Travis Benjamin wants, expects to return kickoffs in addition to punts

BEREA – The broken fibula of running back Dion Lewis created a hole at kickoff returner. Travis Benjamin is ready to fill it. Benjamin, already slotted to return punts and be the fourth receiver, said Thursday he wants and expects to return kickoffs when the season opens Sept. 8 against Miami. “Yes, I’m very excited,” he said. Benjamin is only 5-foot-10, 175 pounds but said he’s not worried about wearing himself thin or the extra punishment possible on kickoff returns.

“Not at all,” he said. “It’s extra plays for me.” Benjamin returned three kickoffs as a rookie in 2012, averaging 25.3. He averaged 49.7 yards with a touchdown on three punt returns. He already has a punt return for a touchdown and another called back by penalty in two preseason games. The other candidates to return kickoffs are safety Johnson Bademosi and cornerback Buster Skrine.

“I feel comfortable that we have Travis,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “I would really like to see the other guys, including Bademosi. Buster Skrine has done it before and has been effective, as well.” Chudzinski admits Benjamin would be susceptible to bigger hits on kickoffs, but isn’t afraid to use him there. “We are going to try to put the best guys out on the field in those situations to go win the game,” he said.

“If Travis happens to be the best guy in that situation, we will do it at that time.” “You can get hit harder on offense,” Benjamin said. Bademosi said he has a little experience returning kicks and is trying to emulate the vision, catching and explosion through gaps of Joshua Cribbs, who left in free agency. “I’m getting better every day,” Bademosi said.

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