It’s been a good spring and early summer for Arrelious Benn.
The 23-year-old wide receiver, who was originally chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, was dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles on March 15 and was given a contract extension through the 2014 season, assuring more job security than the three-year veteran could have expected from his former team.
A fresh start with a franchise that is undergoing a culture change may be just what the doctor ordered for only the fourth player in the history of the University of Illinois to amass 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
At first glance, Benn’s 6-foot-2, 202-pound frame gives the impression that he is a prototypical possession receiver who will push Jason Avant and could emerge as a red zone target in Chip Kelly‘s uptempo offense. However, that would be shortchanging Benn, who has shown himself to be a stout blocker, which should lead to even more playing time as the Eagles likely will recommit to the running game for the first time in nearly a decade and a half, this season.
“I embrace it. I use my size. If I didn’t, I would be a popcorn,” Benn said of his versatility. “I use my size to my ability, I use what I have to my ability and do it the best way I can.”
Additionally, Benn can contribute as a returner for a special teams unit that left much to be desired a year ago.
Clearly, this is a fresh start for a player who has battled injuries and missed all but 11 of a possible 48 games for the Buccaneers so far in his career.
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like my career (so far),” he explained earlier this spring. “I’ve got to stay healthy. I haven’t stayed healthy. And when I was healthy and out there, I made plays, and I was consistent.”
With Jeremy Maclin in a contract year and DeSean Jackson facing a season that could define whether or not he is an Eagle in 2014, Benn could push Jason Avant for playing time this season and has the opportunity to flourish in Kelly’s system which places much value on receivers who can block as well as haul in big receptions.
A change of scenery has led to a successful spring, but it remains to be seen once training camp opens in July if Benn can finally reach the potential of being a second-round draft choice or even surpass those early career expectations.
Matt Lombardo is also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.
* All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.