Samuel's (ankle) projected return date remains cloudy, the Charlotte Observer reports.
The 2017 second-rounder is bouncing back from an ankle injury he suffered last November that involved ligament damage and required season-ending surgery. At this stage, Samuel is able to do some straight-ahead running, but is limited in his cutting and breaking. With Samuel still on the mend, the Panthers added wideouts Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright in free agency to add depth behind top returning wideout Devin Funchess. Once fully recovered from his ankle injury, Samuel profiles as a versatile playmaker who is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Samuel, who was placed on injured reserve Nov. 24 with ligament damage and a broken bone in his left ankle, underwent surgery shortly after being shut down for the season, Max Henson of the Panthers' official site reports.
The Panthers have issued no timetable for Samuel's return to full activity but it appears the 2017 second-round pick is at least making progress in his recovery from surgery, as he has since had his cast removed and is now sporting a protective boot on the ankle while using crutches to get around. Per Henson, the 21-year-old has been going through at least three hours of rehab for the ankle five times a week at the Panthers' facility while varying his workouts. It sounds unlikely that Samuel will take part in all drills when the Panthers reconvene in the spring for Organized Team Activities but the expectation is that the wideout will be fully recovered by the time training camp opens in the summer. If he's able to steer clear of the injury bug that plagued him as a rookie, Samuel could have an elevated role in the Panthers' passing attack in 2018 with few established targets populating the roster beyond lead receiver Devin Funchess, tight end Greg Olsen and running back Christian McCaffrey.
Samuel's season came to a close in the Panthers' last game Week 10, when he tore ligaments in his left ankle. That said, he wasn't immediately placed on IR because the obvious corresponding move, activating Greg Olsen (foot) from the list, couldn't be confirmed until he completed this week of practice. With Olsen's health approved, the team swapped the skill-position players Friday. Consequently, Samuel ends his rookie campaign with 15 receptions (on 26 targets) for 115 yards, four rushes for 64 yards and 22.1 yards per on his 10 kickoff returns.
Samuel (ankle) had surgery and will be placed on injured reserve, David Newton of ESPN.com reports.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the surgery went well, but he also admitted that Samuel is facing a lengthy rehabilitation process. The second-round pick was hampered by some minor injuries even before he tore ankle ligaments, mostly working in a part-time role and ultimately finishing his rookie season with only 15 catches for 115 yards on 26 targets and four carries for 64 yards in nine games. While this obviously isn't the start he expected, Samuel doesn't turn 22 until August and should at least have a shot to be ready for the start of training camp next year.
Samuel will miss the rest of the season after tearing ligaments in his left ankle Monday against the Dolphins, David Newton reports.
An MRI on Tuesday confirmed as much, leaving Samuel with 15 catches (on 26 targets) for 115 yards and four rushes for 64 yards in nine games as a rookie. The Panthers shipped out Kelvin Benjamin before last month's trade deadline, so the receiving corps is pretty bare behind No. 1 wideout Devin Funchess. Among them, Russell Shepard is the best bet for regular targets, but Kaelin Clay and Brenton Bersin can expect an uptick in offensive usage.