This is about as much bad blood as you’ll see in pre-season.
CAROLINA PANTHERS QUARTERBACK Cam Newton and former teammate Kelvin Benjamin had an awkward reunion before Thursday night’s pre-season game, after Benjamin publicly criticized his former quarterback.
“If you would’ve put me with any other quarterback, let’s be real, you know what I’m saying?” Benjamin told Tim Graham of The Athletic in an interview last week.
“Any other accurate quarterback like Rodgers or Eli Manning or Big Ben — anybody! — quarterbacks with knowledge, that know how to place a ball and give you a better chance to catch the ball. It just felt like I wasn’t in that position.”
Newton has not said much publicly about Benjamin’s comments. But he appeared to be upset with Benjamin, based on video of the pair’s encounter before the Panthers’ 28-23 win over the Bills on Thursday night.
Video from the Charlotte Observer showed Newton attempting to talk to Benjamin, who did not seem up for talking. As Benjamin walked away, Newton followed him, continuing to talk, before going his own direction without much in the way of a goodbye.
Benjamin was the Panthers’ first-round draft pick in 2014. Initially, he and Newton looked to have a good connection on the field, and were also known to be close friends off of it.
But an ACL tear forced Benjamin to miss the entire 2015 season, and he was never really able to make good on the promise he displayed as a rookie after that, ultimately getting traded to the Buffalo Bills midway through the 2017 season.
Newton, for his part, seemed pretty accurate and knowledgeable when Benjamin was out in 2015, winning the NFL MVP award and leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance.
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