KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin started the week as a polarizing figure for the rebuilding Buffalo Bills, yet he finishes the week as a suddenly crucial puzzle piece for the Super Bowl contending Chiefs.
“We all know the Kansas City Chiefs have been tearing it up this year,” Benjamin said following his first practice with the team Friday. “They were one of the teams that really wanted me, I'm glad to be here.”
Benjamin agreed to terms with the Chiefs for the final four games of the season, stepping into the league's highest scoring offense suddenly missing two integral components. The Chiefs released running back Kareem Hunt last Friday, and this Friday learned they may be without receiver Sammy Watkins for an extended period after he re-tweaked his injured right foot.
The fifth-year receiver comes to an offense he calls “super dynamic.”
“Anybody can score,: Benjamin said. “You can't guard them.”
He also likes that he sees in quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“He gets the ball out, man,” Benjamin said. “He makes plays with his feet, step plays and how he gets the ball to his pass catchers.”
For head coach Andy Reid, Benjamin's 6-foot-5, 239-pound frame provides a physically imposing target for Mahomes.
“You know what, he's in great shape, man,” Reid said. He's a big kid. He's a big old guy. But he's in phenomenal shape.”
Reid and the Chiefs have first-hand experience with Benjamin. He caught seven passes for 84 yards against the Chiefs in a 2016 game at Carolina won by Kansas City 20-17.
“He's been good against us, No. 1,” Reid said. “Big, physical player and again you add him to the mix. He comes in, he's got experience and been a good football player at this level and in this league. He was a great college player, we liked him coming out of Florida State.”
The 27-year-old Benjamin doesn't expect to play Sunday against Baltimore;. The Chiefs are aiming for him to make his debut next Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
”Right now we're just trying to get into the playbook right now, just get my feet wet,” Benjamin said. “Right now I probably won't be playing in this game. Just trying to get here and my feet wet, just catch up with the guys, get settled.”
Reid also believes Benjamin can be ready by next Thursday against the Chargers.
“I'd probably tell you by next week he'll he have a pretty good feel,” Reid said. “He's a sharp kid, he'll be pick it up.”
Benjamin burst on to the NFL season as a first-round draft pick the Carolina Panthers in 2014, turning in his best seasons of his career with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. After a torn ACL during a training camp practice wiped out his 2015 season, Benjamin bounced back in 2016 with 63 catches for 941 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Panthers dealt Benjamin to Buffalo at the trade deadline in 2017, but things never clicked with the Bills. Benjamin caught 39 passes for 571 yards and two touchdowns in 18 games with Buffalo over the past two seasons.
He didn't elaborate on Friday exactly what went wrong in Buffalo, but said he saw his release this week coming.
“I guess a lot of variables I guess,” Benjamin said. “It was just one of those seasons. It's a rebuild type year, I guess.”
Reid believes Benjamin has a chance to revitalize his career in Kansas City.
“Sometimes a change of scenery can be good for a guy and he's got an opportunity to come in here,” Reid said.