One of the key players in the Carolina Panthers’ revamped secondary will start training camp on the sidelines.
Cornerback Bené Benwikere was placed on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday as he continues to recover from the broken ankle he sustained against Atlanta in December.
Benwikere, who has started 10 games in two seasons, is expected to start at one of the corner spots vacated by Josh Norman and Charles Tillman.
But Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team hopes to avoid any setbacks in Benwikere’s recovery by not rushing him back on the field.
“It gives him an opportunity to continue his rehab,” Rivera said. “I think the thing that everybody needs to understand is what he did was very traumatic to that ankle. And it takes a matter of time. ... We don’t want to just throw him out there.”
Recently acquired corner Leonard Johnson will start on the non-football injury list following offseason surgery on his right Achilles. Johnson started three games for New England late last season but was released in February.
The Panthers signed him two weeks ago knowing he would have more rehab to do.
The injuries will mean extensive work for rookie corners James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez, drafted with successive picks a week after the Panthers pulled Norman’s franchise tag.
“The young kids are going to get the reps,” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “Even if Bene was on the active (roster), they’re going to get their reps. It’s going to be good for them. …You can’t get better watching. You’ve got to be between the white lines. We’re not blinking.”