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Kelvin Benjamin "pumped" for regular season return


CHARLOTTE – Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin answered a variation of the same question several times on Sunday: "If you could have played in Super Bowl 50, would it have ended differently?"

"I try not to dwell on that," Benjamin said after a deep sigh. "I can't do anything to change it. I'm just focused on this next game."

This next game is a big one for Benjamin and his teammates. But it is not the Super Bowl.

It's the 2016 season opener, and it just so happens to be a Super Bowl rematch against the Denver Broncos.

For Benjamin, who missed all of 2015 with a torn ACL, it will be his first regular season game since his rookie year in 2014.

With such a highly-anticipated return occurring on such a big stage, is the 6-foot-5, 245-pound wideout battling butterflies?

"Not at all," Benjamin said. "I mean, I'm pumped. I'm juiced. I'm ready. I'm ready to get on the field."

Head coach Ron Rivera is just as eager to see No. 13 running routes for quarterback Cam Newton and an offense that paced the NFL in scoring last season.

"One of the really neat things about (this game) is we have Kelvin coming back," Rivera said. "It's going to be interesting to see how that plays for us, fitting him into the offense again with the things that we hope to do with him.

"That'll be fun. We have a chance to be pretty good. But we'll see."

A weapon of Benjamin's caliber is much-needed against a stingy Denver secondary widely regarded as one of the league's best.

"They are a tough defense. They play a lot of man coverage. The receivers are going to have to work real hard this week to get off this man-press," Benjamin said.

"I feel comfortable. We just have to keep preparing and get ready."

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