The Panthers offense started Sunday’s game against the Seahawks without wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin on the field.
It wasn’t a strategic decision. After the game, coach Ron Rivera said that Benjamin sat out those plays to send the message that “you are accountable just like everybody else” without explaining why Benjamin was being held accountable.
Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports that Benjamin was late for a team meeting on Saturday and couldn’t steal Geno Smith’s time zone-excuse for his tardiness because the Panthers were playing at home. Benjamin’s punishment didn’t extend to the field as he led the team in receiving yards during the 13-9 loss.
“I really didn’t worry about it,” Benjamin said. “When I got my chance and got in, I just wanted to make my mark and get the offense going and help the team.”
Benjamin did that with a 51-yard catch in heavy coverage to set up one of Graham Gano’s field goals, but he also dropped a pass in the end zone that would have really helped Carolina on a day when touchdowns were tough to come by for both teams. Such is life for an NFL rookie, especially one whose attention to detail appears to need some work on and off the field.