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Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Kelvin Benjamin: 'I'm faster than they think'

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Most of the focus was on the throw when Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton overshot Kelvin Benjamin deep down the left sideline during Sunday's preseason win against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Overlooked was how wide open the rookie wide receiver was.

So I asked: Are you faster than most people think?

"Oh, I know I'm faster than they think," Benjamin said with a smile. "They just don't know it."

Kelvin Benjamin
Panthers rookie Kelvin Benjamin isn't shy when it comes to bragging about his speed on the field.
One of the knocks on Benjamin in May's NFL draft was he lacked elite speed. His official time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine was 4.61, which was slower than the time of the top four outside linebackers in Indianapolis.

Because he's 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Benjamin doesn't look like he's moving fast. But when he makes a good move as he did against the Chiefs' cornerback, he's deceptively fast.

He's far from the fastest Carolina wide receiver, though. The one thing the top three -- Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant -- lack is elite speed.

And the Panthers have a need for speed.

That's why they are giving Philly Brown, an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State, a shot to make the team as a receiver/punt returner. When you talk about raw speed, this 5-11, 180-pound dynamo has it.

His official 40 time at the combine wasn't impressive. It was listed as 4.51 seconds, which he disputes. He believes he's closer to the unofficial time of 4.37, and insists he's in the record book at Ohio State with a 4.3.

That might unofficially make him the fastest Carolina receiver -- or player. Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood was clocked at 4.31 in the 40 coming out of Rutgers, but you have to believe he's lost a step or two since 2009.

To be fair, since I asked Benjamin about his speed, I asked Brown if he was Carolina's fastest player.

"Absolutely," he said.

He smiled, too. Players apparently smile a lot when talking about their speed.

You're probably more familiar with Benjamin since Carolina made him the 28th selection of the draft. You're probably not as familiar with Brown.

Here are a few things you should know. Only his mother calls him Corey. Everyone else calls him Philly, the name given to him as a freshman at Ohio State by then-coach Jim Tressel because he had two other Corey Browns on the roster. Since he was from Philadelphia, it stuck.

He led the Big Ten in punt-return average (12.3 yards) as a junior, a number Carolina coach Ron Rivera mentioned before giving Brown a chance to return punts against the Chiefs.

He's also versatile.

"I'm a guy that can punt return, kick return, play offense and do whatever else you want me to do," Brown said. "I can hold up the gunner and I can play the gunner. I think they like that I'm versatile, and I'm willing to do it. Wherever they put me, I'm just going."

But what Brown brings to the table more than anything is speed. The Panthers need speed, particularly at the wide receiver spot despite Benjamin being so sneaky fast.

"Those guys are great receivers, they do all the other things that I'm trying to learn how to do," Brown said. "They know how to control their speed, get in and out of breaks. But obviously, any team can use speed.

"Speed kills at any level."