Travis Benjamin flashed some big-play ability as a rookie for the Cleveland Browns in 2012, with a 93-yard punt return touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14 and a 69-yard receiving touchdown the following week against the Washington Redskins. But his overall impact was minimal, with 18 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns, 66 rushing yards and 225 combined return yards in 14 games played (three starts).
The Browns have chosen not to bring Josh Cribbs back for 2013, so Benjamin is in line to take over as the team’s primary return man in his second season. He could also take a prominent role in Cleveland’s offense early in the season with Josh Gordon suspended for the first two games, and his vertical speed looks like a good fit for new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system.
Benjamin’s expected role as a kickoff and punt returner assures him a spot on the Browns’ 53-man roster, but he could secure a prominent role as a pass catcher with a strong showing during training camp. Cleveland does not have a ton of talent at wide receiver, with Greg Little, Davone Bess and Gordon the only players guaranteed a roster spot right now, so the new coaching staff led by head coach Rob Chudzinski has little reason not to give Benjamin significant playing time during preseason games.
Benjamin needs to make the most of what should be increased chances during training camp and the preseason, but the opportunity to earn a significant role seems to be there for him. I don’t expect him to become a star this season, but Benjamin should make nice progress all-around simply by seeing the field more.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.