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Benjamin expected to return Saturday

8/1/2014

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin is expected to return to practice on Saturday for the first time since bruising his left knee six days ago.

Outside linebacker Thomas Davis is glad.

Davis has a vested interest in the rookie wide receiver from Florida State since he suggested him publicly when asked who the team should select with the 28th pick.

"I've been talking to him a lot more than some of the other guys,'' Davis said. "I told him not only have you put pressure on the organization, you have put pressure on me as well because I was calling for him.''

Coach Ron Rivera is glad to have Benjamin back, period. Before suffering the injury, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound receiver was looking every bit worthy of where he was selected -- maybe more the way he was making the tough catches.

Davis has been impressed. Asked if Benjamin was a load to cover over the middle, he began with a stare.

"He's a big kid, man,'' Davis said. "Whenever you have a guy that has a catch radius that he has, even if you have him covered, he can still go over the top of you and get the ball. It hasn't happened yet.''

He meant to him. It has happened to other Carolina defensive players frequently.

"And I'm going to make sure it doesn't happen to me, because he's already been talking trash,'' Davis said.

Benjamin ran well on Friday for trainers and has spent the past couple of days participating in walk-throughs with the first team.

Rivera's expectations when Benjamin returns?

"Pick up right where he left off,'' Rivera said. "He made a couple of mistakes [in walk-throughs], but he's trying to stay right on top of it.''

When asked earlier in the week what he expected upon his return, Benjamin said, "I'm coming back even harder, 10 times harder.''