The Bucs’ starting receiver position opposite rookie Mike Williams isn’t going to be a hot spot for production. You’re not going to want the winner on your fantasy team, and the player who emerges as a first-stringer in Week One may not have a long leash as the season progresses.
But this is a job No. 39 overall pick Arrelious Benn was supposed to claim. The current leader is veteran Maurice Stovall, according to Bucs wide receivers coach Eric Yarber.
“Right now [Stovall] is running with the 1s,” Yarber told the Tampa Tribune. “He’s having a real good camp. I like his work ethic, his range, and the way he gets in and out of his breaks. And I really like his mental approach. Everything he does is just so professional.”
Through four NFL seasons, Stovall has amassed just 44 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns in 44 appearances, with ten starts. His biggest impact has come on special teams. Stovall’s placement with the first team is an indictment of the slowness with which Benn has developed in his first camp.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Benn “has been slow to learn the offense” and therefore is unable to practice at full speed. Benn also battled ankle problems in the spring after being nagged by an ankle injury at Illinois last season.
It’s too soon to call Benn a bust, but by all accounts, he is struggling.
If Stovall wins the first-team flanker job with Williams at split end and Sammie Stroughter in the slot, Benn could begin his rookie year as a fourth receiver. And he’s still got Reggie Brown, Michael Clayton, and special teamer Micheal Spurlock to beat out just to do that.