Martellus Bennett: Cowboys wanted me to be Jason Witten

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
8:30
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IRVING, Texas -- Former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett went on "ROME" on Thursday night for a wide-ranging interview with host Jim Rome.

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Bennett, who now plays for the New York Giants, said he couldn't become something the Cowboys wanted him to be: Jason Witten.

"A lot of times in the past I felt like people tried to change who I was," Bennett said. "Everybody loved Witten so much. I thought they wanted me to be exactly like him. But that wasn’t my game. There are a lot of things Witten does well. And there are a lot of things that I do well that he doesn’t do. I think they loved that model of a tight end that they tried to pressure me to be exactly like him. And when I wasn’t, I think it kind of hindered our relationship."

Bennett said the Giants "let me be myself and let me come into my own."

In four seasons with Dallas, Bennett, a former second-round pick, scored just four touchdowns, all coming in his rookie season. The 2011 season was his worst. He had 17 catches for a career-low 144 yards.

With the Giants, Bennett has 20 catches for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He caught a touchdown pass against his former team in the season opener.

Bennett hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3 and has battled some injuries. Still it's interesting to see Bennett with better numbers in New York than Dallas. With the Cowboys, Witten was the primary tight end and Bennett the backup. While Witten was more accomplished and considered an elite player at his position, Bennett was considered the best blocking tight end on the team, but his inability make plays on a consistent basis when given the opportunities hampered his development.

In New York, Bennett has jumped into the lead role as the top tight end and he's become a dependable target for quarterback Eli Manning.

"Me and Eli are a lot closer than I was with (Tony) Romo," Bennett said. "I think Romo is a great quarterback. And I think he’s done some great things for the Cowboys. But I just think his relationship with Witten is one of those special things they were able to build. Being here, I’ve just been trying to build the same thing with Eli. And I think I’ve had the chance to build and grow into that role instead of being the guy that’s going to be second hand in the relationship. It’s kind of like somebody who is dating two women. One woman is going to get more attention than the other."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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