Travis Benjamin

Travis Benjamin: Team-high 113 yards in loss

Benjamin had seven catches on 11 targets for a team-high 113 yards Sunday against the Steelers.

Benjamin has shown great chemistry with quarterback Johnny Manziel, who started Sunday in place of the injured Josh McCown (ribs), as he had 115 yards and two touchdowns back in Week 2 when Manziel was under center. Benjamin has reached double-digit targets five times this season, though Sunday's activity was his first time over 10 since Week 6. Browns head coach Mike Pettine said earlier this week that McCown would start as long as he is healthy, which means he could be under center in Week 12 against the Ravens, following the Browns' Week 11 bye.

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Travis Benjamin goes 3-26 in loss to Cardinals

Travis Benjamin caught 3-of-5 targets for 26 yards in the Browns' Week 8 loss to the Cardinals.

Benjamin has now been shut down in back-to-back tough matchups against the Rams and Cardinals. He ran a lot of routes at Patrick Peterson, which allowed Brian Hartline to score a pair of touchdowns. Benjamin should get back on track Thursday night against the Bengals.

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ESPN says Travis Benjamin has the best hands in the NFL

Move over Julio Jones. Take a seat Antonio Brown. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin has some of the best hands in the NFL. This, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN in a video segment on the website.

After calling out New England’s Brandon LaFell for doing his best to make people forget about Braylon Edwards, he notes that Benjamin has no drops, 575 yards and four touchdowns after being targeted 56 times through seven weeks.

Thought of to be a field-stretching deep threat, Benjamin has morphed his game into that of a possession-based slot receiver, being among the top 25 in receptions and top four in yards-per-catch (minimum of 30 receptions). The timing couldn’t be better for Benjamin’s breakout performance this season. The diminutive receiver is easily outperforming the $660,000 salary he’s making in the final year of his rookie contract. Assuming his productivity continues, he will surely draw major interest in his services should the Browns not find a way to get a deal done.

Bringing back Benjamin should be one of the more uncontroversial priorities for the Browns. Famous last words, we know.

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Travis Benjamin catches four in loss to Rams

Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin caught four passes on eight targets for 47 yards and a fumble in the Sunday defeat in St. Louis.

Though he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, Benjamin has been emerging as one of the team's top targets in the offense with 59 total target. Despite the "off game", Benjamin is still Cleveland's leading receiver with 575 receiving yards and four touchdowns through the first seven games. He is still of valid Fantasy value in most formats.

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Travis Benjamin, in contract year, wants to remain with Browns

BEREA, Ohio -- In the final year of his rookie contract, Travis Benjamin is hoping to re-sign with the Browns, either during the season or afterwards.

"I'm not looking for (free agency),'' he said. "Me and the Browns have a great relationship. I love them, they love me and I love the community so if we get a deal done that'll be great for me."

He said his ultimate goal is to sign a long-term deal with the Browns.

"I love it here, my wife loves it here and we're just happy to be here,'' he said.

He said there's still time to get an extension done this season, and seemed optimistic the Browns are interesting in doing so.

 "It's not too late now, its only week seven so we're kind of in the middle of things,'' he said. "Hopefully in a couple week something gets brought up."

Benjamin stands to get paid thanks to the great season he's having. He's tied for seventh in the NFL with five touchdowns (four receiving and one punt return) and is leading the league with four receptions of 40-plus yards.

Since entering the NFL in 2012, he's first in the NFL with an average of 13.7 yards per punt return and third with an average of 17.3 yards per catch.
But for now, Benjamin is not all about the Benjamins.

"I'm really not paying attention to (the contract issue) right now,'' he said. "My mind and focus is just keep going to every game and just put on my best performance. At the end of the day or end of the year, the dice may roll where they roll."

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Travis Benjamin goes 9-117 on 13 targets

Travis Benjamin caught 9-of-13 passes for 117 yards in the Browns' Week 6 loss to the Broncos.

Benjamin continues to get the job done as the Browns' No. 1 receiver. He continues to dominate targets outside the numbers, while Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson do the damage in the middle and short areas of the passing game. Benjamin's big gain was a 47-yard pickup down the left sideline when he out-leaped FS Darian Stewart to haul in the jump ball. Benjamin will remain a viable WR3 next week when the Browns travel to take on the Rams. He's getting a ton of volume.

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Travis Benjamin grabs six passes in Baltimore

Browns emerging wide receiver Travis Benjamin snagged six passes for 83 yards off 12 targets in an overtime win over the Ravens on Sunday.

Benjamin leads the team in targets, yards and touchdowns through five weeks - racking up 32 targets over the past three weeks. Though he is being incorporated more and more in Cleveland's offense with McCown under center, it is worth mentioning that three of his four touchdown receptions came from the arm of Johnny Manziel and the speedy Benjamin has not been used as much of a deep threat with McCown.

His next shot at adding to his impressive numbers is Week 6 against Denver.

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Travis Benjamin continues to be integral part of Browns' passing

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin was active in the passing game again this week, finishing second on the team with six receptions for 79 yards.

Fantasy Impact: This was also the second week in a row where he amassed 10 targets. Despite being labeled as a deep threat only, Benjamin has proven to be a viable WR3 with upside through four weeks. He is worth adding if you are in need of WR help.

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TD Streak Extended - 8 TDs Scored

EIGHT #‎proCane TDs were scored in Week 3 of the NFL!

#‎Colts RB Frank Gore (2), WR Phillip Dorsett (1), #‎Panthers TE Greg Olsen (2), #‎Jags WR Allen Hurns (1), #‎Browns WR Travis Benjamin (1), #‎Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham (1).

Frank Gore's first TD extended the streak to 9 straight weeks a #proCane has scored a TD in the #‎NFL.

Phillip Dorsett scored his first ever NFL TD, and Frank Gore scored his first TD as a Colt.

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Travis Benjamin says he let team down

Travis Benjamin, the hero one week earlier when he was on the receiving end of two long touchdown passes from Johnny Manziel, took blame when the Browns couldn’t follow with a victory over the Raiders on Sept. 27.

The Browns rallied from down 27-10 just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 27-20 with 6 minutes, 28 seconds to play on a four-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Benjamin. It was Benjamin’s fourth touchdown catch of the season — already a career best with 13 games left.

The Browns’ defense forced the Raiders to punt without making a first down. FirstEnergy Stadium was rocking. Benjamin was standing near the Browns’ 40 and the fans were looking for another dynamic punt return from the speedster who returned one 78 yards for a touchdown last week.

The punt from the Raiders’ Marquette King hung in the air. Benjamin waved his arm to signal a fair catch. And then he muffed it. The ball hit him in the hands and bounced away. The Raiders recovered, and even though the Browns got another chance on a drive starting at their 2 with 2:26 left, Benjamin believes his muff was the critical play in the game.

“I feel like I let my team down, and that is one thing I don’t want to do,” Benjamin said. “We have to take advantage of every opportunity. Every time we get the ball, we have to punch it in. The good enough thing was that the defense got us the ball back, and we had another opportunity to score.”

Benjamin said he might have been bumped while trying to catch the ball. The only player near him was Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert. It is difficult to see on replay whether Gilbert touched Benjamin.

The reprieve ended with McCown being intercepted by Charles Woodson on the Oakland 12 with 38 seconds to play.

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Travis Benjamin, the hero one week earlier when he was on the receiving end of two long touchdown passes from Johnny Manziel, took blame when the Browns couldn’t follow with a victory over the Raiders on Sept. 27. The Browns rallied from down 27-10 just 30 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 27-20 with 6 minutes, 28 seconds to play on a four-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Benjamin. It was Benjamin’s fourth touchdown catch of the season — already a career best with 13 games left. Michael Allen Blair Browns-Raiders photo gallery The Browns’ defense forced the Raiders to punt without making a first down. FirstEnergy Stadium was rocking. Benjamin was standing near the Browns’ 40 and the fans were looking for another dynamic punt return from the speedster who returned one 78 yards for a touchdown last week. The punt from the Raiders’ Marquette King hung in the air. Benjamin waved his arm to signal a fair catch. And then he muffed it. The ball hit him in the hands and bounced away. The Raiders recovered, and even though the Browns got another chance on a drive starting at their 2 with 2:26 left, Benjamin believes his muff was the critical play in the game. “I feel like I let my team down, and that is one thing I don’t want to do,” Benjamin said. “We have to take advantage of every opportunity. Every time we get the ball, we have to punch it in. The good enough thing was that the defense got us the ball back, and we had another opportunity to score.” Benjamin said he might have been bumped while trying to catch the ball. The only player near him was Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert. It is difficult to see on replay whether Gilbert touched Benjamin. The reprieve ended with McCown being intercepted by Charles Woodson on the Oakland 12 with 38 seconds to play.

Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin caught just four of his 10 targets for 45 yards and lost a fumble, but scored his fifth touchdown of the season in Sunday's loss to Oakland.

Benjamin proved that he could deliver regardless of who was playing quarterback, as he caught a touchdown pass from Josh McCown after picking up three receiving scores courtesy of Johnny Manziel in the season's first two weeks.

While this performance wasn't quite as impressive as his three-touchdown showing against the Titans last week, Benjamin continues to make owners very happy.

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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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Travis Benjamin finds end zone three times in win

Browns emerging wideout Travis Benjamin made it four touchdowns on the young year Sunday with an amazing performance Sunday against the Titans. He hauled in three passes for 115 yards and two scores. He even took a punt return to the house.

Benjamin basically beat Tennessee single-handedly, accumulating 269 total yards between his catches and six punt returns. The 25-year-old receiver turned some heads in Week 1 when he hauled in a Johnny Manziel bomb for a touchdown, but he should be universally owned after his unreal performance in Week 2.
Benjamin and Manziel have clearly built up a rapport on the deep ball, so it will only take one big connection per game for Benjamin to deliver a productive Fantasy week.

He will try to further build up his point total next Sunday against Oakland.

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Johnny Manziel, Travis Benjamin connect for 60-yard TD pass vs. Titans

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Travis Benjamin hauls in 54-yard TD reception

Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin scored his team's only touchdown during a 31-10 loss Week 1 against the Jets.

Benjamin hauled in his sixth career touchdown to open the scoring early in the second quarter. Backup quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was in the game due to an injury to Josh McCown, connected with Benjamin on a 54-yard touchdown to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead.

Benjamin, who was targeted three times, finished with a team-high 89 receiving yards on three catches.

The Browns host the Titans in Week 2.

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Travis Benjamin’s offseason a big reason why he’s thrived in preseason

If he gets a few moments before Thursday’s kickoff, Travis Benjaminicon-article-link might drop by to the other side of field to pay Chicago punter Pat O’Donnell a visit.

O’Donnell is among those Benjamin can thank for the way he blazed through August as a standout at wide receiver and on punt returns.

Still recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered to end 2013, Benjamin wasn’t able to field punts during his downtime before the 2014 season. Fully healed and ready to prove himself on a roster that added plenty of new options at wide receiver and punt returner, Benjamin worked with O’Donnell, a fellow University of Miami grad, throughout the months leading into training camp.

As Saturday’s 53-yard punt return for a touchdown showed, whatever Benjamin did to prepare for 2015 was exactly what the Browns wanted.

“That’s much like the Travis of old,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “We talked about the knee and how it is going to take that extra time to get back but I think we are seeing the results with it being two years out.”

The results have gone beyond punt returner, a position he fended off the likes of Taylor Gabrielicon-article-link and Shane Wynn to win the job. Benjamin is also the Browns leading receiver in the preseason with seven catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, a direct reflection of what he’s shown not only on the practice field since Day 1 of training camp but also the fields in Coral Gables, Florida.

“My plan was to come back to camp full ready to go and put my best foot forward on the field and come out and have the best possible outcome I could,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin didn’t miss a game last season, but both he and Pettine are quick to admit he wasn’t the same. The fourth-year wide receiver said he was so focused on staying healthy that it led to indecisiveness, especially on punt returns. Benjamin lost his job for a stretch and finished the season with an average of 8.5 yards per return, down from the 11.7 he had in 2013 before the injury.

A peculiar play served as the one when Benjamin knew he was back to 100 percent.

Benjamin was unable to field and return a punt in Cleveland’s preseason opener, so he was hungry to test out the knee -- no matter what. Standing inside the 20-yard line during the first quarter, Benjamin drifted back, and back, and back before he fielded the punt at the 2-yard line -- a no-no in most situations. He made a move, darted to the sidelines and gained 17 yards.

“I actually told (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor) I got to get one,” Benjamin said. “I wouldn't go into the third preseason game knowing I hadn't gotten a return yet. I just wanted to put something on tape. I came to the sidelines and I explained it to Tabes and we were on the same page.”

Benjamin’s rapport with quarterback Josh McCownicon-article-link has been strong since the start of training camp, as the two have connected on a number of passes at practice to go along with the in-game production. He came to training camp better prepared, too, as he added five pounds of muscle, absorbed himself in offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s playbook and focused on attacking the ball rather than letting it come to him.

On top of his 55 receiving yards, Benjamin helped the Browns move 35 more in the preseason opener when he induced a pass interference call on a deep ball from McCown. It’s one of the many plays that have contributed to Benjamin’s growing confidence.

“From receiver, from a special teams standpoint, whenever they want No. 11 on the field, I'll put my best foot forward,” Benjamin said. “As long as I keep that edge of getting open and running my routes and getting the right depth and putting speed on film, it will be a great season for me.”

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Travis Benjamin was put on Earth to tear the tops off defenses

I will never forget the first time I noticed Cleveland Browns receiver Travis Benjamin in an NFL game. The Browns were playing the Baltimore Ravens on a rainy night in 2012, Benjamin's rookie season. This was when the Ravens still had future Hall of Famer Ed Reed patrolling the back end of their defense, and few quarterbacks were willing to push the ball down the field.

