2015 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

Jake BequetteAug 28 08:52a

New England Patriots TE/DE Jake Bequette (undisclosed) was waived/injured Thursday, Aug. 27.

Miles AustinAug 28 08:32a

Philadelphia Eagles WR Miles Austin hasn't stood out, or received many chances to stand out, thus in training camp. His role is undetermined as he could start on the [ More ]

Nelson AgholorAug 27 10:22p

Philadelphia Eagles WR Nelson Agholor should be the 'second-most productive receiver on the team when the season ends,' according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ryan MallettAug 27 07:52p

Updating a previous report, Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett missed practice Thursday, Aug. 27, because he overslept. Mallett was present for meetings later on, however. He will also be at practice Friday, Aug. 28.

Josh JohnsonAug 27 07:42p

Free-agent QB Josh Johnson (Bengals) signed with the New York Jets Thursday, Aug. 29. QB Jake Heaps was subsequently waived.

R. Griffin IIIAug 27 07:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (concussion) has been cleared to play Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Baltimore Ravens.

Earl ThomasAug 27 06:22p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) is on track to be ready for the start of the regular season, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Markus WheatonAug 27 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler.

Letroy GuionAug 27 04:52p

Green Bay Packers DE Letroy Guion will be suspended for the first three games of the regular season after his appeal was apparently denied.

Martavis BryantAug 27 03:02p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has been suspended four games for violating the league's Substance Abuse Policy, according to league sources. He has filed an appeal.

Arian FosterAug 27 02:22p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has been working out in Houston, and he's expected to return to the field in some facet by Week 2 to Week 4, [ More ]

Pat DevlinAug 27 10:32a

Free-agent QB Pat Devlin (Dolphins) signed with the Cleveland Browns Thursday, Aug. 27. OL Ryan Seymour was waived.

Connor BarthAug 26 08:53p

Free-agent PK Connor Barth (Broncos) agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Aug. 26, on a two-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

DeVante ParkerAug 26 04:23p

Miami Dolphins rookie WR DeVante Parker (foot) isn't sure if he'll be healthy enough in time for Week 1. He and the Dolphins don't want to have rushed return [ More ]

Brandon McManusAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Connor BarthAug 26 10:33a

Denver Broncos PK Brandon McManus won the kicking job as PK Connor Barth was released Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Evan RoysterAug 26 10:13a

Atlanta Falcons RB Evan Royster (undisclosed) was waived/injured Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Rex GrossmanAug 26 09:23a

Free-agent QB Rex Grossman (Redskins) was signed by the Atlanta Falcons to a one-year, $1 million deal Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Taylor MaysAug 26 12:43a

The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent SS Taylor Mays (Bengals) Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Orlando ScandrickAug 26 12:43a

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Aug. 25. An MRI confirmed the injury.

Michael VickAug 25 07:42p

Updating a previous report, free-agent QB Michael Vick (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday, Aug. 25. Financial terms were not disclosed. QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) [ More ]

Evan MathisAug 25 06:13p

Free-agent OG Evan Mathis (Eagles) agreed to a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Jameis WinstonAug 25 04:33p

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Jameis Winston (ankle) suffered a sprained ankle Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Lovie Smith still expects [ More ]

Josh JohnsonAug 25 02:53p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Josh Johnson was released Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Victor CruzAug 25 02:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf) doesn't know when he'll be able to return to practice as he continues to deal with inflammation in [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerAug 25 01:23p

Tennessee Titans backup QB Zach Mettenberger has performed at a high level in training camp and the preseason, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt laughed off a suggestion that the [ More ]

Bruce GradkowskiAug 25 12:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (finger) suffered a dislocated finger on his left hand during the team's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers last weekend, according to [ More ]

Andre WilliamsAug 25 12:22p

New York Giants RB Andre Williams could overtake RB Rashad Jennings as the lead back sometime this season, maybe even to open the season. Williams has worked on his [ More ]

Mike EvansAug 25 09:13a

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) isn't believed to have a serious hamstring injury. 'I talked to him and he didn't feel like it [ More ]

Jameis WinstonAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston completed eight of his 13 pass attempts for 90 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against [ More ]

Doug MartinAug 24 11:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin rushed six times for 59 yards in the preseason game Monday, Aug. 24, against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Mike EvansAug 24 09:12p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) left the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday, Aug. 24, due to a strained hamstring.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group