Showcasing his trademark speed, Travis Benjamin was in the clear by a few steps, blowing past the defender with ease as the ball began its descent into his arms.
Fans at StubHub Center rose to their feet as a surefire touchdown awaited…only, the ball bounced off the wide receiver’s hands.
This was the scene a week ago when the Chargers faced the Rams in a joint practice. It marked a rare mistake for the veteran wideout, who has been an early star of Chargers Camp.
Benjamin maintains he moved past the miscue, focusing on the positives of an encouraging start to his 2017 campaign. After being slowed by injuries during his first year with the Bolts, the explosive playmaker entered camp singularly focused to show what he can now that he’s fully healthy. He’s done just that, routinely making highlight reel grabs each practice.
Still, dropping that pass against the Rams gnawed at Benjamin, who vowed to atone for it the next time he had the opportunity.
Boy did he ever.
In the preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks, Benjamin electrified StubHub Center with a 74-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. The TD strike was the third longest of this year’s preseason. Combined with a clutch 15-yard snare on 3rd-and-9 earlier in the game, Benjamin finished with 89 yards, which were the most in a preseason game by a Charger since Dontrelle Inman in 2014 (107).
“That felt very good to do it in a game,” he said, flashing a wide grin. “All the work I put in this offseason to come back healthy, it meant a lot (to have that touchdown). I’m just getting my feet under myself, doing what I do, which is scoring touchdowns. Whiz called a great play from the sideline, and once we saw the coverage, there was no doubt about it. When I saw I had a linebacker on me, I gave the eyes to Kellen (Clemens) and he put it up for me.”
Benjamin chuckles when reminded of his drop a week earlier, admitting it was on his mind after his long touchdown.
“I put it in the past, and said to myself, I got the drop out of the way. Knowing it came when it was just practice, to me, I got it out of the way. Drops happen, but it’s good it happened in practice. So I’ll continue to move forward and try to catch every ball. It was very satisfying though to know the last time I was here, I had that bad taste. So I erased that memory. When I think of this stadium again, I’ll think of this long touchdown pass.”
It’s worthwhile nothing that Benjamin’s touchdown came immediately after the offense surrendered their lead with a pick-six. On their very next snap, Kellen Clemens hit the speedster in stride, giving momentum back to the Bolts in a flash.
“That’s a big swing for us. We know mistakes happen in games, and we want to limit those turnovers. But to show we can score like that in a blink of an eye, it’s real big for our offense.”