Benjamin was soooo friggin fast that you could almost see the surprise on the faces of the Ravens secondary as he ran right by them play after play after play. It got to the point where dudes were lining up 20 yards off him before the snap. But it didn't matter because even with a head start, Benjamin was still dusting their asses. And that includes him running by Reed a few times.

Unfortunately, as has been the case for most of his career, Benjamin's quarterback couldn't get the ball to him with any accuracy, so while he was open damn near all night, he ended up catching just two passes, neither of them for a touchdown or even a big gain.

Whether it was Brandon Weeden in 2012 or Brian Hoyer over the next two years, Benjamin has mostly been quiet in the first three years of his career because his quarterbacks were hot garbage.

I'll admit that Benjamin is not the most, um, courageous receiver you will ever see. He's not about that "going across the middle and extending his arms to catch the ball" life. At the same time, however, who the fuck would want to send a dude with his kind of wheels across the middle a lot anyway? Benjamin is a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. He was put on this earth to chew bubble gum and take the top off of defenses, and I hear he's fresh out of Juicy Fruit.

Now, the Browns have a quarterback who can actually get him the damn ball and shit is about to get real. I know this because their new starter, Josh McCown, was the quarterback for my Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. If there was one thing McCown did well in 2014 -- and there weren't many things he did well -- it was pushing the ball down the field to the wide receivers. That means for the first time in his career, Benjamin is going to have a guy who can consistently get him the ball when he gets a step or three on his defender.

McCown is also an athletic guy, so I'm betting we see a few instances where the pocket breaks down, McCown avoids the rush and slings it downfield to a waiting Benjamin who already left his guy in the dust. Oh, it's gonna happen. Write it down, take a picture, y'all know the rest.

Finally, Browns fans will get to see what kind of downfield threat Benjamin really is. I don't think he will start over Andrew Hawkins or Brian Hartline, but he won't need to.

Provided he stays healthy, Benjamin will more than double his career high of 18 catches, easily. With McCown pulling the trigger, or even an apparently rejuvenated Johnny Manziel, Benjamin will finally become the deep threat he was drafted to be and opposing defenses had better beware.

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WATCH: Travis Benjamin returns punt 53 yards for a touchdown

It didn't take Travis Benjamin long to make an impact on Saturday night in Tampa Bay. The receiver and punt returner took the punt off of Tampa Bay's first possession 53 yards for a score.

Benjamin, who some (admittedly me) thought might be on the bubble this season, has been one of the team's best wide receivers in training camp and the preseason. He had a rocky 2014 season returning punts, but is expecting to get back to his old form this season. This isn't a bad start.

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Travis Benjamin poised for 'a big, big year' in 2nd season after ACL

PITTSFORD, N.Y. --- The Browns may have pulled a Rabbit out of a hat this season.

Receiver Travis Benjamin, a.k.a. The Rabbit, has quietly produced one of the best camps of all the wideouts this season, and is a virtual lock to the make the team after some folks had written him off.

In fact, coach Mike Pettine said Monday that the Browns are 'pretty set' with Benjamin as the lead punt returner, which pretty much secures a spot at the crowded receiver position.

And if Pettine asks for quarterback Josh McCown's input, he'll definitely get two thumbs up.

"Trav, he's a pro,'' McCown said after the first of two joint practices against the Bills here. "He just comes out and works hard, doesn't say a whole lot. He's got a great skillset as far as his speed. What Trav is doing really well right now is – you get a guy with speed like that a lot of time, but when the lights come on, either they play timid or they don't play at the high speed – Trav explodes off the ball every time we snap it, and because of that, he's using his speed to his advantage.

"It's causing space for him to get open, and that's why he's able to get balls. He's really doing a good job., Everybody's working really hard, but he's really helped us set a tone for how we're going to come off the football and work, and it's been cool to watch.''

Benjamin, entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, helped endear himself to McCown by waving his hand in the back of the end zone and catching a 2-yard touchdown pass against the Redskins.

McCown scrambled left away from trouble and then motored back to the right, finding Benjamin all alone with nothing but time on hands. Soon, the ball was in them and the two were celebrating.

"He was just hanging out back there waving his hands and he looked lonely, so I threw him the football,'' McCown said after the game.

It's become a familiar refrain and a frequent scribble in the notebook this preseason: McCown to Benjamin deep down the left sidelines. Or on a short slant. Or anywhere the quarterback can find him using his 4.36 speed to get open.

"He adjusts to it now,'' said Benjamin. "He knows that whenever I'm on the field and he sees the advantage, he's going to me no matter what. We have that great connection with each other."

The always affable Benjamin playfully scoffs at the notion that Taylor Gabriel, who boasts a 4.29 in the 40, is faster.

"I'm the fastest player on the team,'' said Benjamin, who was known as the Belle Glade Blur at his Florida high school.

He can say that again now that he's fully recovered from the torn ACL suffered Oct. 27, 2013 in a game against the Chiefs. Last season, he tried to play like his former self, but he just wasn't the rabbit-catching speedster he was back in high school. He was tentative on punt returns, and limited to 18 receptions for 314 yards and a team-high three TDs.

"I am more confident, more ready too fill in a position that needs to be filled,'' he said. "This offseason, I didn't have to go through rehab. I just worked on receiving, catching punts, catching balls and just running full speed all summer, just getting ready to come play."

The new and improved Benjamin has not been lost on Pettine, who's looking for ways to stretch defenses this season in his new role as offense guru.

"He surprised all of us last year,'' said Pettine. "I think he was looked at as 'Hey, he's a returner, he's on the bubble because he's coming off a knee. How effective is he going to be?' He never got going as a returner, but he certainly showed his capability as a wideout. It was a surprise. It was a very pleasant one.

"What's encouraging this year is if you talk to him and ask him, 'Hey, how do you feel compared to a year ago?' it's night and day, and that's usually true with that type of injury that it takes to that next year to really feel back to being your old self."

In the first practice against the Bills on Monday, Benjamin caught a few nice balls in one-on-one-drills and then shed a grabby cornerback to haul in a 40-yard TD pass from McCown in 7-on-7s.

"It's a big, big year for me,'' said Benjamin, the Browns' fourth-round pick in 2012 out of Miami. "Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns, I'm  just willing to go out here and put everything on the line for the Browns as much as I can."

With receivers such as Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor sidelined most of camp with pulled hamstrings, Benjamins has been streaking down the field, providing a sneak preview of what defenses can expect.

"I am ready to turn it up on all phases,'' he said. "Whenever they give me the chance to go into the game and make a play I am gonna make sure I have put my best foot forward to give the Cleveland Browns the best chance they got to win the game."

What's more, he promises you won't see him muffing punts and looking like a deer in the headlights with the ball on its way.

"(I want to be the No. 1 punt returner) very bad,'' he said. "1 out of 10 I would say (I'll be an) 11. I want to be back and help the Browns and get back to the point where I was the best in the game."

He's already got teammate Donte Whitner convinced. When Whitner was asked on Twitter who the most improved player on the team, he answered Benjamin.

As for whether or not he'll be here beyond this year, Benjamin's not operating on fast forward.

"I'm playing for now,'' he said. "I don't look far into the future. I'm just playing for the Browns right now, and hopefully, if things work out, I'll be here for another couple more years, God given, but other than that, I'm playing for the Browns right now."

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Looking for a playmaker on the Browns' offense? Don't count out the Rabbit

Rabbit is back: Benjamin was given the nickname “Rabbit” because as a kid he chased – and caught -- wild rabbits escaping from the burning cane fields of south Florida. He is the fastest player on the team and if you think not, just ask him. “There’s no doubt,” he said.

But it’s not only his speed that has been impressive. In his fourth season, he is doing things that good receivers do – playing bigger than his 5-10 and 175 pounds, fighting off cornerbacks for 50-50 balls, and in the preseason game against Washington, drawing interference on a debatable uncatchable ball, and then following McCown’s improvisation and drifting to an open spot at the back of the end zone for a short touchdown.

The extra year removed from knee surgery has restored Benjamin’s confidence at a time he is naturally reaching a new phase of his receiving career. The Browns are hoping – no, praying – that the confidence extends to his role as lead punt returner.

Benjamin’s troubles at punt return last year were marked by indecision on fair catches, fumbles, and a career-low 8.5 yards per return. It was particularly exasperating because he actually had his best year at receiver, if in a limited role -- 18 receptions for 314 yards and a team-high three receiving touchdowns.
I felt that Benjamin lost confidence as a punt returner because his knee injury occurred while returning a punt in a game in Kansas City in the 2013 season. He disagreed.

“There was no confidence loss at all,” he said. “I guess there was a ball or two I could have looked in and caught, but other than that, I didn’t have the most reps at punt return because we had Jimmy Leonhard and (Jordan) Poyer was taking most of the reps. But the reps I did get in, I could have taken advantage of more.”

Benjamin said his rehab on the knee in the 2014 offseason may have caused him to neglect his punt return role a little.

In any case, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has predicted a big comeback for Benjamin as a punt returner. And on Monday, coach Mike Pettine stated without equivocation that Benjamin is “the lead guy” at punt returner.

The renewed confidence shown by the coaches helps a lot, Benjamin said. “When you have a bond like that, every time Tabe has a punt return he calls my name and I’m gonna put my best foot forward.”

Contract year: So, Benjamin is healthy, more confident, more consistent, is developing into a more well-rounded receiver and … he is in his contract year.

He can be a free agent after this season, and if you don’t think that motivates professional football players then you haven’t been paying attention.

“It’s a big, big year for me,” Benjamin said. “Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns, just willing to go out here and put everything on the line for the Browns as much as I can.

“I’m playing for now. I don’t look far into the future. I’m just playing for the Browns right now, and hopefully, if things work out, I’ll be here for another couple more years, God willing.

“It’s going to be a great year for me.”

The Browns need it to happen.


Travis Benjamin and McCown Clicking

PITTSFORD, N.Y.—It’s still early on in the preseason process, but quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Travis Benjamin seem to have already found a pretty good chemistry.

McCown hooked up with Benjamin in the first preseason game on the first pass from scrimmage and then capped the first drive with a touchdown to Benjamin.  After the game, McCown said he couldn’t believe how wide open Benjamin was. 

Last year, Benjamin had a knack for getting open in the back of the end zone in a couple of games, including scoring two late touchdowns in the Browns come back win over the Titans. He was asked if the defensive backs just lose track of him or how he gets open in those situations.

“I’d say my quickness and my speed, once I get the ball in one direction, it’s full speed ahead. If you’re off balance as a DB, once I get into my break, I’m always going to be open.”

 McCown agreed that Benjamin is using his speed to his advantage.

“Trav, he’s a pro,” McCown said. “He just comes out and works hard, doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s got a great skillset as far as his speed. What Trav is doing really well right now is – you get a guy with speed like that a lot of time, but when the lights come on, either they play timid or they don’t play at the high speed – Trav explodes off the ball every time we snap it, and because of that, he’s using his speed to his advantage.

“It’s causing space for him to get open, and that’s why he’s able to get balls,” he said. “He’s really doing a good job., Everybody’s working really hard, but he’s really helped us set a tone for how we’re going to come off the football and work, and it’s been cool to watch.”

Benjamin said that McCown is now looking for him in certain situations.

“He adjusts to (me getting open) now,” he said. “He knows that whenever I’m on the field and he sees the advantage, he’s going to me no matter what. We have that great connection with each other.”

In the combined practice with the Bills Monday morning, McCown lofted a deep ball down the sideline during 7-on-7 at Benjamin caught the ball for a touchdown, despite being interfered with on the play by the Bills cornerback.  Moments earlier, McCown hit Benjamin on a crossing pattern for a 12-yard gain.

“It’s going great so far for me right now,” Benjamin said “Me and McCown are on the same page and we just want to come out here in Buffalo and compete.”

Later on in team offense against the Bills to end the practice, McCown hit Benjamin on quick slants on two occasions, including one for a first down.

Benjamin thinks the offense held it’s own against the Bills strong defense, even though Mike Pettine said he felt the Bills defense got the best of the Browns offense.
“We did pretty decent,” Benjamin said. “We can always get better. We had a couple mistakes form the lines standpoint, a couple drops from the receivers and misses from the line. We had a couple of mistakes and can always come out and get better every day.”

Benjamin said playing against another team in practice really simulates a game-like atmosphere.

“It’s ramped up like a game situation,” he said. “You’re always trying to win on the tape because there are 31 other teams out there watching you. We just come out here and compete and try to get better every day.”

Many felt that Benjamin might be on the hot seat for a roster spot at wide receiver with the additions of Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Terrelle Pryor and draft choice Vince Mayle, but Pettine said in post practice that Benjamin is the team’s punt returner, when he was asked about Justin Gilbert taking turns as a punt returner.
Benjamin is in the last year of his rookie contract with the Browns and said this is a big year for him.

“This is big for me,” he said. “Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns and just willing to go out and put everything on the line for the Browns and my team.”

Benjamin led the Browns last year in receiving touchdowns with three and had his best year receiving with 18 catches for 314 yards (17.4 avg.) in 16 games after coming off an ACL injury in 2013.

Benjamin said he hopes to stay with the Browns and right now that’s where his focus is.

“I’m playing for now, I don’t look into the future,” he said. “I’m playing for the Browns and if things work out I can be here a couple of more years, but right now I’m just playing for the Browns.”

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Travis Benjamin looks to regain punt-return magic

BEREA, Ohio -- During the first two years of his NFL career, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin made his biggest impact on special teams.

