FSU notes: Benjamin, Shaw sit out

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State was down two receivers for Tuesday's practice, but Jimbo Fisher said he expects Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw to return to action within the next day or two.

The two receivers, who also happen to be roommates, missed Tuesday's full-pad workouts with an illness, though Fisher said both were showing signs of improvement by Tuesday afternoon.

"They both got the bug together, but it's about run its course," Fisher said. "We thought it'd be better to hold them [Tuesday] and they'll be back [Wednesday]."

Shaw and Benjamin have both figured heavily into the Florida State passing game this season, ranking first and second, respectively, in receiving yards, while combining for six of the team's 15 receiving touchdowns.

Shaw's 77-yard touchdown grab opened the scoring against Boston College last week, while Benjamin has been EJ Manuel's top deep threat in the past two games. Benjamin has caught seven passes for 116 yards in the past two weeks, but his numbers could have been even better. Manuel has targeted him on a number of deep balls that just missed turning into big plays, including two that were reviewed by booth officials.

The first was a leaping grab along the sideline against NC State that was ruled incomplete after the ball bounced free when Benjamin hit the ground. Fisher said he thought the catch was good, but the ruling was not overturned on replay.

In last week's game, Benjamin made a spectacular one-handed grab of a ball Manuel slightly overthrew. As he fell toward the ground, the ball sprung loose, was tipped by the defender, grazed the ground and landed back in Benjamin's grasp.

Fisher said Benjamin has made that catch numerous times in practice, and he said the redshirt freshman is getting closer to turning those practice-field highlights into consistent game-day production.

"He’s becoming more dependable; more consistent in his routes," Fisher said. "He’s getting to the spots a lot cleaner. You can trust him to get there."

Freshmen impact: Fisher raved about the improvements made by freshmen Mario Edwards Jr. and Ronald Darby since fall camp.

Darby has been a regular contributor as the No. 3 cornerback since opening week, and while Nick Waisome has held onto the starting job, Darby's play continues to improve. Against BC last week, Darby had two tackles, a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a QB hurry.

"He's playing great," Fisher said. "He's very competitive. He's gotten a lot from the beginning, but he's a very good player and doing a nice job."

Edwards path to regular playing time hasn't been quite as simple.

The consensus No. 1 recruit last year was slated to redshirt this season, but those plans changed when senior Brandon Jenkins went down with a foot injury. Edwards arrived at FSU weighing nearly 300 pounds, but Fisher said the freshman defensive end has slimmed down greatly, and he's increased his playing time each week. He saw action early against BC and is battling Giorgio Newberry for the role of FSU's No. 3 defensive end.

"He's ready," Fisher said. "He's playing very well, his weight's down, he's more physical in the run [game]. We've got to keep getting those reps up."

Moving on: The cloud of Florida State's loss to NC State hung over the team all of last week, but with an easy win over BC to provide a buffer, Lamarcus Joyner said the Seminoles aren't even thinking about what happened in Raleigh, N.C.

"You say we had our slip-up a few weeks ago, but we call that last season," Joyner said. "That was the greatest thing that could've happened to us because we'll never underestimate our opponent."