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Benjamin: "I have to put the work in"

Posted May 9, 2014

CHARLOTTE – From the moment he stepped off the plane and into Charlotte, the whirlwind began for Panthers' first-round draft choice Kelvin Benjamin.

First, it was a reunion with head coach Ron Rivera and wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl. Then, a chat with general manager Dave Gettleman before a meeting with team owner/founder Jerry Richardson.

In the midst of all the activity, it just so happens he missed a chance to talk to his new quarterback.

"I missed the phone call," Benjamin said at his introductory press conference. "The phone was on the charger."

From now on, Benjamin will be working to make sure he and quarterback Cam Newton are in sync.

Gettleman said he believes the 6-5, 241-pound Benjamin has what it takes to become a No.1 wide receiver in the NFL. But there is a lot to learn before he reaches that point.

"In due time," Benjamin said. "I just have to put the work in. That's what I plan on doing."

Benjamin put the work in at Florida State to transform into a prized NFL prospect. But it took time and self-reflection.

As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Benjamin recorded 30 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns. Good numbers. Not great.

The soft-spoken Benjamin didn't see it that way.

"I was very disappointed. I was embarrassed," Benjamin said. "I was just so determined to change that."

The production changed drastically in 2013. Benjamin produced 54 catches for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"I really just had to grow up and understand what I wanted to be in life," Benjamin said. "I needed to grow up as a person."

Now he's a pro.

"I couldn't ask for more," he said.

After the press conference, Benjamin was on his way to dinner with a few new teammates.

He wouldn't mind stopping by the practice field as well.

"I was really hoping I could just start practicing with the guys today," Benjamin said with a smile. "I'm just so happy, so excited. I'm ready to get in here and start playing."