Travis Benjamin says he's fastest player in the league, hopes to be a Brown forever

BEREA, Ohio -- The photo told the story.

Travis Benjamin, right before halftime, is hurdling over Tennessee punter Brett Kern on his way to the end zone, just one of the 11 Titans special teamers he left in his wake. Benjamin was rewarded for his effort on Wednesday when he was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week.

"It's a blessing," Benjamin said on Wednesday after practice. "I think it's my third one since I've been here. So just a compliment to me and appreciate those 10 guys on the punt return blocking for me and leading my way home."

Benjamin returned that punt 78 yards for a touchdown in Sunday's win over the Titans and totaled 154 return yards, the third-most in a single game for a Brown. He is now tied for second for the most punt-return touchdowns in franchise history. It's a sharp turnaround for a player who briefly lost the job a season ago on a team that had to resort to designated punt catcher Jim Leonhard.

"I didn't get to practice well (last season)," Benjamin said, "because being hurt, being out, missing those reps, missing those practices that I was out. But this year I'm ready to go."

Benjamin missed most of 2013 with a torn ACL, suffered during a kick return in a loss to Kansas City. Benjamin returned last season and appeared in all 16 games. He managed 8.5 yards per return with a long of just 37.

"I feel way different (this year)," Benjamin said. "I feel faster. I feel like it's no relapse into what I have to do. I feel so much faster this year.

"I did mostly running (in the off-season) because last year I was rehabbing, so this year I got a chance to run more."

Benjamin appears to have taken a step forward as a receiver, too, a year after catching 18 passes. He's one-third of the way to that total and has matched his 2014 touchdown total with three already this season.

"I always felt like I can change the game each and every time on the field," Benjamin said when asked if he knew he had it in him to be a big-play receiver. "I can be that playmaker that can take over a game because my speed and my ability to get open."

Benjamin said that, even though it's been four years since he last ran the 40-yard dash, he believes his time would be "probably 4.2 (seconds), low 4.3."
Is he the fastest player in the league?

"I would say so," Benjamin said. "You've never seen a player just put speed on tape each and every time."

Benjamin's timing for his scorching start couldn't be better. He's in the final year of his 4-year, $2.577 million rookie contract. If he continues playing well, he stands to get a hefty raise to his $660,000 base salary.

"Hopefully we can keep it going for the long run," Benjamin said, "and I'll be a Brown forever."

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