BEREA, Ohio -- Wide receiver Travis Benjamin was emerging as a game-breaking return man for the Cleveland Browns last season, but after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee at the Kansas City Chiefs in October, that impact ability was shelved for the rest of the year.
Nearly 10 months after suffering the torn ACL, Benjamin is back on the field for the Browns, and he could not be happier to drop back deep and return kicks, especially if the opportunity presents itself in Saturday night's preseason opener against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
"It's going to be great," Benjamin said after Thursday's practice. "Knowing that I've been out of football for seven, eight months now, just to get back in the swing of things, there's going to be butterflies for that first hit, just to get the jitterbugs out of the way.
"(I missed) just actually going out there and playing for the Cleveland Browns, knowing that I can be a big factor, that playmaker that gives us that extra yard we need to be a successful team."
Although Benjamin is happy to be back, Browns special-teams coach Chris Tabor is even more thrilled with the return of Rabbit, Benjamin's nickname after growing up chasing rabbits out of the sugar cane fields in his hometown of Belle Glade, Florida.
"Obviously, he's an explosive weapon," Tabor said. "We're in the business of winning games, and he gives you an opportunity for a big play. You can't play this game scared and you can't coach this game scared. If he's our best player doing it, we're going to put him out there and do it.
"Really, he goes to spin another time in Kansas City. It's a non-contact injury. His foot just got stuck in the turf. That can happen at any time. He's healthy. He's running well. He's catching the ball well. To me, he still appears very fast."
In two years with the Browns, Benjamin has turned 25 punt returns into 406 yards and two touchdowns, including a 93-yard score at the Chiefs as a rookie in 2012, and a 79-yard tally against the Buffalo Bills last October.
It was during the Buffalo game that Benjamin tallied 179 yards on punt returns and earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
In addition to the punt returns, he has turned six kickoffs into 222 yards.
"It's the same thing to me," Benjamin said. "Kick return, punt return, it's all about getting that right field position for the offense and setting the offense up so we can go down and score touchdowns.
"It's no different to me. Both of them are just a free play on the offense where you can just go out there and, as a unit, scheme it up and block it how Coach Tabor wants us to and make the best out of it."