Kelvin Benjamin on track to contribute for Bills this Sunday

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Kelvin Benjamin was inactive for the Buffalo Bills' 34-21 loss last Thursday to the New York Jets, but spent the off weekend in Buffalo trying to learn a new offensive scheme as many of his teammates traveled elsewhere.

With 12 days to study the Bills' playbook and four days of practice with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the question is not if Benjamin will play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, but how much the fourth-year receiver will play.

For Benjamin's fantasy owners seeking clarity, coach Sean McDermott offered an update after Thursday's practice.

"He's about where I thought he would be, honestly," McDermott said. "Still trying to get up to speed on everything. He's trying to detail his work. In the context of coming in in the middle of the season, transitioning from one system to another system, that's always a challenge.

"So he's done a good job to this point. We've just got to continue to go through the process, refine it, so he can play fast on Sunday."

General manager Brandon Beane said last week Benjamin would slide into the "X" receiver role after arriving in a trade with Carolina, 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 did not practice Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, putting his availability for Sunday in considerable doubt.

If the Bills (5-3) do not have Jones, which the expectation, their 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," McDermott said Thursday. "But really overall, not necessarily. We got the other guys. Good supporting cast that way."

One of Beane's talking points after making the trade was that 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, Beane believes Taylor can throw to Benjamin with a level of trust -- and use him as a sort of safety net -- 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).

It remains to be seen whether Benjamin's size advantage will make it easier for Taylor to throw to him even when the timing of Benjamin's routes might not yet be in sync with Taylor's reads.

"I have to give him those opportunities to be able to make those plays," Taylor said Wednesday.

"I still don't want to just say, 'Throw it up,'" Benjamin added. "So I just tell him, 'Throw it off leverage.' Whatever you feel, just throw it and I got you."