Kelvin Benjamin eyes quick return

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers still don't have a timetable on the return of first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin from a bruised left knee, but it could be sooner rather than later.

"I woke up this morning like a new man," Benjamin said Tuesday. "It feels way better. But they said still take your time with it."

Benjamin bruised the knee during Sunday afternoon's practice. He was taken to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Monday for an MRI after experiencing pain and swelling. No structural damage was found, and the initial prognosis was he'd miss at least several days of practice.

The 6-foot-5 Benjamin spent much of Tuesday on the practice field riding a stationary bike and working with trainers. He also found time to be around quarterback Cam Newton to continue the bond the Panthers hope will make the former Florida State standout the No. 1 receiver.

The Panthers are off on Wednesday and don't return to the field until Thursday morning. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin will be re-evaluated again on Wednesday.

Benjamin doesn't anticipate missing any preseason games. The Panthers open the exhibition schedule on Aug. 8 against Buffalo.

Benjamin was selected with the 28th pick of the draft to help fill the void of all-time leading receiver Steve Smith, 35, who was released during the offseason.

Benjamin and Newton spent much of the summer working together to develop chemistry, as Newton rehabilitated from offseason surgery on his left ankle. Benjamin doesn't expect the injury to stall their momentum.

"I'm coming back 10 times harder," he said.

Rivera initially said the injury occurred when Benjamin's knee collided with the knee of a teammate. Benjamin said it happened when he came down from an attempted catch and came down with all of his body weight on the knee.

He admittedly was scared when trainer Ryan Vermillion sent him for the MRI.

"I was kind of down for a little bit, but once the trainer talked to me it wasn't that bad," Benjamin said. "We just went from there."