Once again due to it being game day I'll keep today's advent calendar short and cheerful so we can all look forward to playing the Falcons. Today is the 13th of December so lets talk about:
#13 Kelvin Benjamin
Our first round draft pick from just over a year ago turned out to be a pretty good one. He hauled in a touchdown on his debut, and racked up his first 100 yard game in just his third. He caught three 25+ yard touchdowns in his first four games as a Panther. He was only the first rookie in years to accomplish this feat after Randy Moss did it in 1998. He won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for September and proved he was worthy of the accolade in the very next game. He racked up 94 yards against the Seattle Seahawks, the biggest yardage Richard Sherman had given up to anyone in over two years. He finished the season with 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns from 73 receptions.
As impressive as all those figures are, what impresses me most is the circumstance in which he achieved this. Remember during that off-season the Panthers had lost or released Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr, and Domenik Hixon - in short, virtually the entire wide receiver corps. They were replaced by average veterans receivers like Jerrricho Cotchery and Jason Avant. Imagine the pressure Benjamin must have been feeling knowing that if he was a bust it was going to look very, very bad on him. The youngster seemed to take this all in his stride though. Yes there were a few drops along the way, but as a team who had seen LaFeel and Ginn the year before this was nothing new. His sheer size and strength made him an excellent red zone target, and his huge catch radius helped Cam out too.
It was an enormous shame to see him go down before his sophomore season had gotten under way. The season promised so much and it was stolen away from him. It has, however, been great to see him on the sidelines smiling and cheering on his buddies. He has also been having a few words in the ear of the next rookie WR Devin Funchess.
Benjamin is off his crutches now and is hoping to be running by January which is nothing but positive. Regardless of how this season ends, if he gets back healthy for the start of next season just imagine that. Funchess has come into his own in recent weeks, throw Benjamin into the mix and we could be unstoppable in the red zone. Two huge weapons, an incredible running game, and Cam who, if nothing opens up, will just plow through you as well. Good luck stopping that.
Four times NFC South champions anyone?
By Dan Rawlinson