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Bills' Kelvin Benjamin thinks 'time is now' to end NFL's longest playoff drought

The Carolina Panthers were running out the clock during a Week Eight victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Kelvin Benjamin looked up at the Jumbotron inside Raymond James Stadium.

At that moment, a highlight from the Buffalo Bills' game against the Oakland Raiders aired. Receiver Brandon Tate was mobbed by his teammates after a 24-yard gain during Buffalo's blowout win.

"I looked over to Trai Turner and was just like, 'Buffalo playing,' " Benjamin recalled Monday. "They playing."

Two days later, Benjamin joined the Bills in a trade executed just minutes before the NFL deadline.

"To tell you the truth, I kind of really wasn't surprised," he said about the deal, speaking to the Western New York media for the first time since joining Buffalo six days ago. "I could kind of feel the offense was going toward another direction. This is a great opportunity for me. I'm excited. Come to a new city, new team. When I got here, man, they had open arms. I'm loving it. I'm excited."

Benjamin didn't specifically say he had requested a trade, but said he "definitely" felt like a change of scenery was needed.

"When it first hit me, you're kind of like ‘ah,’ because it's all you know. I got drafted there," he said. "After a couple days, and after being here ... it just feels so welcoming. It feels like home."

Benjamin was inactive last Thursday when the Bills played their Week Nine game against the Jets just two days after he was acquired. Although he said he wanted to play in that game, he knew it wasn't a realistic possibility.

"I didn't know the basic concepts then, so it would have just been like go run a slant, or go run a go or something like that," he said. "It was good watching them. Good seeing the atmosphere, good seeing the guys bring that energy. I want to be a part of this team for a very long time."

Watch: Kelvin Benjamin talks to media after Bills practice

Bills coach Sean McDermott gave Benjamin the option of going home over the weekend to gather his belongings, but the receiver opted to stay in Buffalo instead to continue learning the playbook.

"It showed me his commitment," McDermott said. "He moved up here in a very short amount of time and I offered him the chance to go home and get some clothes and get organized and he said, ‘no, coach, I want to stay and get this offense down as best I can in a short amount of time here.’ That showed me he’s committed to the cause at this point."

Benjamin comes to a team with plenty of familiar faces. He reached out to his former teammate in Carolina, Joe Webb, when he first learned of the trade.

"I didn’t know a lot about" Buffalo "but as soon as I got traded, I hit Joe Webb up, and Joe Webb was like ‘man, you’re going to love it man, you’re going to love it, the people, the fans, the college-based atmosphere,' " he said. "You watch the games, don’t matter how cold it is or what their record was in the past, the stadium was packed. That has to tell you something, that history, that passion."

Benjamin figures to be the Bills' No. 1 receiver when he's fully up to speed, but that will take some time.

"We just started, but he’ll be on the field," offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. He has a "good chance to make some catches, and make some plays for us."

The Bills will face the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, which is a bit of a benefit for Benjamin given that he's seen them twice a year in the NFC South.

"it definitely helps that I’ve seen them before, and seen how they play. But at the end of the day, we have to go out there and execute, have to go out there and make plays. That’s what I’m here to do."

The Bills are being careful to make sure Benjamin doesn't feel too much pressure to be "the guy" with his new team.

"A team is never made up of just one guy, so let’s get over that," McDermott said. "Let’s get past that. He will integrate into what we’re doing and add to what we’re doing. We’ve got good players already in this building and we were able to add another good player with Kelvin, so I expect him to embed into what we’re doing and work on being A. a good teammate and B. learning the system. I look forward to seeing how we’re going to use him."

It was pointed out to Benjamin during his introductory press conference that his new team is currently riding a 17-year postseason drought. At 5-3 and currently in the sixth and final playoff spot, the Bills have put themselves in a position to end that streak with a strong second half.


"I think the time is now," Benjamin said. "You can see it. You can just see the energy changing. You can see how these guys come to work, you know what I'm saying? I mean, you can see how they play. You see that one guy make a play, when the whole team went out there on the field, that says a lot."

Watch: Our Team's Takeaway from Monday's Bills practice

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