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Panthers need Kelvin Benjamin more involved

Posted Sep 26, 2016

Offensive coordinator Mike Shula discusses the need to get wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin the ball after he was held without a catch against Minnesota.

CHARLOTTE – One of the major topics of discussion after Carolina’s 22-10 loss to Minnesota was wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin’s involvement, or lack thereof.

Benjamin didn’t record a catch, and he was targeted just once. Afterwards, quarterback Cam Newton called that “baffling.”

It was the first time in Benjamin’s career he didn’t record a catch in a game, and he had never had fewer than five targets previously.

“Yeah, we’ve got to find a way to get him the ball more. That starts with me,” offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “But we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it in a way that we’re not just trying to force him the ball.”

Shula said there were a “variety” of reasons why Benjamin was ultimately shutout. Head coach Ron Rivera also addressed the topic at his Monday press conference.

“We had a couple opportunities with Kelvin to make some plays and we didn’t do it,” Rivera said. “The quarterback read out of it and went to his next option a couple times. One thing they did do with Kelvin is they did get up to him on the line of scrimmage. He didn’t have a lot of clean releases, and you could see that the safety was favoring to that side. That’s probably why Cam made the reads he did.”

But Shula made it clear that the Panthers can find ways to get Benjamin involved even if he’s facing double coverage.

“That’s our job – to continue to get our playmakers opportunities,” Shula said. “They rolled to him at times but they also had some one-on-ones. But just because teams roll to a receiver doesn’t mean you still can’t get it to him. We just weren’t good enough yesterday.”

Of course Benjamin was disappointed with the lack of opportunities Sunday, and Shula said that’s “totally understandable.” But Benjamin is driven by wins, not by individual statistics.

“Everybody is competitive. Everybody wants to do their part in helping us succeed,” Shula said. “If it were me I’d probably be unhappy, too. But we’ve got great character on this team and guys that want to do whatever it takes to win, and he’s one of those guys.”