Travis Benjamin was one of the NFL's most surprising stories after his performance in Cleveland's first two games.
It's less of a surprise now to see the fourth-year wide receiver produce with consistency in a Browns passing game that has been the offense's top strength.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Benjamin after Friday's practice. The conversation follows:
CB.com: What's the mentality of the offense been like after such a close loss?
Benjamin: Our mindset and focus has just been boosted up a notch knowing that we're coming off the loss. We don't want to lose anymore. We're going into St. Louis with the game plan down pat. Everything feels comfortable for us and we're just wanting to go in and get the win.
CB.com: Statistically, it was one of your best games of the year. How'd you get open so many times against a top secondary?
Benjamin: I would say my mindset, my focus, the opportunities I get. I make sure I catch every ball every time the ball comes my way. I want to catch the ball and move the sticks and move downfield to give the offense the opportunity to put points on the board.
CB.com: Six games into the season, you continue to put up numbers. Has this been a surprise to you personally?
Benjamin: My mindset when I came in to my last year of my contract was to put my best foot forward. I wanted it to be a season to remember knowing that I gave the organization everything I had for my final year here to finish on top.
CB.com: What's it felt like to accomplish that sort of goal?
Benjamin: It feels great knowing that everybody around here is proud of me, from coaches to the players to the community on the outside looking in. I'm just really trying to keep that mindset to keep driving and keep making plays.
CB.com: What'd you do in the offseason to prepare yourself for this kind of performance?
Benjamin: I worked at it. From five, six, seven days a week, I made sure each and every one I got up and told myself I have to be better than what I started with. I put that in my mindset and worked, worked, worked all summer long.
CB.com: What in specific?
Benjamin: Route-running. I did a whole bunch of route-running. I made sure I came in a little heavier this year than last year and made sure I had my speed in tact. It's a long season and I can keep that going.
CB.com: How does the added weight help?
Benjamin: The added weight is just for longevity. It's a long season each week and you kind of feel yourself dropping pounds and dropping pounds. Just make sure I have a certain amount of weight on me to keep going.
CB.com: How much has being two seasons removed from knee surgery helped?
Benjamin: It helps me a lot. There's no more glitches with the knee trying to protect myself from hitting it. I'm just all out, full speed and just playing ball now.
CB.com: When did you clear that mental hurdle?
Benjamin: I'd say toward the end of last season. I kind of got my feet back under me with the punt returns and I caught a couple of balls here and there. It's just all about getting that confidence back.
CB.com: You've always been known as a dangerous returner. How much did it drive you to be respected as a wide receiver?
Benjamin: I just didn't want to be a guy where people are like, 'OK, he's a return man. Let's not kick it to him.' I can use it on returns and I can use it on offense, so when I get the ball on offense I still have that big-play ability to get in the end zone.
CB.com: You've worked with a lot of quarterbacks. What's made your relationship with Josh McCown so strong?
Benjamin: I could say out of the quarterbacks I've had, he's way smarter, way more productive. He just knows where to throw the ball even if I'm not open. He'll throw you open. That's the kind of asset he's got.
CB.com: Did the deep ball last week, where it was a free play because Denver was offsides, illustrate that?
Benjamin: Absolutely. Knowing that every time we get a free play, we want to take advantage of it. If they jump offsides, I just run, and I ran and he put it up and I was able to make the catch.
CB.com: How has your ability downfield helped the other receivers?
Benjamin: It's great knowing that sometimes double coverage comes when the safety rolls over the top on my side. That leaves openings for Gary (Barnidge), Brian Hartline, (Andrew) Hawkins, all of them inside with the coverage they have on the outside.
CB.com: What kind of challenges does the Rams secondary present?
Benjamin: I would say it's a challenge each and every week for the receivers no matter what because everybody's in the NFL. They've got guys they paid, we've got guys we paid. Just go in and make plays and be productive.
CB.com: Are you surprised at all by the passing game's overall production?
Benjamin: Not at all. Coming from when we first got here, we knew our receiver group was explosive on the field. There are times when we have each and every guy that can rotate and get in and catch the ball.
CB.com: Did the criticism about the wide receiver group motivate you?
Benjamin: Absolutely. We know that on the outside looking in, nobody believes in the Browns receivers because they're no-names. Just coming into the season, we just looked forward and just keep going and put our best foot forward.