Arrelious Benn was happy to get out of Tampa

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Arrelious Benn was happy to get out of Tampa

When most players are asked to describe their reaction to a trade, most say they were surprised.

Arrelious Benn wasn't.

The Eagles last week acquired Benn from Tampa Bay and on Thursday signed the fourth-year wide receiver to a one-year extension through 2014. The 39th overall pick of the 2010 draft, Benn is still waiting to meet the expectations that come with being a second-round pick.

And he knew it wasn't going to happen in Tampa. So when he heard about the trade, Benn was pleased.

"I was excited," he said. "I'm from D.C. Quick ride up the street."

But that's not really why he was excited.

"I wanted to move forward," he said. "I didn't want to be there."

And the feeling was mutual.

"I was expecting [to be on a new team]," he said.

"I just needed a change of scenery. I just needed a fresh start. The situation just wasn't going right."

Benn started nine of 14 games played as a rookie with the Buccaneers, recording 25 catches for 395 yards and two scores. He started all 14 games he played in 2011, but his production increased only moderately -- 30 for 441 and three.

Last season he had four receptions for 26 yards in eight game (one start) before being placed on injured reserve because of knee and shoulder injuries. Or maybe there was more to it.

"My shoulder wasn't an issue," he said. "My knee really wasn't an issue, but things need to be done. I ended up on I.R. I took it. I'm bouncing back."

That said, Benn doesn't deny that injuries have been an issue for him. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 16 of his rookie season, a concussion in 2011 and a sprained MCL last year in training camp.

Regardless of whether he should have been on I.R. or not last year, he blames injuries for his unfulfilled potential.  

"To be honest with you, I don't like my career. I've got to stay healthy," he said. "I've had a problem with injuries. When I was healthy out there, I made plays. I was consistent. The big thing for me is to stay healthy. It's no secret. I know that. I'm going to be honest with myself and just come in here and do what I've got to do. The old [way] wasn't working, so I'm finding new ways to stay healthy -- doing the little things that I've got to do."

Like what?

"Maybe not being so physical -- the little things that I do," the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Benn said. "Go down sometimes. That's pretty much it."

But being physical is a key part of his game.

"Get the ball in my hands, [I'm] a guy that can run after the catch," he said.

Which makes him a candidate to not only play outside -- where he's normally played -- but also in the slot.

"I think I have the skill set to play both," he said. "I think I'm a mismatch in the slot with my speed and size."

That makes him an attractive red zone option, which the Eagles have sorely lacked. They've also lacked a prolific kick returner. Benn can do that, too. Last season he returned 13 kickoffs for 306 yards (average of 23.5) with a long of 55.

But the only way he'll be able to do any of those things is if he stays healthy.

"Injuries were the thing [last year]. That's the past," he said. "I really don't even care too much about it. I'm looking forward. I'm an Eagle now."

And he's healthy:

"I'm as healthy as healthy can be."

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”