Aug/13/12 08:03 AM Filed in: Travis Benjamin
Rookie Travis Benjamin has given the Browns’ receiving corps the elite speed it lacked in recent years, and the payoff was evident Friday night in his NFL debut.
During the Browns’ first possession of their preseason opener against the host Detroit Lions, Benjamin burned rookie cornerback Dwight Bentley on a fade route along the visiting team’s sideline. He then caught a perfect pass from rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, tapping both of his feet on the turf and securing a 34-yard reception before drifting out of bounds.
“My speed got me open on that catch,” Benjamin, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, said after the game. … “It was a great throw by Weeden. I knew if I could catch the ball and keep my feet inbounds, it would be a great play.”
The completion gave the Browns a first down at the Lions’ 23-yard line, but they squandered the opportunity when Weeden lost a fumble three plays later. Bentley later intercepted a pass from Weeden, and the Browns’ starting offense went scoreless before the backups took center stage toward the end of the opening quarter and ultimately pulled off a 19-17 win.
Nevertheless, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Benjamin used the momentum he gained from his stellar performances in training camp and proved he has the ability to become a weapon on game days. In addition to catching two passes for 46 yards, he returned two kickoffs for 55 yards (27.5 average).
“I think Travis looked good in this game like we’ve seen him look in practice, and I think that’s an encouraging thing because he’s been able to bring it to the game,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “He looked fast on the return. He caught the ball well. He caught the ball with his hands. He had to leap, so he did some of the things we’ve seen him do in practice here in the game, and so that’s a credit to him.”
Weeden knows Benjamin’s quickness can be lethal for opposing defenses.
“The one to Travis, I was really hoping to see single high safety like they did,” Weeden said. “When we broke the huddle, I said, ‘Hey, man, get on your horse.’ I said, ‘Run fast.’ And so he did. He can fly. I put it out there, and he made a heck of a catch.”