TAMPA — Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner has seen enough tape of former Florida State standout Kelvin Benjamin to know Tampa Bay’s secondary faces a big challenge in Sunday’s season opener.
The Panthers drafted Benjamin in the first round after the 6-foot-5 wide receiver helped the Seminoles to a national championship with 54 receptions for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns, tying the school record.
At 5-foot-10, Verner gives up seven inches to Benjamin, who caught the game-winning 2-yard TD pass with only 13 seconds remaining in the BCS championship game against Auburn.
“He’s looked really good,’’ Verner said of Benjamin, who led Carolina with 12 receptions for 173 yards and a score in the preseason. “He’s made a lot of plays and he’s somebody we have to look out for. He uses his body well and what I was most impressed by was his catching ability. Tight windows, open windows ... I didn’t see him drop many passes.’’
Benjamin is expected to play a prominent role in Cam Newton’s passing attack following the departure of veteran wide receiver Steve Smith, who signed with Baltimore as a free agent.
“We’re going to have to be real physical with him,’’ Verner said.