A dangerous special-teamer, who at one point, broke the Browns' single-game record for the most return yards, Benjamin suffered a torn knee ligament in October of 2013, and was unable to regain his form in 2014. However, nearly two years after the season-ending injury, Benjamin is eager to reclaim his spot as a punt returner.

"I am more confident, more ready to fill in a position that needs to be filled," Benjamin said. "Offseason, I didn't have to go through rehab just work receiving, catching punts, catching balls and just running full-speed all summer just getting ready to come play.

"One out of 10 I would say 11. I want to be back and help the Browns and get back to the point where I was the best in the game. I am very confident that I will be. (I) talked with Tab (coordinator Chris Tabor) and Coach Pettine and we're all on the same page that I would be the returner."

Benjamin returned 22 punts for 257 yards in only eight games in 2013, and took back one of those kicks 79 yards for a touchdown. But over 16 games last year, he returned 15 punts for 127 yards, and at times, struggled to hang onto the football.

Although Benjamin's special-teams output decreased, he had a career year on the offensive side of the football. Benjamin turned 18 receptions into 314 yards and a team-best three touchdowns, all of which were personal bests.

"He surprised all of us last year," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "I think he was looked at as 'Hey, he's a returner. He's on the bubble because he's coming off a knee. How effective is he going to be?' He never got going as a returner, but he certainly showed his capability as a wide out.

"It was a surprise. It was a very pleasant one. What's encouraging this year is if you talk to him and ask him, 'Hey, how do you feel compared to a year ago?' It's night and day, and that's usually true with that type of injury, that it takes to that next year to really feel back to being your old self."

And Benjamin enters 2015 hungry to become an impact player for the Browns any time he touches the football.

"I am ready to turn it up on all phases," Benjamin said. "Whenever they give me the chance to go into the game and make a play, I am gonna make sure I have put my best foot forward to give the Cleveland Browns the best chance they got to win the game.

"(I will) just continue to compete, continue to separate myself from the others and showcase my skills, showcase my speed and be willing to be that guy for when it's time, to be able to make that play."

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Travis Benjamin putting up fierce battle at crowded position

Even though he led the Browns in touchdown receptions last season, Travis Benjamin is clawing and scratching through every training camp practice to prove to the Browns he deserves more playing time – and a secure spot on this roster.

So far, so good.

In terms of incumbent skill players, the argument can be made nobody has had a better start to camp than Benjamin.

With five days in the books, Cleveland’s offense has featured a flurry of short passes in the middle of the field, and the 25-year-old receiver has been cleaning up against the first-team defense. At Tuesday’s practice, Benjamin was a recipient of a trick pass-play from Terrelle Pryor he hauled in for 40-yards, all the while with Pierre Desir and Tashaun Gipson draped on his back.

Now 21 months removed from ACL surgery, Benjamin finally feels like himself again, and if that’s the case his speed is nearly unmatched in the AFC.

“I'm just getting my feet (back) underneath me,” Benjamin told Nathan Zegura on Tuesday’s Browns Huddle.

The thing is, Benjamin has always been a smooth player in practice. Speed flourishes in training camp. His in-season production is still the question.

In three NFL seasons, Benjamin’s career-highs are 18 receptions and 314 yards. With new veteran additions generating a majority of the buzz and a plethora of players nipping on his heels – Pryor, Vince Mayle, Darius Jennings, Josh Lenz and Shane Wynn – competition at receiver has reached a boiling point for Benjamin. He senses it.

“Continue to separate myself from the others,” Benjamin responded to reporters when asked about steps he needs to take during camp. “Showcase my skill, showcase my speed and be willing to be that guy for when it’s time, the calls, just be able to make that play.”

Competition is just as thick for Benjamin at return man, where he made a name for himself in 2013 by ranking third in the NFL in punt return yards before his knee injury. But 2014 saw a dizzying array of returners for the Browns, none of whom were more effective than the other. So Taylor Gabrielicon-article-link, Tramon Williamsicon-article-link, and Wynn have been fielding punts and kicks in practice to add some flavor.

The theme is a common one: Benjamin does not want to relent his spot.

“Out of one to 10, I’d say 11,” Benjamin said, responding to how badly he wants to be Cleveland’s return man. “I want to be back and help the Browns and get back to the point where I was where I’m the best in the game.”

There’s no arguing Benjamin has been vigorous in training camp. On Friday, the Browns head to Columbus for the Orange and Brown scrimmage. Coach Mike Pettine said the Browns coaching staff will put more weight into players who excel in the more pressure-filled situations of playing in front of screaming fans at Ohio Stadium.

“I just like it because we’re going somewhere different and it will be a different atmosphere,” Pettine said.  “Guys can make plays out here on the practice field but now you have to – I mean we play games in that type of atmosphere and that’s important to see who’s going to thrive in that environment and who might drop away.”

Because he’s a proven player with a track record for big plays still in his youth, Benjamin clearly has value. But the temperature of the competition in the Browns’ receiving room is only going to get hotter.

The receiver nicknamed “rabbit” isn’t losing any sleep.

“I don’t look that far into the future,” Benjamin said. “You have at least four-to-five weeks until that call. I’m just focused on getting better every day.”

That focus is doing wonders so far.

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Travis Benjamin shines at Browns training camp

BEREA, Ohio -- It's not unreasonable to think that Travis Benjamin came into training camp on the bubble. His days as the heir apparent as a return man took a hit in 2014. There are plenty of other small, quick guys on the roster -- though, to be fair to Benjamin, he towers over some of the other players in the receiver room with his 5-10 frame.

Just play the numbers game, though. Add Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline to Andrew Hawkins, plus Taylor Gabriel coming off of a strong rookie season, Vince Mayle coming in as a draft pick, plus guys like Rodney Smith and others trying to squeeze in, and, on top of that, Terrelle Pryor showing signs that maybe he can make the transition from quarterback to receiver. Someone has to get pushed out. Benjamin finds himself in with the group fighting for a spot.

Sunday, he made a case that there's still room for him.

On its surface, it wasn't a day that's going to blow you away. Camp hasn't had many highlights to speak of regardless, but it was a day where Benjamin was something that can't be overstated in a receiver: reliable.

Here were the key plays from Benjamin:
• Josh McCown finds Benjamin deep.
• McCown quick throw to Benjamin in front of Pierre Desir. • McCown finds Benjamin underneath.
• McCown goes over the top to Benjamin for 15+ yards.

Two things of note: First, Benjamin was catching passes from McCown, meaning he spent much of his time with the first team. Second, he made a couple of deep catches but also made catches going over the middle and as a safety valve. Sometimes a guy just has to do the dirty work, even on a hot Sunday morning in early August.

It's easy to forget that Benjamin is still developing as a wide receiver. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2012 as the guy who could possibly replace Josh Cribbs. He even showed signs that he could. He caught 18 balls that year, too, including a 69-yarder against Washington.

He matched his rookie year catch total last season after catching just five passes in eight games in 2013, scoring three touchdowns (including the go-ahead score against Tennessee and the game-tying score in Game 1 against Pittsburgh) and had some observers wondering early on if maybe he could take the next step as a receiver.

Competition is never bad. So far, it's brought out the best in Benjamin. He wins Sunday.

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Travis Benjamin may be odd man out for Browns

The Chronicle-Telegram's Scott Petrak considers Travis Benjamin the early odd man out in the Browns receiving corps.

Benjamin is a seldom-used deep threat who must show he can return kicks to make the team. Last season, Benjamin disappointed as a return man, averaging just 21 yards on kick returns and 2.4 yards per punt return while grading out as PFF's worst returner. Benjamin is pint-sized at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds.

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Travis Benjamin Roster Spot In Jeopardy?

Travis Benjamin’s roster spot is in jeopardy. If the Browns keep only five wide receivers, Benjamin might not be one of them if the Browns opt to use Taylor Gabriel to return punts. Doing so would be one way to get the feisty, fast, fearless Gabriel more touches.

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Browns expect Travis Benjamin to excel as returner in 2015

In the wee hours of the night after the Browns made their two first-round selections, Ray Farmer, in unprompted fashion, was talking about Travis Benjamin.

A veteran of 11 knee surgeries, the Browns general manager was compelled to come to Benjamin’s defense after he was asked whether he would make a concerted effort to upgrade the team’s corral of return men. Over the next two days, the Browns brought in two players with experience returning punts and kicks -- Duke Johnson and Charles Gaines -- but it’s clear they won’t be the only ones competing for the spots Benjamin has occupied over the past few seasons.
They’ll have to be better than a healthier Benjamin to earn one or both of the valuable roles.

“You’re never the same right away,” Farmer said, referencing the knee surgery that prematurely ended Benjamin’s 2013 season. “Most guys recover better in the second year, and you’ll see a difference. I’m not knocking what Travis did because I do think the guy was productive for us and did a lot of really good things for us. The reality is I think he’ll be even better this year.”

The Browns shuffled through four different punt returners and seven different players returned at least one kick in 2014. Benjamin easily accounted for the most punt returns but averaged just 8.5 yards on the 15 he was able to take. In 2012, he averaged 11.7 yards per return and took one back for a touchdown.

Benjamin returned 12 kicks (a career high) for an average of 20.5 yards last season. As a team, Cleveland ranked 24th in the NFL in punt return average and 25th on kicks.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor expects Benjamin to be at the center of the Browns making major improvements in both areas next season.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Travis Benjamin,” Tabor said. “I think he’s a great football player. I’m excited for him to have the opportunity to play like Travis Benjamin in the return game. I’ve got great confidence that he can get that done. Do we still need to work on things? We do, but the good news is he’s a willing participant and he wants to do that. That’s why I’m so fired up about what he can do.”

Asked if he expects Benjamin to be better in the return game, Tabor delivered a simple, profound response.

“I expect him to be great,” Tabor said.

Tabor said he foresees Benjamin “strengthening the punt game” and “being used as a guy in the kickoff return game” along with the likes of Johnson, Gaines and potentially defensive back Justin Gilbert. He’s coming off his busiest season as a wide receiver, too, as he finished with 18 receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns, all of which either matched or surpassed career highs.

Tabor said the decline in production on returns and incline in production as a wide receiver could go hand in hand.

“A guy begins to play more offensive snaps, gets more touches that way, and maybe the keenness or the sharpness of focusing in on catching the ball and having those opportunities in the return game, they get slighted a little bit,” Tabor said. “I think it’s when things like what happened to us last year in the return game ... I think that opens your eyes a little bit.

“We’ll get it rectified.”

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Travis Benjamin fought through adversity in 2014

Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin saw the highest of highs and some lows in 2014.

Benjamin was at the forefront of Cleveland’s 29-28 Week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans – you know, the victory that became the largest come-from-behind road win (25-point deficit) in NFL history 

“That’s a game I’ll remember until I die,” Joe Thomas said in a recent interview.

Two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Brian Hoyer were secured in the back of the end zone by Benjamin. The following week, representatives from the Hall of Fame made the trip to Berea to collect Benjamin’s jersey for display in Canton.

“It feels like a kid going to Disney World,” Benjamin said.

But the 2014 season wasn’t all roses for Benjamin. Known as a dynamic punt returner in his first two seasons with the Browns, Benjamin saw his production take a dip. In 2013, Benjamin averaged 11.7 yards per return and boasted a 79-yard touchdown before tearing his ACL. In 2014, his average fell to 8.5, and Cleveland was forced to experiment with Jordan Poyer and even 32-year-old safety Jim Leonhard.

“I have to come in and keep pushing,” Benjamin said in an October interview.

On Dec. 7 with the Indianapolis Colts in town, the special teams unit would face their biggest challenge yet. Both specialists, Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee, were ranked first at their positions. Further, former Browns return man Josh Cribbs was making all of the headlines after he said he would jump in the Dawg Pound if he scored a touchdown.

The special teams unit rose up to the challenge, stifling Indianapolis in the field position battle. Benjamin took the encounter personally, as he ran back a first-quarter punt 37 yards to give Cleveland a heap of momentum.

But the play that best embodied Benjamin’s competitive “Play like A Brown” nature was in Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. In the fourth quarter, quarterback Brian Hoyer underthrew Benjamin on a deep route near the right sideline. Carolina cornerback Josh Norman intercepted the pass and sprinted up field.

After sprinting and weaving 40 yards through would-be Browns tacklers, Norman felt someone behind him. It was Benjamin, who poked the ball free and recovered the fumble, giving the Browns another chance.

“That play, to me, shows you what Travis Benjamin is all about,” linebacker Barkevious Mingo said. “He just never gives up anything.”

Said Mike Pettine:  “If you had said to me that happened and guess who did it, Travis probably would have been the first or second name that I would have come up with. That’s the type of play that he would make for sure.”

All in all, Benjamin ended up leading Cleveland in touchdown receptions, battled through adversity as a punt returner and proved to his teammates and Browns fans he will fight on every single down.

“I still have room to grow as a playmaking receiver,” Benjamin said in his exit interview. “And I hope I can prove that.”

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Travis Benjamin gets defensive

Travis Benjamin was years away from becoming a member of the University of Miami program, but he remembers the play.

Ohio State led Miami, 14-7, in the National Championship game in 2003. Miami stopped an Ohio State third quarter drive when Sean Taylor intercepted a pass and ran it out of the end zone. Running back Maurice Clarett kept the drive alive when he chased Taylor down, ripped the ball away and regained possession for the Buckeyes. They kicked a field goal and eventually won the game in overtime.

A title was not on the line Sunday, but Benjamin went to his inner Clarett to perform a similar spectacular play against the Carolina Panthers, keeping the Browns hopes alive in a game they eventually lost, 17-13.,AAAAQBxUNqE~,xKBGzTdiYSSRqIKPsPdkNW3W_DNtPBTa

Play it again: On first-and-10 from the 20, quarterback Brian Hoyer's deep pass was intended for wide receiver Travis Benjamin but cornerback Josh Norman made a spectacular leaping catch for the interception. Norman quickly got up and sprinted free for a big return, but Benjamin trailed him, stripped the ball and recovered the fumble. The Browns went from a huge turnover to a first down on one play thanks to Benjamin.

