Remember Garrett? He was the talk of the rookie minicamp after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa, where he led the nation in receiving yards last season.
But until Wednesday the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Garrett hadn’t done much to stand out during training camp, primarily because he was buried behind Carolina’s deepest group of receivers since quarterback Cam Newton was the top pick of the 2011 draft.
Garrett got more opportunities than normal on Wednesday, and made the most of them. He definitely caught the eye of coach Ron Rivera.
But Garrett still isn’t among Carolina’s top eight receivers, and the Panthers likely will keep only five. Odds are they will put Garrett on the practice squad so he can develop as Damiere Byrd did last year.
“He’s a way from being the guy that can go out there and make a lot of things happen for you," Rivera said. “But right now, where he is, kind of reminds of where Devin Funchess was a year ago. He’s still learning, still trying to get an understanding and feel for it."
Not to suggest Garrett is exactly where Funchess was a year ago. The Panthers invested a second-round pick in Funchess. Although he started off slowly, there was no doubt the former Michigan star would play immediately. After a year in the system, he appears ready to become a star in the NFL.
Garrett isn't in Carolina's immediate plans.
Kelvin Benjamin, Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr., Philly Brown and Brenton Bersin appear to be roster locks with two preseason games remaining. Byrd has a good chance to make the roster as a receiver/special-teams player.
You could argue that because general manager Dave Gettleman likes tall receivers, Garrett is at the top of the next tier. And the fact that LaRon Byrd (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) could miss Friday’s preseason game against New England because of a concussion helps Garrett's cause.
Rivera likes what he’s seen lately from Garrett.
“He’s been really good in his route running," he said. “He relied on his great athletic ability, his natural skills as a receiver when he was in college. Now that he’s in the league you’ve got to be more precise and a better route runner.
“He’s done that. ... He’s a young guy that looks like he might have a good future."