Saints’ head coach Sean Payton raves over Buffalo WR Kelvin Benjamin
(Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin — Nick Wojton photo)
ORCHARD PARK – Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott was well aware of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin’s skill-set when the team acquired him from the Carolina Panthers just prior to the NFL trade deadline.
McDermott served as Carolina’s defensive coordinator for six seasons before heading to Western New York. Another Sean knows Kelvin, too. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, who will face the Benjamin and the Bills on Sunday, is well aware of Benjamin’s abilities.
Over first three years of Benjamin’s career, excluding 2015 when Benjamin missed the entire season due to an ACL tear, Payton’s coaching staff devised multiple game plans with Benjamin in mind. Carolina and New Orleans are both division rivals in the NFC South.
On Wednesday during a conference call with Western New York media, Payton raved about the player who will be making his Bills debut on Sunday after Buffalo acquired Benjamin too early for him to take part in last week’s Thursday Night Football meeting with the Jets.
“Well he’s got a large catch radius, a guy that can really high-point balls. Not only in the intermediate passing game but down the field as well,” Payton said. “His last touchdown catch for Carolina (17-3 win vs. Tampa on 10/29) was like a third-and-freakin’-21.”
Payton, like McDermott coaching Tyrod Taylor, coaches an undersized quarterback in Drew Brees. Taylor is listed a 6-foot-1 while Brees is listed at 6-foot. Payton said he believes wide receivers with the size of 6-foot-5 like Benjamin, make things easier on quarterbacks.
“There’s a confidence level I think quarterbacks have with that catch radius. He’s got very strong hands in traffic. You’ll see him catch it over the middle, the skinny post, you’ll see him catch the slants. I think you’ll be impressed with the size and it creates little bit of a challenge defensively when you create matchups and what you’re trying to do with regards to coverage,” Payton said.
“I think it was a good addition,” he added.
For his career, Benjamin has five games played against Payton, Brees and the Saints. In total, Benjamin has 17grabs for 192 yards and one touchdown on 35 targets. Benjamin’s best performance against New Orleans came in October 2016 when he grabbed eight passes and 86 catches.
And in addition to praising Benjamin, Payton also added thoughts on McDermott, who had a 7-5 record against the Saints during his time in Carolina.
“You can see his imprint on a team very quickly. There are similarities defensively, and like you expect, there are some differences, however they decided to build a team,” Payton said. “I have a ton of respect for Sean (McDermott) and it’s great to see him take advantage of that opportunity because he’s a fabulous coach.”
Kick off between the Bills and Saints at New Era Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.