The Carolina Panthers traded their top receiver to Buffalo two weeks ago and might have lost their youngest receiver to a season-ending ankle injury Monday night against Miami.
Rookie wideout Curtis Samuel left the 45-21 victory in the third quarter after a Dolphins defensive back rolled on his foot after Samuel dropped a certain touchdown pass.
Samuel was on crutches with his left leg heavily bandaged after the game. The initial thought was Samuel had sustained a high ankle sprain, although a team source said the concern is it could be worse.
“It’s bad. It’s real bad,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said of the prospects of losing Samuel. “A person that was on the cusp, it felt like.”
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Part of the stated reason for trading No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills was to give some of the Panthers’ younger, faster receivers more opportunities.
Samuel, the second-round pick from Ohio State, was at the top of that list.
Samuel, 21, caught three passes last week against Atlanta, and had five receptions for 45 yards against the Dolphins before getting hurt.
Newton said Samuel had become a key contributor the past couple of weeks.
“For him to step up and make crucial catches for us and to get the momentum going, it’s big,” Newton said. “I’m staying optimistic about this whole thing, that everything will work out and we’ll still see him sometime this year.”
The Panthers have four other receivers on the active roster – Devin Funchess, Russell Shepard, Kaelin Clay and Brenton Bersin.
They could have Samuel’s replacement on the roster.
Damiere Byrd, a speedy, second-year wideout from South Carolina, broke his forearm vs. New England in Week 4. But he’s eligible to come off injured reserve for the Saints’ game on Dec. 3.