We are almost a week into NFL training camp and there have been mostly positives coming out of Spartanburg, SC regarding the Carolina Panthers. Even though he’s on a pitch count, Cam Newton is throwing like we are used to, Christian McCaffrey is destroying anyone willing to challenge him in 1 on 1 drills, Luke Kuechly is doing Luke Kuechly things, etc. The only noticeable issue right now are the nagging injuries of a handful of players. Fortunately, none of the injuries that are currently known are deemed to be overly serious, but the lack of reps for some of the young guys on that list does bring some cause for concern.
I’m not entirely sure when exactly the hamstring became an issue. There was no indication from anyone in the media that he was hampered when he checked into training camp last Tuesday, but to my recollection, Samuel hasn’t been involved in many of the team drills so far, if any at all. The only thing I truly remember reading his name for on Twitter was when he split punt return reps with a couple other guys.
After Sunday’s practice session, Coach Rivera did say that he was optimistic that Curtis would be more of a full go in the practices leading up to fan fest, but it’s really hard to truly gauge the timetable of return for an aggravated hamstring.
Do I think that this is some sort of dire, season threatening injury for Curtis Samuel. No, I don’t believe it’s that serious. We are still over a month away from playing games that actually matter so there is certainly time to heal and not rushing a player back from this type of injury is definitely the smart move, but for a rookie receiver, being able to devote the time on the field during camp is definitely important in order to be effective during the season.
Samuel was a full participant during the mini camps and OTAs so he, at least, has familiarity with the offensive scheme and playbook, but Cam Newton’s shoulder surgery prevented him from participating in any throwing drills until the start of training camp last week. So when it comes to the timing of Cam, the QB, and Samuel, a rookie receiver, we are still at square one. That is the concern.
The injury to this point is secondary. I know Samuel is going to get healthy and I know he is going to play this season, but my hope is that he will be able to see some action back on the practice field sooner rather than later. Given the evolution that the offense is scheduled to undergo and given the fact that Curtis Samuel was picked as high as he was to be one of the focal points of the new offense, make it really important that he and Cam build up that timing in order to position themselves to win football games starting in September.
I anticipate that Samuel will make it back on the field prior to the team’s first preseason game on August 9th, but his status is something to keep an eye on over the next few days. If he and Cam can help get each other up to speed in the new system, they could be quite a dynamic pairing.