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Travis Benjamin Favors Starting Manziel?

Browns players are in a tricky spot, until coach Mike Pettine declares which quarterback he’s starting.

They’ll profess loyalty to Brian Hoyer, because he’s gotten them this far. But they also see the same thing everyone sees from Johnny Manziel.

“I was excited to see him get a chance to show the league what he can do,” defensive end Billy Winn said. “He went out there and made everything come to life.”

Winn and other players said they trust Hoyer as well, and Manziel could complicate other aspects of the offense.

Wide receiver Travis Benjamin said Manziel’s scrambling ability makes his job different, along with his lack of experience.

“We just figure, as receivers, we have to work more,” Benjamin said. “If Johnny comes in the huddle and he pronounces the play wrong, we’ve got to make sure we correct it. We’ve got to make sure we correct him. Offensive linemen, tight ends, all the receivers, all the running backs, we’ve just got to make sure we’ve got to be in form when he’s in the game. . . .

“Johnny is a baller, no matter what. Ready or not, you put him in the game and if he doesn’t make the play with his arm, he’ll make the play with his legs. Running backs, receivers, tight ends and linemen also have to come together and help him and make sure we have limited mistakes so we can push Johnny to get the edge on people.”

While everyone wants to be polite to the workmanlike Hoyer, it’s seems apparent which way this one’s pointing, and it’s going to be exciting for a lot of people.

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Travis Benjamin's return to returns

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BEREA, Ohio -- Travis Benjamin has emerged as one of Brian Hoyer’s most reliable targets at wide receiver this season. It’s particularly good news for Benjamin because his previous bread-and-butter, returning punts, hasn’t been nearly as reliable.

Benjamin, who shared punt return duties in 2012 with Joshua Cribbs and took the reins from him in 2013, returned two punts for touchdowns in his first two seasons and averaged over 10 yards per return in 2013. He has struggled fielding punts this season, one in which the Browns' overall punt return game has been lacking. Despite his struggles, Benjamin, who recently returned to the job, will continue as the team’s punt returner Sunday in Atlanta.

"Yeah, he sure did," said special teams coordinator Chris Tabor when asked if Benjamin had done enough against Houston to keep the job. "He's going to be our punt returner. 'Rabbit' is going to be back there."

“(Confidence) never was a problem,” said Benjamin after practice on Thursday. “Throughout my years of catching punts it never was a problem. It’s all about getting refocused, knowing that, what’s on your plate -- knowing that you got to go to offense then go back to punt return -- it’s all about just settling in."

As for why he lost the punt return job in the first place?

“I wouldn’t say it was taken away,” said Benjamin "'cause I always had the call. 'Well, OK, (special teams coordinator Chris Tabor), this week I felt good,’ I was going back there. … Just sort of giving it the time to get my confidence back in myself and get the job done myself.”

Just to reiterate his confidence level, Benjamin stood by an earlier prediction he would have a punt return touchdown this season.

“Yes. I’m sticking to my prediction that I will have a punt return (touchdown) before the season is over with.”

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Hope For Travis Benjamin

PR Travis Benjamin is listed behind PR Jordan Poyer on the team's depth chart, but he still represents the Browns biggest threat in the punt return game.

However, Benjamin has had trouble hanging on to the ball and has relegated him to the sidelines. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said he hasn't given up on Benjamin as a punt returner.

"I haven't given up on him," Tabor said. "When the time is right, he'll go."

The Browns are averaging just 3.2 yards a return, but have had trouble hanging on to the ball.

Tabor said he's tried the most guys out since he's been here at punt returner. He said the players discuss the situation. Jim Leonhard handled the return duties against the Bengals, but even he fumbled a punt return which set up the only Bengals score.

"We talk about it. It is the elephant is in the room," Tabor said. "There's no other way to fix it than to keep working at it."

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Travis Benjamin goes 2-52 against Tampa Bay

Browns WR Travis Benjamin caught 2-of-4 targets for 52 yards in Sunday's Week 9 win over Tampa Bay.

A rotational receiver in Cleveland's offense a la Taylor Gabriel, Benjamin has big-play ability but plays limited snaps and sees limited targets. He will not be a fantasy option when the Browns take on the Bengals in Week 10.

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Smoke, Fire and Rabbits: How Travis Benjamin became one of the fastest players in the NFL

How did Travis Benjamin become one of the fastest and most dangerous deep threat wide receivers in the National Football League?

For that answer, let’s travel back to Belle Glade, Fla., a small town of 17,000 roughly an hour north of Miami. The year was 2002. Benjamin was a lanky 12-year-old and had impressed the older neighborhood kids who occasionally watched him play street football in their col-de-sac . The boys invited Benjamin to join them around a large farm, which happened to be on fire.

To the world, Belle Glade is known is one of the scarier places on the East Coast. According to a 1985 article from AEGIS, the city had the highest rate of AIDS per capita. And a 2003 FBI report cited the city as having the second highest violent crime rate in the country at 298 per 10,000 residents. Poverty is prevalent.
Belle Glade though is also home to Glades Central High School, which was won six state titles and has produced 11 players who have been drafted the past 20 years including four in the first round with Fred Taylor and Santonio Holmes being the most notable. Only seven high schools have had more players selected.

“Football is everything to my area,” said Benjamin.

To Floridians and to Benjamin, Belle Glade is known as “Muck City.” The town is tucked in the Southeastern corner of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. Regular torrential downpours have overflowed the lake for hundreds of years causing mucky conditions, in turn, which are ideal for the crop sugarcane to grow. 

Sugarcane fields look like the corn fields many are accustomed to seeing and they can grow up to seven feet tall, but most of the plant is just stalk and leaves – not the important sugar part. So from May to November, farmers light the sugarcane on fire. The process eases the manual labor, and the sugarcane falls right off the plant.

Why are we giving you a South Florida agriculture lesson? Because this is exactly where Benjamin’s world class speed was born.

Rabbits make their home inside these sugarcane fields. The smoke from the fires send hundreds of rabbits fleeing from their home.

Benjamin had always enviously watched the rabbits as a boy. Now he was getting his first chance to chase them down. The rabbits ran right, and left, north and south. With a large wooden stick in his hand, Benjamin attempted to slow down the rabbits. Some residents would eat the rabbits as cuisine, which tasted like pork chops. Others would sell them for $4 to neighboring towns.

On his very first time, Benjamin caught 15 rabbits in a mere two hours. Everyone watched the 12-year-old with their jaws dropped in astonishment. The people of Belle Glade had never seen anyone, let alone a child, chase down rabbits like this.

“I really do think chasing rabbits helped me develop agility,” said Benjamin, who guessed he chased rabbits 50 times in his life and caught hundreds of them. “Sometimes when I watch my punt returns on film, it reminds me of being a kid with the rabbits.”

Coach Mike Pettine and the Cleveland Browns fan base are thrilled with the fact that Benjamin has only gotten faster since his rabbit chasing days. The third season of an NFL career is often coined “the make or break year” for burgeoning professional players. All Benjamin is doing is leading the Browns with three touchdown receptions – two of which came in the fourth quarter in the NFL’s biggest road rally victory of all-time against the Tennessee Titans. Without Benjamin the Browns don’t overcome the 25-point deficit, which was so impressive, representatives from the Pro Football Hall of Fame mounted Benjamin and quarterback Brian Hoyer’s jersey in Canton.

Even though Benjamin’s neighborhood still gushed about his speed, it wasn’t until later in his high school career at Glades Central that he realized football might one day became his day job. As a freshman, Benjamin only weighed 130 pounds and decided to not even play football, fearing injury. While his friends played on the freshman team, Benjamin trained and put on weight.

His sophomore year Benjamin was placed on the junior varsity team for two games and immediately bumped up to varsity, once coaches realized no cornerback could cover him. As a junior, Benjamin caught 23 passes for 494 yards and seven touchdowns – two of those touchdowns came in a state championship win over and current Redskins running back Alfred Morris, and were reminiscent of the scoring plays against the Titans. 

The University of Miami coaching staff showed up to Benjamin’s high school spring game, heading into his senior year. They offered the wide receiver a scholarship on the spot and the four-star recruit accepted without hesitation. Benjamin grew up watching the Hurricanes every Saturday and fell in love with “The U” on the side of Miami’s helmets.

“My main focus is once I set a goal for myself, I’m going to stick to it,” said Benjamin, who was beginning to wonder if Miami was going to offer him a scholarship. “So I just stuck to it until I got an offer.”

The problem? The Hurricanes had offered seven other receivers, all with higher accolades than Benjamin. It didn’t matter to him, though, and not the coaches either. Benjamin beat out all the players to become the only true freshman to get regular playing time. By the time his college career ended, Miami fans knew Benjamin for more than his dreadlocks. Benjamin finished his tenure with the Hurricanes as one of only six players in program history with more than 2,000 receiving yards.

But Miami wasn’t the perennial powerhouse they were when Benjamin loved them as a kid. The Hurricanes went 29-22 in Benjamin’s four seasons, playing in bowl games with the names Emerald and Champ Sports, as opposed to Orange or Rose. 

So that’s why when the Cleveland Browns drafted Benjamin in the fourth round in 2012, he wrote down his goal: help restore the glory years to the city of Cleveland. 

“It was kind of disappointing that Miami wasn’t a championship caliber team, but it was also a learning experience knowing that we had the pieces to win, but you have ups and downs as a player and as a staff and team,” said Benjamin. “It was a blessing to be a fourth rounder and coming to Cleveland. I could say it was just like Miami was. Coming into a downfall of a team that, who needs to rebuild. And needs help from guys to rebuild it. And we’re about to get it right.”

Benjamin said because of the trades and uncertainty, his first two years were marred by guys not giving it their all. That’s the exact opposite with Pettine at the helm.

“The whole team has bought in,” said Benjamin. “From the receivers to the linemen to the defense. Everybody is willing to make that sacrifice. And that’s why you see us becoming a real team.”

When Benjamin’s career is all said and done, he wants people to remember him for mainly things, but one sticks out above the rest: that defensive players and coaches feared his presence.

If he keeps playing the way he has in 2014, Benjamin may need to set an even loftier goal.

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Travis Benjamin gets place in Canton

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton asked for the jerseys that QB Brian Hoyer and WR Travis Benjamin wore in last week's historic win over the Titans.

Hoyer threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Benjamin with 1:09 to play to complete the 25-point comeback win.

"It's pretty cool, especially a kid growing up here going to Canton all the time -- field trips, whatever it might be," Hoyer said. "To have something that I wore on display there is pretty cool, but with my luck, that record will get broken this week."


Three days after the #browns staged the greatest comeback by a road team in #nfl history, the jerseys of QB Brian Hoyer & @travisbenjamin11 are now on display!

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Travis Benjamin atones for return issues

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin could have let a mishandled punt and near turnover in the third quarter take him completely out of his game, but it was his persistence that led to Sunday's 29-28 win over the Tennessee Titans at L.P. Field.

Benjamin caught two fourth-quarter touchdowns, and heL.P.ed the Browns seal the largest comeback victory not only in franchise history, but also the biggest ever by a road team in the NFL.

"I grabbed him when he came off after the fumbled punt, and just said to him, 'Hang in there. Your job when you have a chance to make a play is to make a play,'" Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

"It's obvious he lacks confidence in the punt return game, but for a guy, that's just a microcosm of the team. Here's a guy that had something bad happen to him, and he didn't go in the tank. He bounced back and made two plays, including the game winner."

On first-and-10 from Tennessee's 17-yard line, quarterback Brian Hoyer dropped back deep into the backfield and avoided a rush from a Titans defender to find Benjamin wide open on the slant route in the middle of the end zone for the score.

"That was a play where our up-tempo offense gets their defense tired," Hoyer said. "Usually, when you come out there and it's that coverage, the defensive end is right up the field and you have to throw it quick, but he was so tired, I think. He kind of just shuffled along with me. I was able to pull up and I saw Travis just spring open in the end zone. I thought I overthrew him on that one too."

With 1:09 remaining in regulation, it was another Hoyer to Benjamin connection that erased an 18-point halftime deficit. Hoyer's six-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin tied the game at 28 all, and Billy Cundiff's extra point gave the Browns the one-point margin needed for victory.

Hoyer found Benjamin in the back of the end zone, similar to the manner in which he delivered the game-tying touchdown to the Browns' quick-footed wide receiver at the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular-season opener, on an in-and-out drag route along the back line of the end zone.

"On a play like that, we figured they were either going to all-out blitz us or three-man rush us," Hoyer said. "Right away, I could tell it was a three-man rush. Usually, with that, you're never going to hit a play on schedule. It was kind of a scramble drill without the scrambling.

"It's something we work on throughout the week, especially in the red zone, and Trav made a great move, in and out, kind of similar to Pittsburgh when he scored and I thought I overthrew him when I first threw it. But he got up, grabbed it, got his feet down and made a great play."

Hoyer completed four passes to Benjamin for 48 yards and the two touchdowns, but according to the veteran signal-caller, it was at his and Benjamin's worst that allowed them to build a chemistry that has come through on the field.

"My relationship with Trav goes back to when we were both rehabbing our ACLs," Hoyer said. "I love the guy to death because he's quiet, but he's one of the guys that texted me over the bye week and said, 'Hey man. We're better than this. I'm sitting here watching these guys and we can win in this league.'

