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I’m an official “Bonna-fan” of the Carolina Panthers Reggie Bonnafon

In one glorious half of meaningless football, a new hero emerged.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Every year there is at least one random, unknown preseason player who comes out of nowhere to capture my heart. This year it was Reggie Bonnafon. Even as an educated Panthers fan I had never heard of him until the third quarter of the final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In just two glorious (though meaningless) quarters of preseason football he did the following:

  • Rushed for a touchdown
  • Caught all six of his targets for 56 receiving yards
  • Converted four first downs in the fourth quarter
  • Came up with a memorable 75-yard chase-down tackle at the 1-yard line
  • Was named the Keep Pounding Player of the Game by the Panthers broadcasters.

Let’s start with the chase-down tackle. I absolutely loved it. These are exactly the types of plays unheralded UDFAs like Bonnafon need to make. The Panthers were getting killed and playing like trash (you’re welcome for the expert analysis), but Bonnafon never gave up on the play. Plus, he looked faster than Nanu outrunning a cheetah in Disney’s The World’s Greatest Athlete, which is a great way to get noticed.

But the chase-down tackle was only the beginning. While Bonnafon was bottled up in the running game (five attempts for four yards), he spent most of the third and fourth quarters catching passes out of the backfield (six receptions for 56 yards) and moving the chains. He did a good job finding open spaces on his routes, giving the quarterback an open window, then picking up yards after the catch.

His play impressed me enough to look up his bio and he sounds like Joe Webb 2.0. Bonnafon played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and punt returner during his four years at Louisville. Check out his crazy college stats:

  • Passing: 75 of 145 (51.7%) for 1,056 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions
  • Rushing: 215 attempts for 805 yards (3.7 YPC) and 12 touchdowns
  • Receiving: 44 receptions for 446 yards and six touchdowns
  • Returner: 12 punt returns for 81 yards

At the time of this writing Bonnafon’s fate with the Panthers hasn’t been determined. He definitely won’t make the 53-man roster but perhaps he showed just enough against the Steelers to get consideration for the practice squad. And if the Panthers aren’t interested perhaps his effort turned a few heads across the league and he gets a chance somewhere else.

While the third and fourth quarters of the last preseason game are the most meaningless thirty minutes of NFL football, it was great to watch a random, unheralded guy like Reggie Bonnafon steal the spotlight. His opportunities were limited but he maximized them which is the best a UDFA can do, so kudos to him for that.

Thanks for a great half of football, Reggie. All the best from here.


What is Reggie Bonnafon’s upside potential

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Future Hall of Famer
    (40 votes)
  • 48%
    Can make a 53-man roster someday
    (131 votes)
  • 30%
    NFL practice squad
    (84 votes)
  • 5%
    Arena League
    (16 votes)
271 votes total Vote Now