2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Browns' Benjamin an elusive return "Rabbit"

By TOM WITHERS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-10 15:24

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - As the heavy smoke wafted above the burning sugar cane fields, Browns punt returner Travis Benjamin waited in the sticky Florida marsh for the pursuit to begin.

As rabbits fled from the smoldering stalks, Benjamin chased the small critters, doing his best to mimic their every right and left turn until he got his hands on one. He once hauled in 20 in a single day.

``It's nothing to it once you know the tendencies of what a rabbit's going to do and when he'll come out,'' Benjamin said. ``It's just going out there and having fun.''

Rabbits aren't easy to nab. Neither is Benjamin.

Tagged with the nickname ``Rabbit'' the moment his Cleveland teammates learned of his exploits as a kid rounding up furry animals in Belle Glade, Fla., Benjamin has become one of the NFL's top returners. Last week, he ran back a punt 79 yards for a touchdown and racked up 179 yards returning in a 37-24 win over Buffalo.

On his second-quarter TD, he caught the ball near his 20 and sprinted across the field, easily eluding a few tacklers as he picked some blocks. Once he turned the corner and headed up the sideline, Benjamin busted through a half-hearted tackle by punter Shawn Powell, spun out of another would-be tackle and raced into the end zone.

The electrifying score sent a shockwave through FirstEnergy Stadium, giving the Browns a 17-10 lead. Earlier, he returned a punt 57 yards but was bumped out of bounds by Powell, a stop that caused Benjamin's teammates to give him major grief.

``Yeah, all of them came up to me,'' said Benjamin, drafted in the fourth round last season from Miami. ``We know that's one thing that cannot happen - letting the punter tackle you. Just like being a linebacker and letting a quarterback shake you. It's kind of a rule we've got: `Don't let that guy do that to you.'''

Benjamin has been doing plenty to annoy coverage units all season.

In fact, following his performance against Buffalo, the Bills released Powell.

Benjamin enters Sunday's game against Detroit ranked second in the league with an average of 15.1 yards per return. He's helped the Browns flip the field with three returns of over 30 yards. And although he's had a limited role on offense, he's made the most of his opportunities with five catches for 105 yards.

But it's when Benjamin is deep to return a punt that his speed puts the opposition on edge.

``It's amazing,'' Browns wide receiver Davone Bess said. ``It's part of the game plan. If our defense can make a stop, we know we have someone back there who can make a play at any given moment.''

There's fast, and then there's Benjamin fast.

Not even Joe Haden, one of Cleveland's quickest players, can run with ``Rabbit.''

``Nah,'' Haden said. ``He's got special speed. I think his legs are 75 percent of his body.''

He's listed at 175 pounds, but that might be helped by Benjamin's dreadlocks. The Browns won't use him to return kicks, mostly because they're afraid he'll get broken in two.

But Benjamin is too valuable returning punts, and the spot-spoken 23-year-old said there are few things more thrilling than taking one all the way back.

``You can feel your heart pumping,'' he said. ``Everything kind of moves in slow motion to me because I can see the end zone. The closer I am to the end zone the greater chance I have of getting there.''

Benjamin's been on the run for years.

At a young age, he realized his God-given speed could take him places. Growing up in area known as The Glades, where poverty rises alongside the sugar cane, football has been a way out for many. It's a chance to make more of their lives.

And for many boys in Belle Glade, it starts with chasing rabbits.

``It's very important,'' Benjamin said. ``We've got Santonio Holmes, Fred Taylor. It's a great tradition when you grow up and see those guys doing it and they make it to the NFL, you kind of follow on their line and try to do the same thing they have done. Playing ball is a high priority for us, knowing we can play ball and get into a school and to the NFL. It's a great pleasure doing that.''

Benjamin enjoyed explaining the art of the chase to reporters. It's a source of pride, a nod to his past and maybe the reason he's so elusive to tacklers.

The rabbits honed his running skills, and many paid for it.

``You can catch `em and sell `em or catch `em and eat `em,'' he said. ``They kind of taste like pork chops to me. So it's a great meal.''

--

NOTES: Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner explained that QB Brandon Weeden's first two passes last week against Buffalo - incompletions that drew boos from Cleveland fans - were the correct throws. ``One was a screen and he had to throw the ball away,'' Turner said. ``The other one was completely covered and there really wasn't much he could have done. He really made good decisions on both of those plays.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Ronnie HillmanOct 24 04:52p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman continues to run with confidence in the absence of RB Montee Ball (groin), and Ball will likely find it hard to win his starting [ More ]

Jo-Lonn DunbarOct 24 04:22p

St. Louis Rams C Tim Barnes (shoulder) and CB Brandon McGee (foot) are both out for Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs. CBs Janoris Jenkins (knee) and Trumaine [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 24 04:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) said he won't rush back to play until his ankle is fully healed. 'It's our job to help this team win, and [ More ]

Quentin GrovesOct 24 03:52p

Tennessee Titans CB Coty Sensabaugh (knee) and TE Taylor Thompson (knee) are listed as doubtful for Week 8. LB Quentin Groves (ankle) is listed as questionable, while DE Ropati [ More ]

A.J. GreenOct 24 02:22p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) did not practice again Friday, Oct. 24, and he's listed as doubtful for Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Trent RichardsonOct 24 02:02p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the chances aren't looking good that he plays.