"To see a guy who doesn't talk all the time but sends you a text message like that, it shows how much it means to him. I have a lot of faith in him, and our relationship grew as we rehabbed together."

Running back Ben Tate added, "The way he played today at the end, him making those plays, and Trav coming back from making a mistake earlier, getting two touchdowns and helping us win this game, that's big. That shows resilience. That's what you need when you're trying to take the next step."

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Travis Benjamin vows to 'showcase my skills' versus the Titans

BEREA, Ohio – Browns coach Mike Pettine isn't ready to replace Travis Benjamin as the team's primary punt returner.

After a tentative start, Benjamin plans to reward the coach's confidence in him.

"It's all got to do with me," Benjamin said of his early struggles. "I'm going to showcase my skills coming into the Tennessee game and put our special teams in the top rank where they're supposed to be."

The offense has flourished despite getting little field-position help from the special teams. Benjamin has returned just three punts for two yards while calling for five fair catches.

In the club's 23-21 loss to Ravens, the University of Miami product opted not to catch a fourth-quarter punt that bounced outside the 20 and rolled to 7 – flipping the field-position battle in the game's final two series.

No longer the primary kickoff returner, Benjamin admitted he was struggling a bit with his confidence. He muffed a first-quarter punt against the Ravens.
"There are plays out there where the adjustment is, 'I can make that play,' instead of 'I see this (defender) coming scot-free (so I'll) fair catch.' I have to be confident in making the first person miss all the time on special teams."

Both Pettine and Benjamin downplayed the impact of last year's season-ending knee injury. He's caught four passes for 69 yards, including a 43-yarder to set up the first touchdown versus Baltimore.

"He's playing very well," Pettine said of Benjamin in the pass game. "I think just about every week he's gotten behind the opponents' secondary, so I don't know if I would say the knee is necessarily a big factor there. I think it's just too early to panic in that situation."

Benjamin said it could take just one big return to get him in a groove again.

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Travis Benjamin plays it safe and late-game field position shifts because of it

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Travis Benjamin made one big catch Sunday afternoon.

But it was his decision not to try making another on special teams that also proved noteworthy in the Browns' 23-21 loss.

In the game's final minutes, Benjamin opted not to field a punt from the Ravens' Sam Koch around the 20-yard line at windswept FirstEnergy Stadium. Instead, the ball bounced and rolled all the way to the Browns' 7, pinning the home team deep in its end.

The Browns, clinging to a 21-20 lead, ran three plays before punting. The Ravens scored the game-winning field goal on the final possession after taking over at the 50 -- field position aided by Koch's 57-yard punt and Benjamin's decision not to catch it.

The Browns third-year pro, who caught a 43-yard, first-quarter pass setting up a touchdown, explained his decision to let the punt bounce.

"I wasn't afraid at all (to catch it)," he said. "I got up under the ball correctly and at the last minute, a gust of wind blew it and it went past my hand. I didn't want to go back and reach for the ball, so I just let it pass by."

Winds were gusting at 23 mph at kickoff, according to the official score sheet.

Benjamin also muffed a punt in the first quarter but recovered the ball. The Browns had no return yards on three punts Sunday.

Returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, The Rabbit has had a slow start in the special teams department. One of the league's most dangerous punt returners in 2013, Benjamin has run back just three for a total of 2 yards. He's also called for five fair catches.

He began the season as the primary kickoff returner but is now splitting time with Marlon Moore. Moore had the only kickoff return Sunday for 31 yards.  

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Marlon Moore replaces Travis Benjamin as kick returner

Marlon Moore has replaced Travis Benjamin as the Browns’ primary kick returner.
Special teams coach Chris Tabor made the decision to make Moore first on the depth chart, though he says he still believes in Benjamin. Benjamin has four returns for 85 yards. His longest return is 28 yards.
Moore returned one kick 32 yards last week against the Saints. He did not play in the first game because he was serving a one-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy before signing with the Browns. Moore returned six kicks in preseason for 197 yards — a 32.8 average. He had a long return of 52 yards.
“He did some great things for us in the preseason and deserved that opportunity,” Tabor said on Sept. 18. “Travis’ role expanded a little bit offensively, so we took a little off his plate there. But Travis Benjamin will still also return kicks for us this season.”
Benjamin suffered a torn ACL on a punt return against the Chiefs last year. He said he’s 100 percent and Tabor said he hasn’t detected any hesitation from Benjamin. But Benjamin has fair-caught five of seven punts. As a wide receiver, he has three catches for 26 yards.
“It’s just a depth chart to me,” Moore said after practice. “Outside looking in it means a lot, but inside this locker room, we know all the talent we have, so somebody has to be first on the depth chart.”
Kickers routinely boot the ball five yards or more into the end zone. A kick returner could have a 27-yard return average but still leave the ball for the offense inside the 20. Moore said a returner has to make a split-second decision while the ball is in the air.
“I want to take it out every time,” Moore said. “You have to take into consideration your team. That could be a selfish play if you want to make it that way. You could take it out 8, 9 yards deep and get tackled on the 15 and put your offense in a bad field position.
“Everybody wants to get across that 20. That’s my goal every time. If it’s 8, 9 deep, you really have to assess the situation. Is the ball in the air long? Is it a line drive so you can just catch it and go and catch the kick (coverage) team off guard? A lot goes into it.”
The Browns need a boost on their kick returns. Their average starting position is the 16.9-yard line — second-worst in the league. Arizona is last at 13.6. The Browns started inside the 20 four times. Benjamin returned kicks to the Cleveland 25, 14, 18 and 9 in the season opener.
Cameron ‘very limited’
Tight end Jordan Cameron will likely miss his second straight game with a shoulder injury. He was listed as “limited” on Sept. 18 injury report, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Cameron was “very limited.”
“I think it can go either way,” Shanahan said. “Really, in my mind, it’s the same as last week. I’m definitely hoping he can be ready. You’ve got to have some stuff available for him, but when a guy is limited on a Thursday, you know there’s no guarantee. You can’t game-plan all around him.”
Cameron said the same thing he did the previous day. He will wake up and see how it feels.
If he rests the shoulder against the Ravens, he will have another week to rest it because the Browns are on their bye Sept. 28.
“I want to play. But if I can’t, I won’t,” Cameron said. “We still have a lot of season left. We have 13 more games and hopefully more.”
Linebacker Barkevious Mingo was also limited with a shoulder injury. Running back Ben Tate (knee) did not practice.

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Travis Benjamin has Tabor's support

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin did not have the return to regular-season game action that he wanted to have in the 2014 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field last Sunday.

Benjamin averaged 21.3 yards over four returns, took out a kickoff that was nine yards deep in the end zone and failed to make it to the 15-yard line, and singled for three fair catches on four punt returns.

"There would probably one or two returns I felt I could've made a better play at, so we're going to get it started with New Orleans this week," Benjamin said after Thursday's practice.

Midway through the second quarter, Benjamin dropped back nine yards deep into the end zone to return a kickoff, but ran out of bounds at the Browns' nine-yard line. Six plays later, the Browns were forced to punt.

"It was just miscommunication by my part, knowing that it was a field return, so when I caught the ball and came out of the end zone, everybody just ran over there toward the return, so I just tried to get the best yardage I can and get out of bounds," Benjamin said.

"Depending on how the game is, if we know they're slower on kickoff, not getting in their lanes on kickoff, we'll bring it out eight or nine deep. It was just my communication on my behalf that eight or nine deep, knowing the team we're playing against not to bring it out."

When he stepped onto the field in Pittsburgh last Sunday, Benjamin was playing in his first game back since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in an October loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium last season. However, he insisted there was no hesitation on his part, "not at all."

"When we were reviewing film, I saw that it was one punt return where I fair caught it where I could've caught it and made a move, but it's all about the change of the game," Benjamin said. "If I had questions about my knee, I wouldn't be out there. I wouldn't put myself in the situation to make my team get into bad position."

Although Benjamin struggled against the Steelers, he still has the belief and support of his special-teams coordinator, Chris Tabor.

"I still have a lot of confidence in Travis," Tabor said. "By no means am I going with 'the sky is falling' after one game. I still look at a young man that still holds the franchise record for the longest return, franchise record for the most yards in a game.

"I think that the first pre-season/regular-season game, the first seven times he touched it, he had four touchdowns. I still think it's in there, and it's just his first game back."

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Travis Benjamin Returns to Practice Wednesday

Benjamin (ribs) was present at practice Wednesday, the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

Benjamin left Monday night's preseason game with a ribs injury, but as expected, the ailment's minor nature allowed the wideout to practice as usual Tuesday. Given his normal involvement, Benjamin should be good to go for Saturday's third preseason game and moving forward into the regular season.

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Travis Benjamin injures rib in Cleveland Browns' preseason loss

Cleveland Browns receiver Travis Benjamin sustained a rib injury in the third quarter of his 2014 preseason debut against the Washington Redskins. Benjamin was also treated for a possible concussion, but passed the test.

He did not return to the Browns' 24-23 loss in Washington.

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Browns receiver-returner sustained a rib injury later in the third quarter after getting hammered by Washington Redskins' defensive back Bacarri Rambo on a play that resulted in a Johnny Manziel sack. Benjamin, who stayed down for several moments, was checked for a concussion, but doctors determined he suffered no head trauma.

Benjamin is listed third at wide receiver on the Browns depth chart, behind Josh Gordon and Andrew Hawkins, but Gordon could be suspended up to a full year for a failed drug test. Along with his receiver duties, Benjamin will field punts and kickoffs this season. 

There has been no timeline for how long Benjamin will be sidelined.

The receiver missed the final eight games last year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

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Travis Benjamin Hoping To See Action

Benjamin (knee) is hoping to return a few kicks during Monday's preseason matchup with the Redskins, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram reports.

Benjamin, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, has impressed the Browns' coaching staff thus far in camp. While he's hoping to expand his role outside of special teams, he'll first need to prove he's healthy enough to handle kick-return duties. Benjamin sat out last weekend's preseason opener against Detroit.

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Travis Benjamin feels faster coming back from torn ACL

Cleveland Browns wide receiver and return specialist Travis Benjamin, the fastest player on the roster before he suffered a torn ACL in 2013, feels he’ll be faster in his comeback.

“I actually feel much faster than I was before. Mostly I focused on my lower body and getting it stronger knowing that I had an ACL surgery,” said Benjamin.

Benjamin was injured returning a punt on Oct, 27 and had to rehab relentlessly to be ready for the start of camp July 25.

He added after a 50-yard catch from Johnny Manziel that he also feels he can stretch the field and catch sharp balls and long balls.

Benjamin, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick from Miami, caught 18 passes as a rookie. One was a 69-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He caught five passes last year and one of those covered 39 yards. He had one carry for 45 yards in 2013 and six in 2012. One of those went for 35 yards.

He has six career kick returns for 222 yards — a 37.0 average, and has 25 career punt returns for a 16.7 average.

“I always feel like I’m the fastest guy in the NFL. I’m just waiting for the challenge,” said Benjamin.

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Travis Benjamin Sees Increasing Role

The Rabbit, the fastest player on the Browns’ roster before a knee injury ended his 2013 season, is back and hopping faster than ever.
The Rabbit is slender Travis Benjamin, who earned his nickname as a legendary rabbit catcher in his hometown of Bell Grade, Fla. More on that in a few paragraphs.
Benjamin is the kick returner, punt returner and deep-throw threat on a Browns team that sorely is in need of a reliable wide receiver. Josh Gordon is that player now, but he is likely to be suspended for all or part of 2014 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Any day now, or maybe that should be any month, the league is expected to rule on Gordon’s appeal, which concluded Aug. 4.
Benjamin’s season was smoothly sailing along last year until a gruesome knee injury in Kansas City ended his season.
Brian Hoyer has received more attention for his torn ACL because he’s a quarterback, but Benjamin was injured returning a punt on Oct, 27, 24 days after Hoyer went down, and had to rehab just as relentlessly to be ready for the start of camp on July 25.
“I always feel like I can stretch the field, catch sharp balls, long balls.” Benjamin said on Aug. 13 after a 50-yard catch from Johnny Manziel on the right sideline highlighted a very productive practice. “I actually feel much faster than I was before. Mostly I focused on my lower body and getting it stronger knowing that I had an ACL surgery. I always feel like I’m the fastest guy in the NFL. I’m just waiting for the challenge.”
Speed and quickness were priceless traits for a young boy growing up in Belle Grade, where rabbit catching is a rite of passage. Benjamin said his older brother would tell tales of the sport when Travis was too young to chase Peter Cottontail.
Benjamin’s time of glory came when he reached middle school. The game was on when the sugarcane was burned and the rabbits started running. “The biggest trick is, as a group, surround the bushes and when the rabbits hear you coming they just rush out and go any way,” Benjamin said. “Knowing you have a circle, you’re able to catch it.
“Sometimes you dive. Sometimes you have a stick or something in your hand so when you see it you just have to jump on it. One day I caught 20, 25 rabbits. I was telling (teammates and coaches) the story and they didn’t believe it, so they’ve called me “Rabbit” ever since. Now I go to the grocery store and everybody calls me Rabbit.”
Rabbit is a delicacy in Bell Grade.
“Kind of tender, almost like pork chops,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick from Miami, has six career kick returns for 222 yards — a 37.0 average. He has 25 career punt returns for a 16.7 average. He had an 86-yard kick return (no touchdown) plus a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown last year. He returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in 2012.
Benjamin caught 18 passes as a rookie. One was a 69-yard catch and run for a touchdown. He caught five passes last year and one of those covered 39 yards. He had one carry for 45 yards in 2013 and six in 2012. One of those went for 35 yards.
The Rabbit doesn’t get his hands on the ball often. But when he does, good things happen for the Browns.
“It’s hard to have a roster spot just for a guy and all he does is return,” Coach Mike Pettine said. “He has to be able to function on one side of the ball or the other. In Kyle’s offense over the years, he’s had that guy that can kind of take the roof off. I think that’s important.”
Benjamin is ready to tear that roof off, even if he’ll find no rabbits under it.

