Much ado has been made during the Carolina Panthers’ voluntary offseason workouts of receiver Kelvin Benjamin and his conditioning.
After a broadcast report last month that estimated Benjamin, who has a history of struggling to keep the weight in check on his 6-foot-5 frame, was 280 pounds, head coach Ron Rivera was quick to shoot it down. Rivera remarked that Benjamin had reported to team meetings a little overweight, but certainly not at that number.
Rivera said after Thursday morning’s OTAs session that Benjamin has been “outstanding ... as you guys can see, he looks great out there.”
Still, the Internet can be ruthless.
A short video posted by a Panthers in-house reporter of Benjamin running a single route earlier this week at OTAs got the meme-and-tease treatment, as many in the thread opined that Benjamin looked slow, to put it politely.
Somewhat unflattering photos of Benjamin walking out of practice surfaced on Wednesday drew even more weight speculation and jokes.
“A lot was made out of it that was unfair to be made out of it,” said head coach Ron Rivera on Thursday morning after OTAs. “Especially in a voluntary situation. But he’s worked very hard. He’s focused in on what he needs to do and he’s done that.
“Now we as coaches need to stay on him to make sure he’s doing the right things.”
Thursday’s OTAs were the first time since speculation began that reporters saw Benjamin in person. And Benjamin doesn’t, to the casual eye, appear much different than he did to close out last season – although the Observer reported earlier this spring that Benjamin finished the 2016 season about 10 pounds over his ideal playing weight.