Buffalo receiver Kelvin Benjamin will make his Bills debut on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapaport reports.
After being acquired by the Bills in a trade with the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 25, Benjamin’s had less than two weeks to study the Bills’ playbook in order to learn a new offensive scheme and four days of practice with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, so it’s unknown how much the fourth-year receiver will play.
General manager Brandon Beane said last week Benjamin would slide into the “X” receiver role, lining up directly on the line of scrimmage. The plan, according to Beane, would be to move second-round rookie Zay Jones to the “Z” receiver spot.
However, that plan went awry when Jones injured his knee and ankle in the Week 9 loss to the Jets. He didn’t practice at all last week and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.
With Jones sidelined, the other receivers beside Benjamin will be Jordan Matthews, Andre Holmes, Deonte Thompson and Brandon Tate.
The thinner picture at receiver could necessitate more playing time for Benjamin in his Bills debut.
“A little bit,” head coach Sean McDermott said Thursday. “But really overall, not necessarily. We got the other guys. Good supporting cast that way.”
Benjamin, at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, is among the largest receivers in the league and often makes catches over smaller defensive backs even when he is covered. Because of that Taylor should be able to throw to Benjamin with a level of trust even when Benjamin is not able to separate from the defender.
Benjamin has proved a somewhat reliable big target since he entered the league as a first-round pick in 2014. Among the 19 receivers 6-foot-4 or taller with at least 50 targets since 2014, Benjamin ranks 12th with a 54.4 catch-per-target rate, behind notables including A.J. Green (third, 64.5 percent), Brandon Marshall (eighth, 56.8 percent) and Mike Evans (11th, 54.6 percent).