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Travis Benjamin will return kickoffs and punts

BEREA, Ohio – Browns coaches have given Travis Benjamin a couple days off during training camps as he returns from a serious knee injury.

But the special-teams standout known as The Rabbit will draw double duty on game days.

Special teams coach Chris Tabor said Benjamin will return punts and kickoffs, a multi task he was performing at midseason a year ago when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

"He's obviously an explosive weapon," Tabor said. "We're in the business of winning games and he gives you the opportunity for a big play. You can't play this game scared and you can't coach this game scared."

Benjamin averaged 11.7 yards per punt return a season ago and set a franchise record with 179 yards on Oct. 3 against the Buffalo Bills. He was just starting to return kickoffs – three for a 48.7 yard average – at the time of his injury Oct. 27 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tabor doesn't seem concerned about overextending Benjamin, who also will get some reps at receiver.

"(Against) Kansas City he went to spin another time (on a punt return) and it (was) a non-contact injury," Tabor said.   "That can happen at any time. He's healthy, he's running well, he's catching the ball well and to me he appears very fast."

First-round pick Justin Gilbert expressed interest in returning kicks, but coach Mike Pettine wants him focused on cornerback. He'll be used only on an "emergency" basis.

 Benjamin is anxious to test the surgically-repaired knee in a game. It's unclear if the coaches will use him Saturday against Detroit.

"It's going to be great," Benjamin said. "Knowing that I've been out of football for seven, eight months now. Just to get back in the swing of things, there's going to be butterflies for that first hit, just to get the jitterbugs out of the way."

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Travis Benjamin caps successful comeback with new title

BEREA — Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin underwent reconstructive right knee surgery last Nov. 15, but his recovery is well ahead of schedule.

Special teams coach Chris Tabor has been so impressed with Benjamin’s comeback that he named him the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner Thursday.

“We’re in the business of winning games, and Travis gives you an opportunity for a big play,” Tabor said. “Obviously, he’s an explosive weapon, and if he’s our best player doing it, then we’re going to put him out there and do it.

“He’s done a great job already in training camp, which is why Travis is going to be our returner this season.”

Benjamin averaged 48.7 yards on three kickoff returns and 11.7 yards on 22 punt runbacks before disaster struck eight games into the 2013 season.
While returning a punt on Oct. 27, the speedster from Miami (Fla.) caught his right cleat in the turf during a spin move at Arrowhead Stadium, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

“It was a non-contact injury in Kansas City that can happen at any time,” Tabor lamented. “But Travis is healthy now, he’s running well, he’s catching the ball well. And to me, he still appears very fast.”

Benjamin also believes that is the case, which is why he was pleased to hear Tabor’s announcement. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder has wanted to serve as Cleveland’s lone return man since being drafted in 2012, but this will mark his first opportunity to do so.

“It’s going to be great, knowing that I can be a big factor, that playmaker that gives us that extra yard we need to be a successful team,” said Benjamin, who has scored two touchdowns on 25 career punt returns.

“Just to get back in the swing of things, there are going to be butterflies on that first hit, so it will be nice to get the jitterbugs out of the way.”

Though the Browns play their preseason opener Saturday in Detroit, it’s likely that Benjamin won’t see significant time until the regular season begins Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh.

Tabor said he plans on using several other players to run back kicks against the Lions, preferring to save his most dangerous weapon for the Steelers.

“It makes no difference to me,” Benjamin said. “Whether it’s a kick return or punt return, it’s all about setting the offense up so we can go down and score touchdowns. As a unit, we’ll scheme it up and block it how Coach Tabor wants us to, and make the best out of it for the team.”

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A healthy Travis Benjamin could be significant for Cleveland Browns

There is no other position group quite like the Cleveland Browns' wide receivers. This competition should be named the Grand Canyon – it’s that wide open.  
Earlier this week my colleague Vic Carucci penned this column, analyzing the impact Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins and Anthony Armstrong could have on the offense. This eclectic quartet of newcomers each carry a variety of traits to the field and locker room.

Burleson brings route running and an influential spirit; Austin is a professional and has size; Hawkins is slippery and a deep threat; Armstrong is a master of the playbook and lengthy.

In the shuffle of all the fresh faces, we all may have forgotten about a familiar one: Travis Benjamin. On Thursday, the University of Miami alum tweeted this:

For a range of reasons, a healthy Travis Benjamin is another thought-provoking piece to this puzzle.

Because of all the accolades and jaw dropping moments Josh Gordon produced during the 2013 season, some of the big plays from Benjamin have flown under the radar. He was only able to haul in five passes before his ACL injury, but those receptions went for 105 yards – good for 21 yards a catch. Benjamin can fly.

In terms of potential, Benjamin’s ceiling is higher than you think. He’s only 24 years old. And now he’ll be given the chance to provide evidence in practice that he's more than just a reliable return man. Kyle Shanahan will be looking for home run hitters in his offense to stretch the field.

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Travis Benjamin could go on training camp PUP

Browns WR/PR Travis Benjamin (knee) is a candidate to open training camp on the active/PUP list.

Benjamin wasn't cleared to participate in OTAs this week and is still recovering from November ACL surgery. He won't be ready to return until training camp at the earliest. Benjamin will compete for the Browns' punt return job when healthy.

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Travis Benjamin: (Knee) Sidelined Until Training Camp

Coach Mike Pettine said that the Browns plan to keep Benjamin (knee) sidelined until the start of training camp, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

Benjamin, who is bouncing back from a torn ACL that he suffered last season, will need to re-prove his health before re-emerging on the fantasy radar, but prior to his injury, the 2012 fourth-rounder had displayed some big play upside. The Browns added Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins to their wideout mix this offseason, which affords the team the luxury of easing Benjamin back in.

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Travis Benjamin has tear in knee

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns punt returner Travis Benjamin will miss the rest of the season after because of a torn ACL in his knee.

Benjamin, also a wide receiver, hurt the knee on a return with 2:34 left in the third quarter of Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said the injury took place when Benjamin planted and twisted as he headed upfield.

Benjamin averaged 11.7 yards per punt return and scored on a 79-yarder against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 3, when he set a team record with 179 yards in returns.

"Travis obviously is a big part of what we do and has been in terms of return game," Chudzinski said Monday. "He's explosive and has the speed and ability to make a big play."

The Browns will turn to Davone Bess as their primary punt returner. Bess, though, had a crucial fumble in the loss to the Chiefs.

Chudzinski said another option would be to use Joe Haden, though he would prefer not to use the talented cornerback on special teams.

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Travis Benjamin to see time on kickoffs

While Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said Wednesday, Oct. 23, that RB Fozzy Whittaker will serve as the team's new kickoff return man, he added that WR Travis Benjamin will also see opportunities on kickoffs.

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Travis Benjamin runs for 45 yards on end around (GIF)


The Cleveland Browns found themselves down early to the Detroit Lions thanks to tight end Joseph Fauria’s one-yard touchdown reception, and odd, yet awesome, touchdown celebration.

The Cleveland Browns followed that score with a 3 and out, not what they were hoping for. The Browns defense helped them out on the following series holding the Lions to a 3 and out as well.

On the following series the Browns got the break they needed. On first and 10, the opening drive of the play, they called an end around to Travis Benjamin. He rumbled for 45 yards to help them get on the other side of the 50 yard line for the first time of the game.

A Lions defender chases him down the field out of nowhere because it looked like Benjamin’s wheels were going to be too much for the Lions defense to handle. He had a lead blocker as well.

Benjamin didn’t score but the play helped the Bengals score. The Bengals got to the 4 yard line and Chris Ogbonnaya took it in for a touchdown to tie the game.

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'Rabbit' followed trail from Glades to NFL

Like many players before him and many who will follow, Travis Benjamin has speed and ability borne from the muck and sugar fields near his home on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee.

Belle Glade is in the western end of Palm Beach County, in Florida, some 44 miles from Palm Beach itself. But Belle Glade and Pahokee, the tiny city next to it, are as far from the glitz and wealth of Worth Avenue as life can be.

The Glades, as the area is known, is home to sugar-cane fields and poverty. At one time the area was known as the AIDS capital of the country. At other times, it has been home to migrants who work in the fields during harvest time.

In the late fall, the cane stalks are burned, and smoke fills the sky. That’s when the locals head to the fields and partake in a right of passage that goes back decades. As the fields burn, the rabbits flee the fire and smoke, and young men chase the rabbits that escape from the burning fields. There they hone the speed, quickness and agility that are the hallmarks of future NFL players.

It sounds corny, but it happens. And the list of NFL players from the Glades is long -- and will continue to be as long as sports is a way out for so many in the area. Those who get out succeed. Those who don’t can be led to the same self-defeating cycle of drugs and crime that capture so many.

“It’s very important,” Benjamin said of the long-held practice of chasing rabbits. “It’s a great tradition.”

Benjamin remembers chasing the way the rabbits ran … stopping, starting, darting back and forth, all at rapid-fire pace. Benjamin says he caught 20 in one day, and he’s seen another gentleman catch 60 or 70.

“It’s nothing to it,” Benjamin said. “And once you go out there and you know the tendencies of what the rabbit's gonna do, and you know when they’re gonna come out, it’s a great feeling.”

It sounds as if he studied video the way the Cleveland Browns study opponents, but Benjamin studied something more important -- those who came before him.

“You catch 'em and sell 'em or catch 'em and eat 'em,” Benjamin said. “They kind of taste like pork chops to me.”

There’s something in the dark muck that produces the sugar cane, because it produces a number of football players greatly out of proportion to the combined populations of around 24,000. Among them are Fred Taylor, Santonio Holmes, Anquan Boldin and Andre Waters. When Inside Sports magazine was founded, one of the stories in one of the first issues was written by Gary Smith and detailed Rickey Jackson and Remuise Johnson, two Belle Glade stars, one of whom made it in the NFL, the other who went on to become a minister in Boynton Beach.

“Playing ball is a high priority for us,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin now has a nickname that takes him back to the Glades. The Browns have had a Flea, an Ice Cube, a Turkey and some Dawgs.

Now they have Travis Benjamin, the Rabbit.

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Travis Benjamin Named AFC Special Teams Player Of The Week

BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Travis Benjamin woke up the Cleveland Browns last Thursday night with a pair of punt returns in the second quarter.

Wednesday he was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Benjamin returned a punt 57 yards to set up a field goal before taking a 79-yard return the distance as he dodges Bills defenders en route to the end zone in the Browns’ 37-24 win over Buffalo.

Benjamin broke Eric Metcalf’s franchise record for punt return yardage in a game set in Oct. of 1993 with 179 punt return yards.

Benjamin is second in the league with both an average of 15.1 yards per punt return and 256 total punt-return yards. He is also the only NFL player with two 50-yard punt returns in a contest this season.

Benjamin is the second Browns player in the young season to win AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Punter Spencer Lanning earned the honor in Week 3. This is the second AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award for Benjamin, who also won in Week 14 in 2012.

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Video: Travis Benjamin on the art of returning punts

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BEREA, Ohio -- Travis Benjamin set a Cleveland Browns single-game record for punt returns with 179 yards in seven attempts during Thursday night's game against the Bills.

Benjamin's longest return of the night was for 79 yards and a touchdown.  He also ran 57 yards on another.

On the season, Benjamin ranks second in the NFL in punt returns with 256 yards in 17 attempts.  Dexter McCluster leads with 285 yards in 21 attempts for the Chiefs.

"Once I get on the level where they compare me to Devin Hester, I'll feel like I'm the best," Benjamin said after practice Monday.

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Returns on Travis Benjamin trending up

One of the best returners in Cleveland Browns history left the team in the offseason.

As it turns out, the Browns may be using a faster, more elusive punt returner -- and in the end he may turn out to be just as good and maybe better than Josh Cribbs. Travis Benjamin has more quickness and pure speed than Cribbs, and when he gets any room to maneuver he is a threat.

Benjamin only returns punts -- he’s too frail to return kickoffs -- but Thursday night in the win over Buffalo he had a 79-yard return for a touchdown and a 57-yard return. Total, he set a team record with 179 yards in returns (the previous record was held by Eric Metcalf, who returned two punts for TDs in a win over Pittsburgh in October 1993).

“Fabulous,” coach Rob Chudzinski said after the game.

“Fastest man on the field,” tight end Jordan Cameron said.

All he needs is room to get going. And Bills punter Shawn Powell gave Benjamin room plenty of times. His kicks were long -- 45.5 yards -- but they were low, and he kept outkicking the coverage (sort of like I did with my wife). To the point that Buffalo released Powell the day after the game.

“It’s only a matter of time in this league before you get exposed,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said.

Benjamin has room to grow. He goes through games where he has trouble catching the ball, or does little on returns. He’s also so small that there is a constant risk of being injured.

Too, on the 59-yard return he let Powell shove him out of bounds. The cardinal sin for a returner is being stopped by the punter. Benjamin let it happen on the first, but on the second he ran through the tackle.

The key to any success is consistency, and Benjamin had a strong preseason but averaged just 7.7 yards per return in the first four games.

He provides hope with this game.

Letting Cribbs go was the right decision by the new Browns regime -- even though it was disappointing for the fans, it was time.

Counting on Benjamin was a risk. A year ago he looked small and injury prone and too inconsistent to play on offense. There’s a lot of guys who try to rely on pure speed who don’t succeed in football.

But Benjamin made a statement about his value against the Bills.

He just needs to continue what he started.

