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Carolina Panthers

Kelvin Benjamin making plays after catch


CHARLOTTE – Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin isn't known for his run-after-the-catch ability in the traditional sense, but his physicality is leading to big chunks for the Carolina offense.

He may not specialize in making defenders miss, but Benjamin's combination of size and speed makes him very difficult to bring down.

"He's playing his tail off. He's played hard," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said of the 6-foot-5, 245-pound wideout.

The last two games provide examples.

In the second quarter of Sunday's victory over the Rams, Benjamin caught a rocket from quarterback Cam Newton over the middle and refused to go down. Cornerback E.J. Gaines was holding on as Benjamin bounced off a lunging hit from linebacker Mark Barron. Benjamin then spun off safety Maurice Alexander and churned out another five yards before three Rams finally got him on the ground after a 24-yard gain.

"He's a physical player, and you're starting to see a little more of that run-after-the-catch because of how big he is," Shula said. "He's bigger than any DB out there."

A week earlier, the Cardinals had similar trouble dealing with Benjamin once he got the ball in his hands.

Benjamin caught a pass from Newton over the middle and showed off some explosiveness as he broke out toward the sideline and ran away from cornerback Patrick Peterson. Safety Tyrann Mathieu caught up with him, but Benjamin dragged him 15 yards before finally falling to the turf after a 50-yard gain.

"I see him getting better each week, and we're going to need that combination with him and obviously his threat," Shula said. "We want to try to get our playmakers the ball. It just unfolds a little bit differently depending on how defenses are playing us.

"That's one of the many challenges that you have as a coach. You understand that defenses are going to try to take away your playmakers, so you have to be creative, knowing that, on how to find ways to get them good looks or one-on-one matchups."

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