Kelvin Benjamin sends a message to critics with strong preseason opener

Kelvin Benjamin looked like he was in pretty good shape on Wednesday night.

The offseason wasn’t kind to the Carolina Panthers receiver. He received a ton of scrutiny for his weight when he looked out of shape during OTA sessions. Benjamin wasn’t in fantastic shape, though coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin’s weight wasn’t as big of an issue as some made it out to be. 

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Benjamin put any questions to rest in the Panthers’ preseason opener. On Carolina’s first drive, he took a short pass and looked strong as he delivered a stiff-arm to the cornerback to gain extra yards. Then later in the first quarter he made a phenomenal, athletic 23-yard catch for the Panthers’ first touchdown of the preseason.


Benjamin wasn’t coming off a great 2016, but he was still productive in his first season back from ACL surgery. He’s a former first-round pick with 1,949 yards and 16 touchdowns in a run-heavy offense. At his best, Benjamin has looked the part of a true No. 1 receiver for Cam Newton. Wednesday’s touchdown came from Derek Anderson, as Newton continues to recover from shoulder surgery. Newton didn’t play in the preseason opener.

The Panthers had other highlights. Christian McCaffrey had some nice moments in his NFL debut. It was good to see linebacker Luke Kuechly, who dealt with a concussion for most of the second half of last season, back on the field. But the highlight of the night might have been Benjamin’s catch. He answered a lot of questions.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!