On Monday, Rivera said the goal remained about 35 snaps a game for the third-year wide receiver who is returning from a season-ending ACL injury. He seemed to consider anything more in Thursday’s NFL opener at Denver a bonus.
On Tuesday, Rivera indicated he would be happy with less. He made it clear he’s not looking for the 57.8 snaps a game Benjamin got during his rookie season in 2014.
That year, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Benjamin played 926 out of 1,105 snaps -- 83.8 percent of team’s offensive plays. He caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.
But the Panthers were thin at wide receiver then, trying to find a replacement for all-time leading receiver Steve Smith. That’s not the case this season with Benjamin, Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr., Philly Brown and even Brenton Bersin playing at a higher level.
"I don’t know if I’d like to [get that many], because we have so many weapons out there in terms of the other receivers," Rivera said of Benjamin reaching his 2014 snaps. "Obviously, if he plays that much somebody else isn’t playing.
"With the guys that we have and the different personalities and different abilities they have, it’s a good thing to mix it up and keep everybody close to the same numbers, between 25 and 35. Who knows, maybe we’ve got good balance."
Balance is one thing. But keeping your top receiver on the sideline for about 50 percent of your offensive snaps doesn’t sound like the best strategy.
This is a player who quarterback Cam Newton has said could revolutionize the receiver position with his size, strength and speed.
"I mean, look at me," Benjamin said. "I mean, it’s no limit to where I go."
But there could be a limit on his snaps if the Panthers become more balanced, as Rivera suggested.
"If it is more, great. I’d be really excited about it," Rivera said of the 35 estimate. "He’s done some really good things, and you see him getting back into stride and that’s probably the best thing.
"You see him taking more reps, you see him doing extra work, you see him working with Cam on the side. You can tell he’s gaining more and more confidence in [the knee]. So as the game progresses, if we hit that number, great. If we exceed it, then it’s even better for us."