Kelvin Benjamin is definitely helping Carolina Panther fans miss Steve Smith just a little less.
Pro Football Talk is reporting Benjamin has been named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the month for September. Benjamin had 21 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns, with at least 75 yards in each of three games.
Benjamin is the first Panther to win the award since his quarterback, Panthers’ Cam Newton, won the same award back in 2001. The two seems to have formed a quick bond. Benjamin still has work to do on pass route-running, but has shown big-play capability.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Benjamin found out he won the award during the pre-practice huddle. Head coach Ron Rivera announced Benjamin had won the award, his teammates applauded, then it was back to practice.
Benjamin tries to keep things in perspective. “I have a lot of things I can keep working on,” Benjamin said. “I haven’t even scratched the surface of my game yet.”
If that’s true, it’s a scary thought. Benjamin leads all NFL rookies with 329 receiving yards, and he’s second among all rookies in receptions with 21.
Benjamin, the team’s No. 1 receiver, leads the Panthers in nearly every significant receiving category. He’s first on the team in catches, yards, receiving touchdowns, yards per catch and yards per game.
Benjamin ranks ninth among all NFL receivers in yards and he’s tied for 10th in the league with three touchdowns.
Rivera admitted Benjamin is further along than he expected.
“You never really expect a rookie to start right off the bat, although we’ve done that here,” said Rivera, alluding to former first-round picks Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Star Lotulelei. “When he got here and just started going the way he did at training camp, it was not too big for him. And it was evident he was going to start.”
“The kid’s doing a great job. He’s by no means where we want him to be but he’s outdone the expectations.”
Benjamin said he needs to work on cleaning up his route-running, but he’s pleased with his play so far this season.
He joins Newton and former quarterback Matt Moore as the only Panthers to win the league’s offensive rookie of the month award.
Carolina selected Benjamin with the No. 28 pick, out of Florida State. Twelve offensive players were picked ahead of Benjamin, including four receivers.
This award shows he’s ahead of them all a quarter of the way through the season.
“That’s not for me to say,” Benjamin said. “That’s for the fans to say. I just have to keep going out there and having fun.”
[Image courtesy of USA Today Sports via Bleacher Report]