Benjamin already feeling at home in Buffalo

Posted Nov 6, 2017

Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin has been more taken by how good the fit feels in Buffalo than the actual trade that shipped him out of Charlotte last week.

Learning that he was traded didn’t come as a surprise to Kelvin Benjamin. Despite being the number one receiver in Carolina’s offense, learning last week that he had been dealt to Buffalo was far from a shock. What has been surprising for him is how quickly he’s been accepted in the Bills locker room and how much Buffalo feels like home.

“I wasn’t that surprised,” said Benjamin of the trade to the Bills. “I kind of felt the offense was going in another direction, but this is a great opportunity for me. I’m excited coming to a new city and a new team. When I got here they had open arms. I’ve loving it. I’m excited and having fun.”

Benjamin already had an advance scout in Buffalo in former teammate Joe Webb, who came to like Buffalo rather quickly both in terms of the team and the city.

“Once I came over I talked about the Bills (to Benjamin),” said Webb, who was signed by Buffalo the Monday before the season opener. “I told him that I love it here and if he was here he’d love it too. And look what happened. He got here and I took him through the city and he loved Buffalo. So he got settled in pretty good.”

“As soon as I got traded I called Joe Webb up and he was telling me, ‘Man, you’re going to love it, the people, the fans. It’s a college-based atmosphere,’” said Benjamin. “You watch the games. It didn’t matter how cold it was or what their record was in the past, that place was packed. That tells you something about the history and the passion. That’s what I am about.”

Having a host of familiar faces like Webb, Mike Tolbert, Leonard Johnson and a general manager and head coach with whom he’s worked previously, Benjamin feels supported with the Bills.

“It definitely helps,” he said. “Seeing familiar faces and seeing them guys, they welcomed me with open arms. They keep telling me to be myself. Don’t try to put on too much of a show. Just come play ball and have fun. Come be part of the team and be a part of the family.”

Benjamin was so excited about the trade that he didn’t even bother to stop in Carolina GM Marty Hurney’s office to find out why he was seen as expendable by the Panthers.

“I hopped right on the plane. I was so excited to get here. It was kind of just wanting to leave it and move on,” said Benjamin. “When it first hit me I was like, ‘Ahh,’ because it’s all new you know. I got drafted there, but after a couple of days and being here and just feeling so welcome, it’s second nature. It feels like home to me already.”

The giant receiving target spent the weekend with receivers coach Phil McGeoghan and offensive assistant Chad Hall, a former receiver, to get a handle on the playbook, even though head coach Sean McDermott gave him the option to return to Charlotte to gather up his belongings.

“He moved up here in a very short amount of time,” said McDermott. “I offered him a chance to go home and get some clothes and get organized and he said, ‘No, coach, I want to stay and get this offense down as best I can in a short amount of time here.’ That showed me he’s committed to the cause.”

“A great work ethic guy,” said Webb. “He’s going to come in and put in the time and the effort to help the team. Of course you know he’s an explosive guy. He can make plays down the field. So I’m excited to see him here.”

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison naturally wants to incorporate Benjamin into the offense as quickly as possible, but knows they can’t just throw the receiver into the deep end right away.

“We just started. He’ll be on the field,” Dennison said. “He’ll get a chance to make some catches and make some plays for us.”

“It’s all patterns,” Benjamin said. “You’ve only got to learn the concepts. You’ve been learning those concepts your whole life, so it kind of comes second nature to you.”

Expected to assume the number one receiver role outside, some might wonder if Benjamin is feeling a lot of pressure to be a game changer for Buffalo’s offense, one that currently ranks 30th in passing. The receiver made it clear he’s not.

“They’ve been winning without me,” he said. “I’m just coming in and adding an extra target for Tyrod. They’ve got plays all across the board for D.T., Jordan and McCoy. You can go on and on. I’m just coming to help and that’s all I want to do, come help them win games.”

Benjamin is under contract through the 2018 season, but his first impressions of the Bills already has him feeling he could be a part of Buffalo’s offense for a long time.

“I want to be a part of this team for a very long time so I’m eager to get on the field,” he said. “But I’ve got to come earn the respect first. I’ve got to make plays, gain the respect of the players. Then it goes from there, gain the respect of upstairs. I’ve got to come in and be a pro. Be a pro.”