5 awards from Panthers training camp

Carolina Panthers training camp is over for this year and practices will now become private affairs in the fields behind Bank of America Stadium as the team gears up for its remaining preseason games.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to camp, but we will widdle it down to just a few.

Here are five awards from training camp at Wofford.

Offensive MVP – WR Devin Funchess

Funchess came into the league making plays. His rookie season he caught 31 passes for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Last year was a disappointment for him statistically, but all signs point to him skyrocketing in 2017. At camp, Funchess made more plays than his counterpart Kelvin Benjamin, and altogether showed more ability against second-year cornerbacks Daryl Worley and James Bradberry.

Working with the first-team offense, there was no receiver Derek Anderson depended on more than Funchess. With Benjamin more of a red zone target and Russell Shepard being new to the offense, Funchess was effectively the team’s true number one receiver.

Honorable mention: Christian McCaffrey

Defensive MVP – DT Kawann Short

 No player was more disruptive on the other side of the ball at training camp than defensive tackle Kawann Short. On one instance on Sunday, Short jumped the snap and tore through center Tyler Larsen and Guard Andrew Norwell to get to Cam Newton mid-handoff to the running back.

If you missed his dominance at camp, just take a look at one of his first plays against the Houston Texans.

Short just signed a five year, $80.5 million contract, making him the eighth highest paid defensive tackle in the league. Short had to hold himself back during practice as the quarterback can’t be touched, but as the preseason ramps up, we should see him ramping up to dominate.

Honorable mention: James Bradberry

Best rookie – RB Christian McCaffrey

It’s hardly a surprise, but Christian McCaffrey was the best rookie of this year’s bunch. The first-round pick was given ovations by the crowd nearly every practice, and for good reason. The rookie spent the majority of the summer making defenders miss and taking names.

His first game against Houston may not have shown much, but at training camp McCaffrey showed a lot of what he’s capable of. If given a decent hole and some open space, the former Stanford running back has shown he can make even the best linebackers in the game miss. McCaffrey’s first training camp was a showcase, making him the easy choice for best rookie.

Honorable mention: Taylor Moton

Best free agent – CB Captain Munnerlyn

This may not be the expected choice, but no one can deny the addition that Captain Munnerlyn has done to this secondary. James Bradberry looks to be a top-15 cornerback and Daryl Worley has shown tremendous improvement. The one weakness last season was the slot cornerback position, which has now been filled with a quality starter in Munnerlyn. Each cornerback has made plays this summer, but with Munnerlyn in the slot, the secondary is truly solidified.

Munnerlyn was hampered by a hamstring injury to start camp, but has since fully recovered. He has blanketed receivers in the slot and rarely given up big catches in practice. The signing of Munnerlyn looks like the best of 2017 so far.

Honorable mention: Russell Shepard

Most improved – LB David Mayo

Linebackers drafted in the fifth round don’t often have the highest expectations. But like A.J. Klein, the primary backup middle linebacker before him and also a former fifth round pick, Mayo will most-likely be a starter for another team some day. Throughout training camp, Mayo has shown great improvement coming into his third year with the Panthers.

Mayo has become a vocal leader for the second team defense. You can hear him barking at teammates and commanding players around before every play, just like Luke Kuechly with the first team.

Honorable mention: Chris Manhertz

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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