NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported Tuesday that rookie receiver Curtis Samuel will be shut down for the season following a left ankle injury suffered in Monday night's victory over the Miami Dolphins, per a souce informed of Samuel's status. The Panthers later announced that Samuel will undergo season-ending ankle surgery.
The news came on the heels of coach Ron Rivera saying it "didn't look good" for Samuel earlier in the day.
The second-round pick got his left ankle rolled up on after dropping a would-be touchdown in the blowout win.
The speedy receiver ends his rookie campaign after nine games, including four starts, compiling 115 yards on 15 catches, adding four rushing attempts for 64 yards -- he also missed Week 4 with an ankle injury.
It's a blow to the Panthers' offense, which planned to get more speed on the field for Cam Newton. The team's faith in the Samuel was part of the reason they were comfortable trading Benjamin to the Bills at the deadline. Not only does the injury knock out an important piece for a Carolina team in playoff contention, but it also saps valuable playing time for a rookie who was still learning the receiver position after spending his time as a running back at Ohio State.
It would not be a surprise to see rookie running back Christian McCaffrey spend more time split out wide, especially if Jonathan Stewart continues to run well. CMC has played just 39 snaps out wide and 68 in the slot thus far, per Next Gen Stats. The injury to Samuel will increase McCaffrey's importance in a surging Panthers offense.