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Carolina Panthers

Benwikere Looking to Capitalize


CHARLOTTE – The New Orleans Saints coming to town brings back a good memory for second-year cornerback Bene Benwikere.

Last season, Benwikere recorded his first career interception in Week 14 when the Panthers claimed a 41-10 victory over the Saints in the Superdome.

Quarterback Drew Brees launched a deep pass down the middle to wide receiver Joseph Morgan, but the rookie cornerback made a spectacular play on the ball to snatch it away.

"That's always going to be a special memory for me," Benwikere said. "First career interception against Drew Brees. It was an awesome feeling.

"We knew what they liked to do, and they ran a route that we expected. The coaches coached it up that way, and it was time for me to make a play."

Benwikere knows it's time to make another one of those plays.

"Honestly, I'm always craving to get one," he said.

The former fifth-round pick from San Jose State has a knack for making plays on the ball, and his instincts have produced numerous highlight-reel interceptions in practice.

But that pick in New Orleans remains the lone interception of his young career.

So far in 2015, Benwikere has had chances, but he hasn't been able to come down with the ball. In Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he felt he could have picked off quarterback Blake Bortles but instead finished with two pass breakups.

In Week 2 against the Houston Texans, Benwikere had a golden opportunity to pick off Ryan Mallett's pass to wide receiver Cecil Shorts late in the first half, but he failed to hang on.

"The last two weeks I had opportunities, and the Houston one was much easier. I have to capitalize," Benwikere said. "I know I should be patient and I'm getting better at understanding that opportunities will come. I can't go out of my responsibilities to try to make those plays. In that sense, I'm being patient.

"But when the ball does come my way, I need to make a play on it."

Three different Panthers – linebackers Thomas Davis and A.J. Klein and cornerback Josh Norman – have recorded interceptions this season. Benwikere is eager to add his name to the list.

"The secondary is playing great, and they are going to have to throw the ball," Benwikere said. "Hopefully, I can get one."

View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Saints.

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