BEREA, Ohio -- Last season’s 30-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at then-Cleveland Browns Stadium on Dec. 9, served as a changing of the guard for the Browns’ special-teams unit.
With the Browns trailing the Chiefs, 7-3, at the start of the second quarter, rookie wide receiver
Now, Benjamin looks forward to carving his own niche on special teams.
“I’m very excited, knowing that I’ve got the punt-return job,” Benjamin said. “The kick-return job is still in the air. We’re just competing every day to fill in that role.
“This is the NFL. Guys come and guys go. Josh (Cribbs) was a great person and a great mentor to me. He taught me a lot of things. I can just go into this upcoming season and just fill in the shoes where he left off. I always taught myself to get better at things, learn from Josh, the things that he taught me, and I’m just ready to go back there and field punts.”
Benjamin returned only three punts in 2012, but all were big plays for the Browns. In addition to the touchdown, he returned a punt 40 yards at Baltimore on Sept. 27, and had a 16-yard run back in a 20-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 25. The 40-yarder against the Ravens led to a Browns field goal.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Benjamin also returned three kickoffs for a total of 76 yards as a rookie.
“We have great special teams,” Benjamin said. “Cleveland’s special teams have been great all these years, so I’ve got the ability to be one of the top returners.
“The ball is just a ball. It’s just like the quarterback throwing it to you. You just look it in and catch it. If you’re a great kicker, you can make the ball come off your foot a knuckleball, not spinning. It just depends, but you’ve got to look the ball in.”
Offensively, Benjamin caught 18 passes for 298 yards, a 16.6 yards-per-reception average, and two touchdowns. His second touchdown was a 69-yard score in the Browns’ regular-season home finale against the Washington Redskins.
Despite being one of the smallest guys on the Browns’ roster, Benjamin focuses on using his speed to his advantage in order to avoid collisions with defenders.
“It’s just being a ball player and knowing the things you can and cannot do, knowing that my speed will allow me not to get hit, and just maintaining focus on the football and knowing that environment around you,” Benjamin said. “I just want to get better every day. Knowing that the things we can do in this offense, it’s a great offense knowing that I can go in and get better every day.”