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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