Hamstring issues plaguing Panthers 2nd-year WR Benjamin

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers second-year wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is back on the sideline with more hamstring problems.

Benjamin missed minicamp practice on Wednesday with a strained right hamstring. A left hamstring injury kept last season's 1,000-yard receiver out of most of Carolina's OTAs in previous weeks.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Benjamin reported to offseason workouts slightly overweight, which may have contributed to his hamstring problems. He said the team's trainers are looking into Benjamin's history with hamstring issues.

''We're going to look at every avenue to make sure it's not a chronic issue with him,'' Rivera said. ''He's too good of a football to have on the sideline.''

Benjamin won't practice in Thursday's final minicamp session, but said he expects to be ready to play when the Panthers report to training camp on July 30 in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Rivera wouldn't say how many pounds overweight Benjamin was this offseason.

Benjamin returned to practice last week to participate in some OTA work after straining his left hamstring. He appeared ready to go on Tuesday at minicamp before his other hamstring stiffened up on him in the 98-degree heat. He wore a bucket hat on Wednesday as his teammates ran through drills without him.

Benjamin called the experience ''frustrating.''

''I want to get back out there so bad to be with the guys, but everyone keeps telling me, `Be patient, be patient,''' Benjamin said.

Benjamin said he's not sure what to do differently to avoid the issues in the future. The team will look closely at his diet and the amount of fluids he's drinking.

For now, he said the best medicine is rest.

''When your body is tired, your body is tired - and you have to listen to it,'' Benjamin said.

Benjamin isn't worried about the missed time affecting his chemistry with quarterback Cam Newton.

The duo formed a great rapport last season despite Newton missing nearly all of the offseason workouts following ankle surgery. Newton returned in training camp last summer and Benjamin quickly developed into his No. 1 receiver.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season last year out of Florida State.

''We'll pick it up over this summer break,'' Benjamin said of working with Newton.

Rivera said Benjamin is doing everything possible to get back on the field.

''He was in early getting treatment and doing the things he needs to,'' Rivera said. ''He gets it and he understands it. He's very important what we want to do on the offensive side because he creates matchup problems.''

In other injury news, Rivera revealed that reserve guard Tyrone Green tore his Achilles on Tuesday and will be heading to injured reserve.

The Panthers were still without defensive end Charles Johnson and Frank Alexander, who are battling groin injuries. Rivera said those injuries aren't considered serious and they could return to work on Thursday.

NOTES: There were two fights in the blazing heat of a midway practice Wednesday, including one in which veteran left tackle Michael Oher and second-year defensive end Kony Ealy exchanged punches. Rivera said he was disappointed and said it was a case of ''the young bear poking at the old bear.'' ... The Panthers signed guard Ricky Henry and waived center Ronald Patrick. Henry entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 2011. He has spent time with Bears, Saints and Chiefs.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.