Browns Rookie WR Benjamin Improving, Shurmur Thinks He Can Contribute Right Away
Everyone expected the Cleveland Browns to give their offense a boost by taking a quarterback, running back and wide receiver early in the draft. The selections of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden addressed the QB and RB needs in the first round, but wide receiver was neglected until the fourth round, when the team took Miami WR Travis Benjamin. While it might seem like the very poor receiving corps of 2011 got no immediate help, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur would beg to differ.
After a slow start to the Browns rookie mini camp that included two early drops, Benjamin immediately made strides and caught the eye of onlookers and teammates, including his new QB Weeden. Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes that Benjamin's improvement on Friday alone was "noticeable." Manoloff reports that Benjamin made "several difficult catches" and ran "cleaner" routes in the afternoon on Friday and that he was "even better" on Saturday.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer said Weeden and Benjamin "developed a chemistry" during the three-day mini camp. According to Cabot, Weeden said at the end of the session Benjamin "can fly." Cabot also reported that head coach Pat Shurmur believes Benjamin can compete for immediate playing time and possibly even start in his rookie year. Shurmur told Cabot and other media that he saw "a lot of good stuff" from Benjamin in the mini camp and that he feels Benjamin will only get better.
Benjamin might not need to improve that much to crack the starting lineup. Mohamed Massaquoi has been given numerous opportunities to seize a starting role, and Josh Cribbs is probably best suited as a novelty player on offense and only emergency depth as a downfield receiver. Greg Little will get every chance to establish himself as the No. 1 receiver on the Browns for the long haul, but his possession game needs speed on the other side to threaten safeties, and that's exactly what Benjamin brings to the table. He isn't getting the post-draft ink that Weeden and Richardson are getting, but the fourth-round pick could be an integral part of the revival of the Browns offense in 2012.
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