Attention nail-biting Buffalo football fans: There was some good news on the Bills' anxiety-inducing wide receiver front this week.
Kelvin Benjamin was looking fit and participating fully at the Bills' organized team activity workouts.
Yes, that's worthy of a sigh of relief.
Benjamin is coming off early February surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee.
"I feel great to be out there running and just catching the ball, getting in the playbook and seeing what the season's going to be like," Benjamin said.
LeSean McCoy is the best player on the Bills' team. But Benjamin might be the most indispensable, given the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the receiving corps.
Projected No. 2 wideout Zay Jones has a ton to prove and now is out the rest of the spring due to knee surgery. The next most accomplished wideout is eighth-year pro Jeremy Kerley, who only caught 22 passes with the Jets last season. Next are Andre Holmes and Rod Streater, who produced 13 and 18 catches, respectively, last season. Then there's a bunch of rookies and other unproven young guys.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin is the No. 1 receiving weapon by miles.
"Kelvin's an unbelievable talent," said quarterback Nathan Peterman. "Obviously, there's all of his measureables. But he wants it, too. He's got the mentality that I'm going to go beat the guy in front of me. You just throw it up, I'm going to catch it. That's huge when you've got a guy like that with his talent."
Benjamin played seven games for the Bills last season after being acquired in the big, midseason trade with Carolina on Oct. 31. He hurt his knee in just his second game for Buffalo, at the Chargers, and missed the next two. But he toughed it out through the final five games.
He finished with 48 catches for 692 yards last season, between the Panthers and Bills combined.
But the former first-round draft pick has the ability to do much more.
He caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards in 2014. After sitting out 2015 with torn knee ligaments, he had 63 catches for 941 yards in 2016.
The meniscus surgery in February was not a huge deal. He said he was running just three weeks afterward. He's cleared for full work this spring.
"I think it's going to be a great season for me," Benjamin said. "Coming off that ACL, then I never really felt the same. They say it takes really two, three years for the ACL to really come back. I feel good right now. I feel as strong as I've ever been and as light as I've ever been.
"I'm just strengthening, getting my strength back, getting repetitions on it and getting it used to the pounding," he said. "Now it's fine."
Said coach Sean McDermott: "He's off to a good start. Give a lot of credit to Kelvin. He’s approached this offseason head-on and our training staff, in terms of our strength and conditioning staff, our medical staff, there’s a lot of people involved in getting him back to where he was X amount of months ago. I believe we’re headed in the right direction."
Benjamin said he's focused on developing chemistry with his teammates as they all try to learn a new offense.
"I just want to come out here and learn the playbook, keep my head in the playbook and develop chemistry with the quarterbacks and the new guys," he said. "We're just having fun getting back to ball."
He said he's not concerned about who wins the Bills' three-way quarterbacking competition.
"Not really. I always pride myself on catching any ball – low, high," he said. "That was one of the reasons Carolina drafted me, to catch an inaccurate ball. So I'm always going to be there to catch the ball no matter who it's coming from."
"He’s a great player, huge target, really," said QB AJ McCarron. "If you just put the ball around him, he does a great job of snagging it and making a play. He’s been awesome to work with."
Story topics: Kelvin Benjamin