Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said there’s “a little glimmer” of hope Devin Funchess plays Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks — so it’s fitting the wide receiver was listed as doubtful on the team’s final injury report of the week.
Funchess missed all three of the team’s practices this week with an undisclosed back injury, which Rivera said “popped up” after the Panthers (6-4) lost to the Detroit Lions last Sunday. While it’s not likely Funchess plays against the Seahawks, wide receiver Torrey Smith could make his return following a four-game absence because of a knee injury.
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“He did good,” Rivera said Friday about Smith’s day at practice. “Running around well, made a couple of catches. He had a good day.”
Smith, officially listed as questionable for Sunday, hasn’t played since Carolina’s Week 7 game at Philadelphia. He turned in three limited practices this week after doing side work last week, but Rivera said the eighth-year receiver showed his speed during this week’s practices, which is a good sign for him.
Funchess’ absence paves the way for increased workloads for DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, each of whom caught a touchdown pass last week. But Rivera said the onus doesn’t fall completely on the team’s youngest receivers. All five of the team’s presumed active receivers will collectively be expected to fill the void left by Funchess.
“We’ve been through it before, when we put the small group out there and let them run around and see what happens. I like the guys, I do,” Rivera said. “I think the group of guys we have right now have done a really nice job for us. We’re going to see but I feel pretty confident about Torrey ... I like what we’ve gotten from Jarius (Wright), and DJ, and Curtis and Damiere (Byrd). I think those four guys — with their speed, their quickness, their elusiveness — could be a threat. We’ll see how the rest of it goes.”
Offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse returned to practice in full after missing Thursday with an illness, and quarterback Cam Newton practiced in full after taking limited reps Thursday.