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GIF: Travis Benjamin's 79-yard punt return for a TD


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Travis Benjamin sets Browns punt return record

With starting quarterback Brian Hoyer out with a knee injury, the Cleveland Browns got a boost from punt returner Travis Benjamin Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills.

Benjamin set a Browns’ franchise record with 179 yards on punt returns against the Bills. With the game tied at 10-10 late in the second quarter against Buffalo, Benjamin returned a punt from Shawn Powell 79 yards for a touchdown to give the Browns a lead before halftime.

Benjamin broke the prior record of 166 yards on returns set by Eric Metcalf against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993. Benjamin had seven returns against the Bills Thursday and averaged 25.6 yards per attempt. Metcalf set his record on just two returns against the Steelers as he returned both punts for touchdowns – 91 yards and 75 yards, respectively.

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Travis Benjamin mooned stadium after pants malfunction

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin is the latest NFL player to suffer a wardrobe malfunction while on the field.

Two weeks ago it was Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Tyson Jackson whose pants fell down during a game, and this week it was Benjamin suffering the same fate.

Uncensored photo plus a GIF of when it happened is below:



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Week 2 NFL proCane Photos

proCane Texans WR Andre Johnson (80)
Bears proCane KR Devin Hester (23)
proCane Falcons P Mat Bosher
proCane Colts WR Reggie Wayne (87)
proCane Browns WR Travis Benjamin (80)
proCane Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (93)

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Travis Benjamin expects to return kickoffs vs. Miami

BEREA, Ohio -- Travis Benjamin is prepared for triple duty against the Dolphins.

The Browns' second-year receiver revealed Thursday that he expects to return kickoffs in addition to his punt return chores and sharing time with receiver Davone Bess in place of Josh Gordon.

"I don't know about the opening kick, but hopefully I'll be back there,'' said Benjamin. "Right now we're going through the schemes of the kickoff the Dolphins have. It depends on what they come out with.''

Johnson Bademosi is listed first on the depth chart at kick returner, but coach Rob Chudzinski said Benjamin and Buster Skrine, who was added to the injury report Thursday with a shoulder injury and was limited, can also handle the chore. New running backs Bobby Rainey and Dennis Johnson have also been working there.

"I'm in great shape,'' said Benjamin, a diminutive 5-10, 175. "I know I can return kickoffs, punts and play offense. I'm just ready to go out there and play.''

He said he didn't know if he'd be the first man up on kickoff returns. He returned a punt 91 yards for a TD in preseason and took one back a team-record 93 yards last season.

"It's really not a first-team (thing),'' he said. "It's kind of a scheme thing, knowing how they kick the ball, where the placement of the ball is. We'll just go in there and figure out what type of scheme they're in and we'll just rotate in.''

He said the three-pronged role is not too much for him, and that he doesn't let his size be a factor.

"I've done it plenty of times before,'' he said.

As a senior at the University of Miami, Benjamin returned 25 kickoffs for 592 yards and a 23.7-yard average. He returned 11 punts for 121 yards that year and caught 41 passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns.

The Browns kept Benjamin largely off the grid during preseason, but they'll be counting on him and Bess to make the kind of big plays that Gordon would make if he weren't suspended two games.

"They have to,'' said offensive coordinator Norv Turner. "We've worked on all the things that we’re going to do with them and they’ve been practicing at a high level. It's been great to have Davone back. He not only missed those games, he missed quite a bit of practice. He's a veteran player, he can handle it. It's still making sure he’s on the same page with Brandon (Weeden). Those guys just have to step up and make the plays that are there for them.''

Benjamin, one of the two fastest Browns along with Skrine, said he doesn't think any of the Dolphins' corners could beat him in a footrace.

"I wouldn't say that,'' he said. "(But) they have some pretty quick guys and it's all about technique and all about the little things.''

He said he and Bess are excited to fill in for Gordon.

"Yes, it's kind of the 'next man up' mentality,'' he said. "We know when the ball comes our way, just take advantage of the opportunity. Josh is a great player. He's a big target for us. We just have to get him out of the gameplan and me and Davone have to be the next man up to go and play well.''

He said it's not imperative to hit a big play early.

"No, not really,'' he said. "We don't want to play into their advantage. We just want to go out there and play our football, whether it's a deep one early, late or in the middle.''

He said he's most improved in route-running since his rookie year, when he caught 18 balls for 298 yards and two TDs, including a long of 69.

"(It's) getting in and out of my breaks because of my speed and going out there and keeping my advantage on the field,'' he said.

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Travis Benjamin will make steady leap

Chris Pokorny on Dawgs By Nature talks about Travis Benjamin making the biggest jump in improvement this season.

"Although I feel quarterback Brandon Weeden will make steady improvements in his second year, I'm going with wide receiver Travis Benjamin. He had just 18 catches for 298 yards in 2012, but should be given a lot more opportunities to use his speed to stretch the field in Norv Turner's offensive system. More important, though, will be his contributions as a punt returner.

Benjamin's success rate in his recent punt return attempts is simply remarkable. When he got one opportunity late last season to return a punt, he took it back 93 yards for a touchdown. In the first preseason game this year, he had a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown. In the second preseason game, he had another punt return for a touchdown (which was nullified by an iffy penalty). Benjamin could very well be one of the league's fastest players, and it won't be long before teams are trying to angle the ball away from him. He could really help the offense out in terms of field position in 2013."

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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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So far, Benjamin has been money in the bank

BEREA — Travis Benjamin made the play of the game in the preseason opener vs. the St. Louis Rams. He sprinted across the field, turned the corner and was gone — untouched — on a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown.

On Thursday against the Lions, he had an 82-yard return for a touchdown called back by a holding penalty.

Benjamin’s bursts reminded everyone — even Joshua Cribbs’ biggest fans — of the impact he can have in the return game.

His work at receiver throughout the offseason and in training camp has alerted anyone who’s paid attention that he’s not a one-trick pony.

“He’s a guy who busts his (butt) and works hard and he wants to be more than a punt returner — and he is,” receivers coach Scott Turner said. “He’s a receiver and he’s a guy who’s going to contribute and play a large role in our offense.”

That’s music to Benjamin’s ears.

“I feel like with my speed and my talent, either in special teams or whenever I get on the field, I can make a difference,” he said.

Benjamin (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) is a leading candidate for most-improved player from 2012. He’s among the leaders in practice catches and hasn’t dropped many. A practice doesn’t go by without Benjamin doing something worthy of a tweet or jot in the notebook.

“He has gotten a lot better,” said coach Rob Chudzinski, who went to the University of Miami two decades before Benjamin. “He’s using his speed better in his routes. As opposed to last year, where he was just a guy that ran deep, this year up to this point he has shown ability to run the shorter routes as well and get in and out of breaks really well.”

With 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Benjamin will always have the ability to sprint by the cornerback and safety. His two receiving touchdowns as a rookie last year — he added a 93-yard punt return for a score — came on 22- and 69-yard catches from Brandon Weeden. He averaged 16.6 yards on 18 catches in 14 games, including three starts.

The growth in Benjamin’s game this season is most evident in the intermediate routes. The 15-yard out from Weeden has become almost unstoppable, and the 12-yard in has also been effective.

“There’s plenty of targets out there but him knowing my speed and my ability to get open quicker and faster, I think that’s why he comes to me,” Benjamin said.
He is always a threat to blow by the cornerback, which opens up the playbook. His improved route running makes the shorter patterns so productive.

“The deep, moderate type of routes are good,” Turner said. “But a guy like him, he can run them all, he can get in and out of things pretty well, so he’s encouraging.

“I was excited about him when I saw from him on film because of his ability to run. I felt like with some maturity there was some more there.”

Benjamin credits his offseason workouts in Boca Raton, Fla., with Anquan Boldin and other NFL receivers for helping his routes. Boldin, 32, has never been a blazer but has made a Pro Bowl career with the ability to get open.

His best advice?

“Stay focused. Be crafty with your technique,” Benjamin said. “Be crafty in your routes because only you know where you’re going on the field in the route running.”

Closer to home, he has advisers in Greg Little and veteran slot receiver Davone Bess.

“It’s just more crisp,” Little said of Benjamin’s route running this year. “Travis is so fast and sometimes when he cuts it’s rounded.

“Travis’ top speed is obviously here (putting his hand above his head), so you don’t have to go top speed. Go one or two notches under that and still you’re playing at a high level, and guys know you’re fast and obviously are going to be aware of that when you’re coming off the ball.”

Benjamin will need to come out of the gate quickly. Starter Josh Gordon is suspended for the first two games, so Benjamin will likely slide into his spot. When everyone’s available, Benjamin is the fourth receiver behind Gordon, Little and Bess.

“I’m going to go into Game 1 vs. the Dolphins looking to come out with a great game, just to fill in for Josh,” Benjamin said. “And through Game 2 and Game 3 just play the best I can.”

“We will use him as a receiver, whether Josh is there or not,” Chudzinski said. “He’s definitely somebody we want to take advantage of and find a role for. He will be more important in those first couple games.”

Through limited time in two preseason games, Benjamin has two catches for 21 yards. The spectacular has shown up on his returns, even eliciting a congratulatory text from Cribbs, Cleveland’s kick returner from 2005-12.

“Josh is a great person to me,” Benjamin said. “He was a great mentor while he was here in Cleveland. By watching him and learning the things he did, it’s coming along into my game. He always gave me great advice.”

Cribbs has 40 pounds of muscle on Benjamin and uses his strength to break tackles and into the clear. Benjamin uses his speed to run to daylight.

He’s not flashy and speaks softly, but his ego is obvious when discussing his speed. He ranks himself the fastest guy on the team and among the top five in the league, joining Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and Titans running back Chris Johnson.

When he’s running free, nobody can catch him.

“I think if I get the edge on you, it’s me all the way,” Benjamin said.

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Travis Benjamin is known for speed, but he’s also becoming more complete receiver

BEREA: Wide receiver Travis Benjamin believes he’s the fastest player on the Browns’ roster.

But where does his speed rank among all NFL players?

“Top five,” Benjamin, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds the summer before his junior season at the University of Miami, said without hesitation.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Benjamin certainly looked like one of the league’s quickest athletes as he turned the corner and left the St. Louis Rams in his dust en route to a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown Thursday night in the preseason opener at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 27-19, and with Benjamin’s touchdown early in the second quarter, the starters outscored the Rams 17-0 before taking the rest of the game off.

Linebacker James-Michael Johnson made the first block to spring the return, and cornerback Trevin Wade delivered the last one to ensure Benjamin would reach the end zone untouched. He’ll also look to blaze by the Detroit Lions when the Browns host them Thursday night in the second exhibition game.

“There were some great blocks out there, and once I knew JMJ had sealed the edge off for me, I knew it was going to be a touchdown,” said Benjamin, a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft. … “I think if I get the edge on you, it’s me all the way.”

Benjamin is filling Josh Cribbs’ big shoes as the primary punt returner for the Browns. Cribbs gave Benjamin him some love on Twitter after his big play against the Rams.

“Congrats son!!!” Cribbs, who signed with the Oakland Raiders in the offseson, wrote on Twitter. “I heard about the return. Keep it going all season.”

Benjamin said Cribbs, a three-time Pro Bowler and special-teams force who played for the Browns the past eight seasons, took him under his wing last year.

“Josh is a great person to me,” said Benjamin, who had a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown as a rookie. “He was a great mentor while he was here in Cleveland. By watching him and learning the things he did, it’s coming along into my game. … He’d tell me what to watch for [like] how to read the punter’s foot. So he always gave me great advice.”

Benjamin is not only aiming to contribute as a dynamic returner, but also as a receiver. He got started on that path by catching a pass for 12 yards against Rams. Last season, he played 14 games and tallied 18 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns. In June, quarterback Brandon Weeden estimated that Benjamin had more catches during spring practices than any other receiver on the team.

“He has gotten a lot better,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “He’s using his speed better in his routes. As opposed to last year, where he was just a guy that ran deep, this year up to this point, he has shown ability to run the shorter routes as well and get in and out of breaks really well.”

Benjamin polished his route running this offseason with San Francisco 49ers veteran receiver Anquan Boldin. They were among the NFL players who worked out under the guidance of trainer Tony Villani in Boca Raton, Fla.

For the record, Browns cornerback Buster Skrine ran the 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds before his junior season at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and still contends he’s a bit faster than Benjamin. Skrine, though, also gives Benjamin credit for evolving into a more complete receiver.

“His routes have gotten a lot better,” Skrine said. “Everybody knew he was a deep threat the first year he came in, but this year he’s an intermediate threat, too. He spent a lot of time in the offseason running routes, and he’s doing a good job of it.

“He’s super dangerous ’cause he’ll catch the ball and run away from you if you’re not in the right spot. As ya’ll saw on Thursday, he did that on a punt return. He’s been doing it on intermediate routes, too, in practice.”

The Browns need Benjamin to step up in his second professional season, especially because the NFL has suspended their No. 1 wide receiver, Josh Gordon, for the first two games of the regular season for violating its substance-abuse policy. Gordon blamed prescription cough medicine that contained codeine, a substance banned by the league, for triggering a failed drug test.

“We will use [Benjamin] as a receiver whether Josh is there or not during the course of the season,” Chudzinski said. “He’s a guy with a unique skill set with the speed that he has. He’s definitely somebody we want to take advantage of and find a role for. He will be more important in those first couple games.”

Benjamin is on track join Greg Little and Davone Bess as the team’s top-three receivers during Gordon’s absence. He is determined to make the most of the opportunity, beginning with the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

“I’m going to go into Game 1 versus the Dolphins looking to come out with a great game, just to fill in for Josh,” Benjamin said. … “I feel like with my speed and my talent, either in special teams or whenever I get on the field, I can make a difference.”

