Arrelious Benn enjoyed his D.C. homecoming quite a bit this past Sunday. The NFL seems to have enjoyed the show, as well.
On Tuesday, the league made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver one of its five nominees for the Rookie of the Week Award for Week 14. This is the first such nomination for Benn, one of two players the Buccaneers selected in the second round of the 2010 draft. It is far from the Buccaneers' first ROTW bid in 2010, however; in fact, the Buccaneers have drawn more nominations than any team in the NFL by a wide margin.
A former prep star at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., Benn helped the Buccaneers defeat the Washington Redskins 17-16 with the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. Playing against the team he rooted for as a child, Benn caught four passes for 122 yards and added 17 yards on a single carry.
Benn's exploits included a 64-yard fly down the right sideline in the second quarter that led to the Buccaneers' first points, a 25-yard Connor Barth field goal. He also made a diving catch of a 43-yard pass in the fourth quarter, with his team trailing by one point, to give the Buccaneers a first down at Washington's one-yard line. Though a fumble would kill that scoring opportunity on the next play, the Buccaneers still maintained a field position advantage and eventually scored the winning touchdown later in the period. Benn's 17-yard end-around in the third quarter also started a Buccaneer field goal drive.
Benn's output against the Redskins marked his season highs in both catches and receptions. A late-season surge has seen him rise to fifth on the Buccaneers' receiving charts with 21 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns.
The Rookie of the Week for Week 14 will be decided by fan voting on NFL.com. Benn is competing against New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, Buffalo linebacker Arthur Moats, San Diego RB Ryan Mathews and Arizona quarterback John Skelton.
Click here to visit the Rookie of the Week page on NFL.com and cast your vote. On the voting page, the NFL helps you make your decision by providing video of each rookie's performance. Balloting began on Tuesday and will continue through noon ET on Friday.
While on NFL.com, fans can also vote for quarterback Josh Freeman, who has been nominated for the Never Say Never Moment of the Week in the NFL. Freeman's nomination was the result of his 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Winslow in the fourth quarter at FedExField. That helped the Bucs pull off their seventh fourth-quarter come-from-behind victory in Freeman's 22 NFL starts.
Freeman's competitors for the Never Say Never Moment award are San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith and Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones Drew.
The Buccaneers avalanche of ROTW nominations in 2010 continues. Through just 13 games played, Buccaneer rookies have drawn 11 nominations (no more than one rookie from each team is nominated each week). The next closest teams in terms of total bids are Kansas City and New England, each of which has had six.
Benn is also the fifth different Buccaneer to be nominated, joining Mike Williams (five nominations), LeGarrette Blount (3), Cody Grimm (1) and Gerald McCoy (1). Tampa Bay has had more players nominated for a Rookie of the Week award this season than any other team in the NFL. New England is second with four.