At this point last week some Carolina Panthers fans were making fat jokes about wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and wondering whether the team would exercise his fifth-year option.
The Panthers did pick up Benjamin’s option for 2018 – but not before making him wait until the last day to do so and having him endure some public shaming.
Whatever his motivation, Benjamin seems to have gotten the message.
Both days during the Panthers’ two-day rookie minicamp, Benjamin’s vehicle was parked outside Bank of America Stadium. Inside the stadium, Benjamin was presumably trying to shed a few of his extra pounds when few of his teammates were around.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin was at the stadium for extra treatment – not for an injury, but more for general fitness and well-being.
“He’s worked very hard when he’s been around. He’s done a great job,” Rivera said Saturday. “He comes in and gets the extra treatment, gets in the whirlpool, gets in the steam, sauna, stuff like that. He’s been great. He knows it, and he’s been what you would hope he would be.”
Benjamin’s latest weight struggle initially came to light when a local broadcast report put him at close to 280 pounds. Rivera said that wasn’t accurate, but conceded Benjamin had reported for offseason workouts “a little heavy.”
While not a stinging rebuke, the fact that Rivera acknowledged the situation at all seemed to be a public poke at his wideout. Rivera said at the time he was concerned about Benjamin, but pointed out he was working hard to lose the weight.
The 6-5 Benjamin is listed at 245 pounds, but his playing weight is closer to 250-252. Rivera has not said what Benjamin weighed in April at the start of the voluntary workout program, or what his current weight is.