Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin‘s weight became an offseason storyline around the league after coach Ron Rivera pointed out he was too heavy when he reported to the offseason program, but it wasn’t the most significant storyline of the last few months for the wideout.
Benjamin’s mother, who he called “my everything,” died in July and Benjamin said on Tuesday that he’s dedicating “every snap, every play” to her this season. He said Tuesday that he’s “grinding” through the negatives to get ready for the season and his conditioning has come back in line as Week One draws closer.
Quarterback Cam Newton said that he believes Benjamin will have his best season as a result of the way he’s fought through the bad times.
“For him to be as functional as he is … he shows a lot of strength mentally to come back from what he’s done and what has happened in his life,” Newton said, via the Charlotte Observer. “He’s come back in great shape, playing with a chip on his shoulder and just playing with a purpose and that’s all you can ask.”
Benjamin’s preseason play — eight catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns — offered a reminder of what he can bring to the offense. If that’s matched with what the Panthers hope rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel bring to the unit, there should be a lot to like about the offense in the coming months.