Curtis Samuel's speed could be what doctor ordered for Panthers' offense

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel knows his body, so when he felt a little off just over a week before the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, he sought medical advice.

A few days later, it was reported Samuel had a minor procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. The team listed him out for the first three games with a "medical issue", and the 2017 second-round draft pick out of Ohio State had not addressed it until this week.

"I'm not really going to go back into it," Samuel said after returning to practice on Monday for the first time after missing the Panthers' three games.

"I've been playing football for a long time. I knew something [wasn't] right. That's what really triggered it for me."

Newly signed free safety Eric Reid -- whose history of kneeling during the national anthem with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and collusion grievance against the NFL made big headlines -- spoke on Monday at the team facility. Amid the hoopla, it was lost that Samuel has a chance to make his 2018 debut in Week 5 against the New York Giants at 1 p.m. ET (Fox) on Sunday.

Samuel, 22, wouldn't go into detail about his medical issue other than to say it was frightening at first, but he doesn't fear playing moving forward.

"It didn't scare me at all," he said. "I was just waiting for my time to get back on the field."

It's just a matter of monitoring the situation, which the Panthers have done.

"We'll continue to watch him, see how his conditioning is," coach Ron Rivera said. "Obviously, his skill set and his speed and his ability to get downfield make him a valuable part of [the offense]."

Samuel arguably is Carolina's fastest receiver -- maybe player -- having run the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds at the 2017 NFL combine. His ability to stretch the field out of the slot or as a running back was a big reason the Panthers selected him with the 40th pick a year ago.

After an injury-plagued rookie season that came to an early end with a brutal left ankle injury in a Monday night game against Miami, Samuel showed his value in the preseason by leading the Panthers with 10 catches for 180 yards.

Though quarterback Cam Newton has been efficient on short passes during a 2-1 start, his average completion is 6.8 yards. The deep ball hasn't been a part of his repertoire outside of a 51-yard touchdown catch by first-round pick DJ Moore against Atlanta.

Samuel brings that more into play.

And get this: He says he's faster than ever.

"I was flying," Samuel said of his first practice. "Sheeesh! Wooo! I ain't run that fast in a long time."

Samuel has no doubt his speed will impact games.

"For sure I can continue to do what I was doing before I left," he said. "... I've been in this situation before. I ain't saying I'm used to it, but I know how to adjust to adversity. It's just time for me to go."