The 13-0 Panthers received some rare bad news amid their best regular season in franchise history. Nickel cornerback Bene Benwikere fractured his leg, Ron Rivera told media, including NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).
A second-year player, Benwikere’s started four straight games for the injured Charles Tillman, who the team hopes will return from a knee injury before the end of the regular season.
Benwikere’s been a key fixture in the Panthers’ secondary since arriving as a fifth-round pick, starting six games for Carolina last season. The 5-foot-11 San Jose State alum hasn’t enjoyed a particularly impressive second season, according to Pro Football Focus. The analytics site rates Benwikere as its No. 76 corner.
Finnegan and Williams, a fifth-year journeyman who has mostly played special teams, represent the Panthers’ only additional corners. With the team in dire need of depth at an already-depleted spot, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer points out (on Twitter) the Panthers worked out Robert McClain and Bradley Fletcher before they signed Finnegan on Nov. 30.