TAMPA — Arrelious Benn hates to sit still, which as a slot receiver is a good thing because he's frequently in motion.
But when Benn suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee on the first day of training camp after a collision that also resulted in a broken foot for cornerback E.J. Biggers, it was hard to keep moving.
The rehab was slow and the digital clock mounted in the locker room by Greg Schiano counted down the days, hours and minutes until the season opener Sunday against Carolina.
"It got hard because I'd come in here in the morning and look at the clock and I'm sore one day and not the next," Benn said. "But it takes time. Time is all I needed."
The Bucs believe Benn will eventually begin fulfilling his promise as a second-round pick from Illinois in 2010.
The 6-foot-2 Benn has averaged only 27.5 receptions in his two seasons. But his 15.2-yard per catch average is respectable, especially considering he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament with one game remaining in 2010.
"We're fortunate a guy like Regis is a top-flight receiver, or is going to be, and yet is a really good team player," Schiano said. "He's a valuable guy, we need to get him back healthy. … Little by little, he's inching back so hopefully he can help us. I don't know. Is Week 1 going to be too soon? I don't know, we'll have to see."
Benn, who resumed practicing late last week, has no doubt.
"I definitely expect to play," Benn said of Sunday's game. "It's just a matter of me going out there and getting back into the flow of things and letting everything else fall in place.
"I feel confident in my body, so I'm pretty much good to go."
By all accounts, Benn has had an outstanding offseason. The workout warrior could not get into playing shape a year ago because of the NFL lockout and the limitations of recovering from a knee injury. Benn said he weighed 230 pounds a year ago and is down to 218.
"I came back in shape and felt confident in what I was doing," Benn said. "I was healthy for the first time. Then that happened, but it's all about how you come back from adversity. I'm not worried about anything else. Whatever people are going to say, I'm going to come out here and do my job."
Benn's job may include kickoff return duties, something he did at Illinois but not much as a pro. Aside from that, he'll have to earn time on an improved receiving corps that includes ex-Charger Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams and Preston Parker.
"Sometimes, I put a lot of pressure on myself," Benn said. "But at the same time, I've got to realize this is only my third year in the NFL. I've only been here two seasons. I've battled injuries, but I always fight through them and come back stronger."