Kelvin Benjamin wasn’t ready to come off the field after two series.
The rookie receiver said the Panthers’ coaches told him he was done, but he didn’t want to leave the field after a three-and-out in the Panthers’ second series of Thursday night’s 10-0 win at Pittsburgh.
“I told them I’d like to take it one more,” Benjamin said. “I felt like we had a couple of mistakes we had to correct.
“I just want to leave with a smile.”
Benjamin had eight catches for 117 yards and one touchdown entering Thursday night’s exhibition against the Steelers.
Despite being the Carolina Panthers’ leading receiver this preseason, the coaching staff saw it necessary for him to play more in order to get him into form for Week 1.
Benjamin caught four passes for 56 yards on seven targets, but he had some lapses as well.
He dropped a sure touchdown on a fade in the end zone from Anderson.
“(The cornerback) had great position on me but I tried to body him and catch it at the same time but it was an awkward catch, and it just went through my hands,” Benjamin said.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera has said that rookies need 5,000 reps before they’re ready for the regular season. No one’s counted all the reps Benjamin has taken from the start of organized team activities through Thursday night, but the rookie receiver had 94 snaps in exhibitions. He had 25 snaps against the Steelers.
“We felt pretty confident in him and knowing that he’s got to learn and grow,” Rivera said. “I guess it is a little risky, but at the same time he’s got to learn.”
Benjamin hurt his middle finger on his right hand during the game. He later had it taped, and he said it was to get the swelling down.
Short just short: Kawann Short was 1 yard short of getting his first safety of his NFL career.
On first-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 10-yard line, Short burst up the middle and took quarterback Landry Jones deep into the end zone for a sack. But the referees marked Jones’ forward progress stopped at the 1.
Whittaker the carrier: Fozzy Whittaker hadn’t seen 23 touches since at least high school.
The Panthers fed Whittaker the ball early and often out of the backfield, and he churned those carries into 91 yards.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart sat out of the game, and Mike Tolbert was limited in his carries. Whittaker played through an injury to his right midsection suffered in the first half.
“He showed some toughness out there,” Rivera said. “He got bumped a little bit but stuck it out and did a heck of a job.”
Next for Alexander: Defensive end Frank Alexander won’t suit up for the Panthers until the first practice of Week 5 due to a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Alexander said he will stay in Charlotte and visit the facility, but he won’t be able to practice.
“There's always ways you can get better,” Alexander said. “When I'm (suspended), just stay focused, don't lose focus and be ready to come back in Week 5.”
Observations• Greg Hardy dressed in uniform but did not play with a bruised shoulder.
• Luke Kuechly did not play despite Rivera saying earlier in the week Kuechly would be on a snap count. He played 15 snaps last week against the Patriots, and he’s nursing a hyper-extended thumb.
• Cornerback James Dockery could have helped his case for the 53-man roster with an interception in the first quarter on a pass that bounced off his face mask.
• Philly Brown hauled in a great 53-yard pass from Joe Webb midway through the third quarter and went down at the 2. Curiously, Brown couldn’t keep his feet on the ball that seemed to be placed perfectly, and he could have walked into the end zone had he stayed upright.