McCown hooked up with Benjamin in the first preseason game on the first pass from scrimmage and then capped the first drive with a touchdown to Benjamin. After the game, McCown said he couldn’t believe how wide open Benjamin was.
Last year, Benjamin had a knack for getting open in the back of the end zone in a couple of games, including scoring two late touchdowns in the Browns come back win over the Titans. He was asked if the defensive backs just lose track of him or how he gets open in those situations.
“I’d say my quickness and my speed, once I get the ball in one direction, it’s full speed ahead. If you’re off balance as a DB, once I get into my break, I’m always going to be open.”
McCown agreed that Benjamin is using his speed to his advantage.
“Trav, he’s a pro,” McCown said. “He just comes out and works hard, doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s got a great skillset as far as his speed. What Trav is doing really well right now is – you get a guy with speed like that a lot of time, but when the lights come on, either they play timid or they don’t play at the high speed – Trav explodes off the ball every time we snap it, and because of that, he’s using his speed to his advantage.
“It’s causing space for him to get open, and that’s why he’s able to get balls,” he said. “He’s really doing a good job., Everybody’s working really hard, but he’s really helped us set a tone for how we’re going to come off the football and work, and it’s been cool to watch.”
Benjamin said that McCown is now looking for him in certain situations.
“He adjusts to (me getting open) now,” he said. “He knows that whenever I’m on the field and he sees the advantage, he’s going to me no matter what. We have that great connection with each other.”
In the combined practice with the Bills Monday morning, McCown lofted a deep ball down the sideline during 7-on-7 at Benjamin caught the ball for a touchdown, despite being interfered with on the play by the Bills cornerback. Moments earlier, McCown hit Benjamin on a crossing pattern for a 12-yard gain.
“It’s going great so far for me right now,” Benjamin said “Me and McCown are on the same page and we just want to come out here in Buffalo and compete.”
Later on in team offense against the Bills to end the practice, McCown hit Benjamin on quick slants on two occasions, including one for a first down.
Benjamin thinks the offense held it’s own against the Bills strong defense, even though Mike Pettine said he felt the Bills defense got the best of the Browns offense.
“We did pretty decent,” Benjamin said. “We can always get better. We had a couple mistakes form the lines standpoint, a couple drops from the receivers and misses from the line. We had a couple of mistakes and can always come out and get better every day.”
Benjamin said playing against another team in practice really simulates a game-like atmosphere.
“It’s ramped up like a game situation,” he said. “You’re always trying to win on the tape because there are 31 other teams out there watching you. We just come out here and compete and try to get better every day.”
Many felt that Benjamin might be on the hot seat for a roster spot at wide receiver with the additions of Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Terrelle Pryor and draft choice Vince Mayle, but Pettine said in post practice that Benjamin is the team’s punt returner, when he was asked about Justin Gilbert taking turns as a punt returner.
Benjamin is in the last year of his rookie contract with the Browns and said this is a big year for him.
“This is big for me,” he said. “Going into my final year of my contract with the Browns and just willing to go out and put everything on the line for the Browns and my team.”
Benjamin led the Browns last year in receiving touchdowns with three and had his best year receiving with 18 catches for 314 yards (17.4 avg.) in 16 games after coming off an ACL injury in 2013.
Benjamin said he hopes to stay with the Browns and right now that’s where his focus is.
“I’m playing for now, I don’t look into the future,” he said. “I’m playing for the Browns and if things work out I can be here a couple of more years, but right now I’m just playing for the Browns.”