Some believe Benjamin’s slight build could lead to issues with ball security and durability, though he isn’t buying into the skepticism.

“Size doesn’t matter,” Benjamin said. … “I made it to the NFL. … I’ve been criticized about my size all my life, but I’m still here.”

And if Benjamin continues to grow as a receiver and use his speed to crush opponents, he’ll have a bright future at the sport’s highest level.

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VIDEO: Travis Benjamin sprinting to starring roles on punt returns and offense

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BEREA, Ohio -- Now you see him, now you don't.

Blink, sneeze or look down at your phone and you just might miss Browns receiver Travis Benjamin blazing up the field untouched into the end zone, like he did Thursday night against the Rams on his 91-yard punt return.

"I'm still young in my coaching career, but I've never coached a guy that can run like Travis,'' said receivers coach Scott Turner, Norv's son. "I don't think I can really compare him to anyone.''

They didn't call Benjamin 'The Belle Glade Blur' back at his Florida high school for nothing. He rocked the 40-yard dash in 4.36 at the NFL Combine and has run it in 4.26. Even in the NFL, no one can catch him from behind.

"He’s got stupid speed,'' said Brandon Weeden after the Rams game. "It’s nice throwing to him when we get him on a (go route) down the sideline, but you’ve got to let it rip ‘cause he can run. He’s a big-play threat, so you love it. That’s a spark. He's a guy that's able to break one at anytime.''

Benjamin, the Browns' fourth-round pick out of Miami in 2012, did just that again Sunday in practice when he turned on the jets, sped past Trevin Wade and hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Weeden.

"I think if I get the edge on you, it's me all the way,'' said Benjamin.

He ranks himself one of the top five fastest players in the league, along with the Eagles' DeSean Jackson and the Titans' Chris Johnson. After that, he ran out of names.

Question is, can Benjamin's diminutive frame (5-10, 175) withstand the rigors of the NFL, especially if he's returning punts and also seeing increased action on offense? A couple of minutes in his presence and you'd swear he could be suiting up next Friday night for the Belle Glade Raiders again.

"I don't worry about him,'' said Turner. "He's done a great job over the course of his career both in college and last year in the NFL just knowing how to protect himself. He's a smart player, he has good spatial awareness, so he's able to get down when he needs to get down. You don't see alot of guys get a real solid shot on him. Obviously he's skinny but he knows how to play in his body.''

Besides, he's like Plastic Man, extending his limbs to snare the ball and twisting his body to avoid the big hit.

"If you look at the way his body's put together, he's got really long arms and really long legs and he can really stretch them, so he actually plays a lot bigger than he is,'' said Turner. "His catching radius is bigger than most guys of his height and he's able to stretch the field with his speed and stride length.''

While watching film of Benjamin's punt return, Turner was struck by how much ground Benjamin covered with every step.

"He and Josh (Gordon) have the longest stride length of the receivers, although Josh's is a little longer,'' he said.

And you won't find Turner following behind Benjamin in the cafeteria, urging him to plop another serving of fettucine Alfredo on his plate.

"Yeah, you'd like him to gain weight, but you definitely don't want him to lose any speed,'' said Turner. "That's what makes him the good player that he is. I leave that up to (strength and conditioning coach) Brad Rolle.''

Turner was excited about the raw Benjamin he saw on film last season and couldn't wait to start coaching him up.

"He's really exceeded my expectations and it's based moreso on what type of person he is as a worker and as a professional,'' said Turner. "He's a smart guy and he focuses in meetings and takes notes and then on the field he really works on the techniques that I'm coaching or my dad's coaching and he's shown improvement throuhgout the Spring. Coming back here in camp, he gets better every day and it's due to the way he approaches it and the way he takes coaching.''

Coach Rob Chudzinski has been impressed with Benjamin's improved route running.

"He's gotten a lot better,'' said Chudzinski. "He’s using his speed better in his routes. As opposed to last year, where he was just a guy that ran deep, this year he's shown ability to run the shorter routes as well and get in and out of breaks really well.”

The Browns need Benjamin to keep progressing by leaps and bounds, because he'll be relied on heavily in the first two games when Gordon is out on suspension for his failed codeine test. Benjamin will most likely start on the outside opposite Greg Little in those first two contests against Miami and Baltimore.
"Travis is going to have a role in this offense, I believe, throughout the whole season,'' said Turner. "But we're going to have a guy down the first two games, so everybody's going to have to step up, and part of that's going to be on Travis for sure.''

Chudzinski and Turner don't expect the dual role of punt returner and receiver to be a problem.

"A guy like Travis, he can play at a high level for a long period of time,'' said Turner. "He's got really good stamina and he can run.''

Perhaps the highest compliment Benjamin received Thursday night after the punt return was the shoutout from his predecessor, Josh Cribbs, on twitter.

"He was a great mentor while he was here in Cleveland,'' said Benjamin. "By watching him and learning the things he did, it's coming along into my game. Even if both of us were back there [returning], he'd tell me what to watch for (like) how to read the punter's foot.''

But there's one thing Cribbs couldn't teach him: how to run like the wind.

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The Browns are expected to start Travis Benjamin at X receiver

The Browns are expected to start Travis Benjamin at X receiver during Josh Gordon's two-game suspension.

Greg Little is the Z receiver, and Davone Bess plays in the slot. Benjamin has sub-4.4 jets and big-play ability, averaging 16.6 yards on 18 receptions as a rookie. He's still unlikely to be a fantasy-viable early-season producer. We wouldn't be surprised if TE Jordan Cameron emerged as Cleveland's leading pass catcher in the first two games, building momentum for a breakout year.

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Travis Benjamin, Bess add speed to receiver corps

Over the next few weeks, will take a look at the 2013 Browns, position-by-position. Today’s spotlight is on the wide receivers.

When the Cleveland Browns looked to add speed to their wide-receiver corps in 2012, they selected Travis Benjamin on the third day of the 2012 NFL Draft and Josh Gordon -- three months later -- in the Supplemental Draft.

This year, they made a draft-weekend trade with the Miami Dolphins that brought five-year veteran Davone Bess to the Browns.

“They’re playing fast,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said of the receivers after minicamp. “The guys outside, tight ends, backs, everybody is really, really playing fast. They’re running routes full-speed and it’s tough. It’s tough on those safeties and corners who are trying to cover them. When you’re playing fast and you know where they’re going and they don’t, it’s to our advantage. I’m pleased with their play.”

Last fall, Benjamin caught 18 passes for 298 yards with two touchdowns, while Gordon finished third on the team with 50 receptions. He also led the team with 805 yards receiving and five touchdowns.

Gordon and Benjamin displayed that speed last season, as each player was on the receiving end of two of the longest touchdowns ever thrown by a Browns rookie quarterback. Weeden completed a 71-yard touchdown pass to Gordon at the New York Giants on Oct. 7, and added the 69-yard score to Benjamin on Dec. 16 against the Washington Redskins.

Key Number:
Two, the amount of times Greg Little has led the Browns in receptions since joining the team in the 2011 NFL Draft.

In 2012, Little led the Browns with 53 receptions, which he turned into 647 yards and four touchdowns.

While his receptions and yards slightly declined last season, Little increased his average yards per reception to 12.2 after it stood at 11.6 during his rookie season. Little also doubled his touchdowns total from his first year in the NFL.

Player to Watch:
The 5-foot-10, 193-pound Bess brings to Cleveland five years of experience and is coming off of a solid 2012 season in which he caught 61 passes for 778 yards, for a career-best average of 12.8 yards per reception, one touchdown and 38 first downs.

The Oakland, Calif., native whom the Dolphins signed as a rookie free agent after the 2008 NFL Draft, has been on the receiving end of 321 passes, and has turned those receptions into 3,447 yards, 12 touchdowns and 183 first downs.

Bess’ most productive season came in 2010, when he caught 79 passes for 820 yards and five touchdowns.

“He brings consistency,” Weeden said. “He doesn’t make many mistakes. If he’s reading routes or he’s doing certain things, he doesn’t make too many mistakes. He’s a very solid player. He’s a pro. The guy knows how to prepare. He is the ultimate pro, and I think that’s starting to rub off on everyone in the locker room, not just the receivers. He goes about his business the right way, and I commend him for it.”

Benjamin added, “It’s great learning. From coming in early, watching things he does, watching film, how he takes notes, he makes sure if you’re in the huddle with him or he’s in the game plan, he’ll look at you like, ‘You’ve got this route, right here.’ He’s just always (good) with communication.”

Travis Benjamin & Deonte Thompson Football Camp: Sean Spence

Travis Benjamin & Deonte Thompson Football Camp: Sean Spence from Generation Nexxt Youth Sports Nt on Vimeo.

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Travis Benjamin aims to 'be better than last year'

Travis Benjamin is looking to improve upon a rookie season in which he caught 18 passes and returned one punt for a touchdown.

Travis Benjamin’s rookie highlight with the Cleveland Browns last season was a franchise-record, 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9.

Now, the wide receiver/returner has his sights set on higher goals.

After 10 weeks of offseason workouts, Benjamin is focused on being “better than last year.”

“(I want) to be more productive, to be involved in the offense and special teams and to come out and have a great season,” Benjamin told “I worked on my route-running and continuing to run full speed.

“I want to be healthy coming into training camp, getting training camp over, start the season and look forward to a great season for the Cleveland Browns.”

Benjamin, who caught 18 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns (including a 69-yard score in a loss to the Washington Redskins Dec. 16), said he likes everything about the Browns’ offense under new coordinator Norv Turner and wide receivers coach Scott Turner.

“From the runs to the passes to the play-action to the gimmicks and gadgets they’ve got, everything is just well played out,” Benjamin said. “I really see myself doing big things in the offense.

“It’s a great tandem. Those guys are some great guys, and (Scott’s) father is so (much) like a legend, and he has his son. I’m pretty sure he grew up watching his father, so it kind of soaked into him like a sponge. They’re doing a great job.”

Like Benjamin for the Turners, quarterback Brandon Weeden had similar praise for the 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver.

“Travis had at least as many catches, if not more, than anybody in camp,” Weeden said. “His route-running is phenomenal, and probably because he’s so fast. Guys have to honor him running behind them, so he’s able to get in and out of breaks so well. In-breaking routes or out-breaking routes, he’s really found a knack of getting separated and gives me a chance to complete some balls. He’s had a lot of catches this camp, and he stuck out.”

Within the offense is not the only place Benjamin is looking to stand out in 2013.

Following the departure of record-setting kick and punt returner Joshua Cribbs in free agency, Benjamin could see an increased role on special teams. He returned three kicks for 76 yards and three punts for 149 yards, including the 93-yard touchdown, last fall.

“When guys leave, certain guys have to stand up,” Benjamin said. “I’m the starting punt returner right now, so I’ve just got to get that punt return and everybody else on the same page.

“It’s a great position. It puts me in a position where I can show my skills because, on punt return, it’s all about speed and quickness. You see a hole, you see where you’ve got to go, you just hit it and it will be a big thing. Usually, if you make three or four guys miss, you usually get a touchdown.”

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Travis Benjamin Showing Great Improvement

BEREA – Davone Bess and Travis Benjamin – the “undersized” receivers – went the six offseason practices open to the media without a dropped pass of note.

Speed has never been an issue for Benjamin (5-10, 175), but he improved his route-running and catching since his rookie season. Weeden said Benjamin may have led the team in receptions in the 16 offseason practices, and he finished with two long completions from Weeden on Thursday.

“His route-running is phenomenal, probably because he’s so fast,” Weeden said. “Guys have to honor him running by them. He’s been getting in and out of breaks so well.

“Whether it’s in-breaking routes or out-breaking routes, he’s really found a knack of getting separation and giving me a chance to complete some balls. He’s had a lot of catches this camp. He’s stuck out.”

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Travis Benjamin displaying sure hands

Cleveland Browns WR Travis Benjamin has impressed the coaching staff with his sure hands this offseason. He averaged 16.6 yards per reception in 2012, and his speed has offensive coordinator Norv Turner trying to figure out how to take advantage of Benjamin's speed.

Fantasy Tip: Benjamin should be left for your waiver wire in fantasy football drafts, unless he drastically moves up the depth chart.

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Browns Confident in Travis Benjamin

The Cleveland Browns feel confident WR Travis Benjamin and RB Dion Lewis can handle the return duties, which is why fan favorite WR Joshua Cribbs (Raiders) (knee) was allowed to leave via free agency without much effort to re-sign him. Plus, Cribbs is 30, and there are concerns about his knee.

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PHOTO: Travis Benjamin at Browns Camp


Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin catches a pass during an off-season workout at the NFL football team's practice facility in Berea, Ohio Thursday, May 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

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Browns high on Travis Benjamin for punt returns

The new Browns regime believes second-year WR Travis Benjamin is capable of becoming an "outstanding" punt returner.

This probably explains Cleveland's complete unwillingness to try to re-sign Josh Cribbs. Benjamin, the 100th pick in last year's draft, possesses 4.36 wheels and broke off a 93-yard punt return touchdown as a rookie despite seeing only three punt return chances all season. In addition to situational deep threat duties on offense, Benjamin will replace Cribbs as the Browns' return specialist.

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proCanes Support Men's Basketball Team vs GT


Thank you to Harry Rothwell @mrallcanes for sending us this photo of proCanes: Lamar Miller Dolphins, DeMarcus Van Dyke Steelers, Allen Bailey Chiefs, Sean Spence Steelers, Travis Benjamin Browns, Brandon Harris Texans.

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Travis Benjamin expected to return punts

Cleveland Browns WR Travis Benjamin is expected to serve as the team's punt return man in 2013.

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