Curtis Samuel’s injury a blessing in disguise?

Over the offseason, the Carolina Panthers have been dealing with injuries. Whether it be shoulder issues, knee issues, or hamstring issues, a decent list of Panthers found themselves on the bikes rather than on the field. Former Buckeyes offensive weapon Curtis Samuel happens to be a part of that group.

With that in mind, many people are already writing off Curtis Samuel as a contributor. After missing so much time, Samuel seems to be an after-thought rather than a big concern. Some even go as far as to say he’ll be lucky to gain any offensive snaps.

However, it appears that may no longer be the case. Today, Curtis Samuel practiced in full, participating in wide receiver and team drills. On the field, he didn’t miss a beat, running each assignment masterfully.

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera had nothing but positive words when describing Curtis Samuel’s performance on Monday. “He looked good,” head coach Ron Rivera commented. “The nice part was that he knew where to line up … knew where to go, knew what his routes were supposed to be.”

Note the part where Rivera says Curtis Samuel knows “where to line up” and “what his routes [are] supposed to be.” For a guy who has missed every practice since the training camp opener, these comments are very encouraging. Not only is he even able to do stuff in practice, Samuel’s playing at a high level.

However, when considering how Curtis Samuel spent his time on the sideline, it may turn out to be a blessing that he wasn’t on the field as much.

“I wanted to be out there, but some good things came out of this injury,” Samuel remarked. “I’ve been in the playbook, so I was able to study rather than being out there like a chicken with his head cut off.”

This quote is very telling. Curtis Samuel reveals his intelligence and and ability to recognize and retain plays. While everyone else ran about during the dog days of training camp, Curtis Samuel spent his time on the sidelines learning. This could turn out to be a benefit rather than a setback.

For example, consider the average student. In grade school, many would typically procrastinate, cramming important information the night before a test. While this method may work out in the short term, it does not help for long-term learning. The student will most likely forget the crammed information in a matter of days after the test.

In contrast, those who study over an extended period of time will most likely retain everything they’ve learned. The student will not only have a better understanding of the lesson, they’ll likely be able to recall such information at a later time. This can especially be useful for when finals come up, when such information is necessary.

In football, that same concept is applicable. During training camp, players only have a short amount of time to cram routes and plays. Afterwards, they immediately have their “test” on the field. Rather than have plenty of time to examine the details, the players instead have to perform such almost immediately.

While certainly none of that is by choice, it does reveal how tough it is to learn all that information at once. Some may even practice what they’ve learned wrong, therefore hindering their ceiling and success.

In Curtis Samuel’s case, he found himself injured. While that may not look great at first, it does have its benefits. Instead of immediately getting his “test” after learning new concept, Samuel can take it slow. He is able to study the playbook long-term and delay his “test” until later. Not only does this help Samuel retain the information better, it helps him learn the technicalities even more.

Curtis Samuel puts it beautifully when describing his situation.

“I had time that most people don’t have because after practice when you’re tired, sometimes it’s hard to focus,” Curtis Samuel recalls. “But with me out a little bit, I was really able to study the playbook and really learn the ins and outs so I can give myself the best chance to play as soon as possible.”

In effect, Curtis Samuel got more beneficial time that went straight to something he needed to do the most: study the playbook. Coming out of college, Curtis Samuel was a hybrid runningback and receiver. Although he showed exceptional talent when playing from the slot, he still needs to learn and add to his route tree.

carolina panthers curtis samuel

Curtis Samuel

Sure, reps are important for body memory. However, none of those reps help when the person has no idea what to do. With his injury, Curtis Samuel had more time to ask questions and learn even more routes. Learning the details and understanding what he’s supposed to do is far more important in the long-run.

While Curtis Samuel’s injury may have been a setback at first, it appears that may no longer be the case. With him understanding the playbook and putting on a show on the field, there’s no doubt Samuel’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise.

Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.

Writer for the CarolinaHuddle. In-depth analysis, breakdowns, and articles all related to the Carolina Panthers.