Early in the second quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Week Six matchup with the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Josh Freeman launched a deep pass over the middle of the field towards a streaking Arrelious Benn.
Using his underrated speed, Benn had beaten his defender and slashed diagonally to his right on a deep route that began from the left side of the Bucs' formation. After making the catch and regaining his footing after a brief stumble, he stiff-armed the last Saints defender and muscled his way across the goal line, punching in the 65-yard pass for a touchdown and the longest catch of his young career.
It is this type of skillful, explosive play that Head Coach Raheem Morris and the Bucs are hoping to get more of from Benn, not only as they prepare to play the same Saints team again on Sunday, but throughout the remainder of the 2011 campaign.
"He's certainly a big part of our team," Morris said of Benn. "He's certainly someone we've got to get going a little bit more. He's certainly one our explosive players. You look at our explosive players this year, and he's probably a part of most of them, and there's a reason. He's big. He's strong. He's fast. He's physical. He makes plays down the field, and he loves football and is competitive.
"He's one of those guys who we've got to get more involved in our offense. We've been trying. We're throwing screens to him and reverses. We've been doing a bunch of everything with him, but we've got to get the ball down the field so he can make plays with his catching ability and his speed."
That certainly sounds like an encouraging point of view for any young player trying to carve out a role in the NFL. However, when asked about his head coach's desire to get him the ball more and help him create game-changing plays, Benn wasn't exactly bowled over with excitement.
Not that the second-year receiver isn't pleased at the thought of getting an increased opportunity to highlight his skills, it's just that his work ethic and high standards for himself won't change a bit due to any specific game plan.
"You can always increase your chances by keeping on working and knowing what's going on out there," Benn said. "But I'm not surprised about anything as far as what I need to do. I always need to work. The play-calling is great, my opportunities are great, and I cash in my opportunities when they present themselves.
"I think the coaches are great and I instill their confidence. As long as I keep showing what I can do and I know what I'm doing as far as my assignment in practice, they're going to be more comfortable to throw me some plays out there. They're great with that, and I know they're going to do the right thing. Like I said, I love my coaches and Coach [Greg] Olsen he's a great play caller. He couldn't be better…it's on us. We've just got to execute as a team."
For Benn, the issue is not only the short-term boost he can provide for the offense but the potential for future gains. Paired with a quarterback, Josh Freeman, whose NFL career is also in its infancy, Benn has the chance to develop a fruitful long-term relationship with the man tasked with throwing him the ball.
"We're still growing in chemistry," Benn said. "We have a great chemistry, but it's still growing. We're young, and we're going to keep growing. He's still growing in trust in me. That's what a quarterback is supposed to do, to show that he can trust me to throw me the ball and keep making plays."
Making big plays is what will get Benn on the nightly highlight shows and his name in the paper, but make no mistake – he's far from an attention hound. Wide receivers have other tasks aside from making catches that while slightly less glamorous are still extremely important to a team's success. Whether it's making a block that springs a running back for a huge gain or running hard on a decoy route that leaves a fellow wideout open to make a grab, Benn says he's been doing his best to make an impact so far in 2011 – even if it hasn't necessarily shown up in the stat sheet.
"I've definitely been trying to do things to help the team win," Benn said. "As far as me blocking, being out there and being a threat, whatever I need to be for the offense, that's what I'm going to be."
And speaking of stats, while his numbers may certainly increase as the Bucs try to get him the ball more often as the team heads into the second half of the season, Benn won't judge success based on statistics alone.
"This is overdrive for us," Benn said. "Every week, every day we're going to put in overtime as far as what we need to do in every unit, every phase of the game.
"All I care about is winning. Stats are for losers. I don't care about stats. I don't believe anyone else in this team cares about stats. All we care about is Ws. As long as we win, that's all that matters."