Mario WilliamsOct 24 01:52p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin) and LB Ty Powell (ankle) both did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 24, and have been ruled out. WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) [ More ]

Calvin JohnsonOct 24 01:52p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) will truly be a game-time decision against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 in London. Johnson was limited in practice all week and [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 24 01:52p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) has been doing rehab work this week but hasn't practiced. He could be a game-time decision in Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Owen DanielsOct 24 01:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Owen Daniels (knee) underwent a cleanup procedure on his knee and will not play in Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach John Harbaugh said [ More ]

Reggie WayneOct 24 01:02p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) has officially been ruled out for Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

J. BabineauxOct 24 12:32p

Atlanta Falcons DT Jonathan Babineaux (foot) is questionable for Week 8 against the Detroit Lions in London. OOG Justin Blalock (back) and LB Prince Shembo (knee) are probable. Babineaux [ More ]

Darren SprolesOct 24 12:22p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles (knee) practiced in full Friday, Oct. 24, and is listed as questionable for Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals.

Brad SmithOct 24 12:22p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Arizona Cardinals. C Jason Kelce (hernia) and LB Mychal Kendricks (calf) are questionable, while [ More ]

Brandon PettigrewOct 24 12:22p

Detroit Lions TE Joseph Fauria (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons in London. TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot) is doubtful. OT LaAdrian Waddle (concussion) [ More ]

A.J. GreenOct 24 11:42a

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) is not practicing Friday, Oct. 24. It's the third straight day he has missed practice, making it unlikely that he'll be able to play in Week 8.

Zac StacyOct 24 11:02a

St. Louis Rams RB Zac Stacy, who didn't have a touch in Week 7, could remain a factor in the backfield in Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs. [ More ]

Reggie BushOct 24 10:52a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is listed as doubtful for the Week 8 game Sunday, Oct. 26.

Calvin JohnsonOct 24 10:52a

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) is listed as questionable for the Week 8 game Sunday, Oct. 26. Johnson was limited in practice Friday, Oct. 24.

Brandon PettigrewOct 24 09:22a

Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (foot) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Oct. 26. TE Joseph Fauria (ankle) is unlikely to play this weekend.

Eric EbronOct 24 09:22a

Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron (hamstring) is likely out for Week 8, according to head coach Jim Caldwell. Ebron missed practice again Friday, Oct. 24.

Juwan ThompsonOct 24 12:22a

Denver Broncos RB Juwan Thompson had seven carries for 24 yards, including a pair of short touchdown runs, in the team's Week 8 victory Thursday, Oct 23.

Zach MettenbergerOct 23 11:22p

Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger prides himself in his strong arm, WR Kendall Wright said, and the team is hoping that Mettenberger can bring a new element to a [ More ]

Jason VerrettOct 23 11:12p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) has been ruled out for the remainder of the team's Week 8 game Thursday, Oct. 23, with a shoulder injury. He was [ More ]

Andre EllingtonOct 23 11:02p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) said the partially torn tendon in his foot probably won't feel better until after the year. 'I understand it's never going to feel [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 23 09:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) could return in Week 11, according to head coach Jay Gruden. 'I would think - I would guarantee Tampa, most likely, unless [ More ]

Don McGeeOct 23 08:52p

St. Louis Rams CB Janoris Jenkins (knee) and C Tim Barnes (shoulder) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. FS T.J. McDonald (concussion), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), CB Trumaine Johnson [ More ]

Kevin WilliamsOct 23 08:32p

Seattle Seahawks DE Michael Bennett (toe), DT Kevin Williams (undisclosed), WR Bryan Walters (concussion), CB Byron Maxwell (calf) and C Max Unger (foot) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. [ More ]

Frostee RuckerOct 23 07:42p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) and S Rashad Johnson (knee) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Oct. 23. TE Troy Niklas (ankle) did not participate in practice and [ More ]

Johnathan JosephOct 23 07:22p

Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (knee), CB Darryl Morris (ankle) and LBs Brooks Reed (groin), John Simon (ankle) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 23. LB [ More ]

Calais CampbellOct 23 07:12p

Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell (knee) returned to practice and was limited Thursday, Oct. 23. Campbell injured his right medial collateral ligament in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos.

Kapri BibbsOct 23 07:02p

The Denver Broncos have declared OG Ben Garland, RB Kapri Bibbs, OT Michael Schofield, DL Mitch Unrein, RB Montee Ball, S Omar Bolden, LB Steven Johnson inactive for Week 8.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group