Benjamin Looks Ahead, Keeps 2015 Training Camp injury in past

SPARTANBURG, SC (WCCB Charlotte) — Kelvin Benjamin needed a pep talk.

The Panthers wide receiver had torn his ACL in training camp last season. His team, at the time, had worked through the preseason and was off to a hot September start yet Benjamin was just not himself.

“I couldn’t even see football because I would get down,” Benjamin admitted.

And then general manager Dave Gettleman got in his ear.

“It’s time to wipe the tears off and get to work,” Benjamin remembers of the conversation with the team’s general manager. “By him telling me that, (I) just forgot about it and moved on.”

The same old bright and positive Benjamin emerged. He turned into a cheerleader the rest of the way as the Panthers made a run at Super Bowl 50.

Now that a new season is upon Benjamin and the Panthers, the addition of the third-year wide-out peaks optimism that the 2016 unit could even be better than last year’s top scoring offense.

“It felt great to get back out there with the team,” Benjamin said. “Move around, catch balls with Cam. I was like a kid in a candy store.”

Benjamin’s enjoyed the cheers from the more than 22-thousand fans in attendance at Carolina’s opening practice on Thursday night at Gibbs Stadium. It was good to wipe away the ‘butterflies’ but also another thing to keep Kelvin’s mind off his ACL. Benjamin believes the less he thinks about his injury from last year, the less likely something bad could re-occur.

Case and point — Kelvin Benjamin did not even think about wearing a knee brace this season despite the doctor’s recommendation.

“You can’t think about it–you just have to trust in the rehab,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin also added muscle weight to the bottom half of his body, specifically the thighs and glutes, to help support his rehabbed knee.

The last time Panthers fans saw Benjamin in action was his 2014 rookie season where he reeled in 73 balls for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. What haunts Benjamin from that season is the amount of missed opportunities both on and off the field.

“It was so much,” Benjamin said. “I ate bad that year. I didn’t take care of my body as well. I had a lot of dropped passes. There’s so much (more) I could do.”

It’s yet another reason to be optimistic about Kelvin Benjamin’s 2016.