They were like brothers almost immediately, whether they were combining for big plays on the field or delivering Christmas presents to students of local schools off the field.
Newton didn’t return to practice on Wednesday when Benjamin suffered a season-ending ACL injury until he helped the 6-foot-5, 240-pound receiver onto the cart. He predicts there will be “hell to pay" when Benjamin returns in 2016.
Meanwhile, look for Newton to build a similar relationship with 2015 second-round pick Devin Funchess.
“He has to learn at an accelerated rate, but I’m taking him up under my wing," Newton said after Friday’s preseason victory over Miami. “I have full confidence in Devin that he gets it, sooner rather than later."
Funchess sat out of the 31-30 victory against the Dolphins with a tight hamstring, but he is expected to be ready for Friday night’s game against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The plan was to have him on the field for Monday's practice as the Panthers begin the Charlotte practice phase of their preseason. Funchess could very well turn out to the be the team's WR1 this year, much like Benjamin ended up last year. He's bumped up our rankings to 45th.