Sibling rivalry at MetLife on Sunday

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
4:51
PM ET
Martellus Bennett, and Michael BennettGetty ImagesMartellus Bennett and Michael Bennett face off Sunday in The Bennett Bowl.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants versus Buccaneers isn't the only game taking place Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

You'll also get to watch the Bennett Bowl.

Giants tight end Martellus Bennett and Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett are brothers, born just 14 months apart, and will both start for their respective teams this weekend. Better yet, they'll almost certainly be lined up against one other on a bunch of plays, too.

"We’re super, super close, and we pretty much do everything together," Martellus said Wednesday.

"Some people think we’re twins, although I think I look a lot better than him," he added, laughing.

Martellus has been making teammates and reporters laugh ever since he signed with the Giants as a free agent this past spring. With his quirky sense of humor, he's liable to say just about anything. (On Wednesday, he also shared with reporters that the first thing he does every morning -- even before he brushes his teeth -- is lift up his shirt and look in the mirror, to make sure his six-pack abs are still there.)

But Martellus' performance on the field this season is no laughing matter for the Giants, who are counting on him to produce as their starting tight end. So far, so good -- he had four catches for 40 yards, including a touchdown, in the regular season opener against the Cowboys.

"I think Martellus has done a good job. He's worked hard, trying to learn this offense and understand. He is a talented guy, he makes plays," quarterback Eli Manning said Wednesday. "I think he'll grow and get better with every game. He is athletic, he is smart, he wants to come in and play well and have a big season."

To have a big game against the Bucs, Martellus will have to keep his older brother away from Manning. Michael starts at left defensive end for Tampa Bay, meaning Martellus will surely be charged with blocking his sibling on several snaps.

It could have happened last year, when Martellus was a member of the Cowboys, and Dallas took on Tampa Bay. But Martellus, who was a backup at that time, switched with starting tight end Jason Witten to avoid having to go up against his brother.

"I didn’t want to have to go against him. I go hard, I play extremely hard. And you don’t want to be the guy who hurts your brother," Martellus said. "But this week, I just told [Michael], 'Hey, you gotta suck it up. We just gotta go at each other, it’ll be fun, and we’ll just see who comes out on top.'"

The Bennetts both played their college ball at Texas A&M. Martellus was the more heralded collegian, leaving school early and being drafted by the Cowboys in the second round in 2008. Michael went undrafted in 2009, but quickly signed with the Seahawks as a free agent.

But both may be coming into their own here in 2012. Martellus has earned the starting job in his first season with the Giants. And Michael, who moved on to Tampa Bay after one season in Seattle, started 10 games for the Bucs last season (with four sacks), and then had a sack and a forced fumble in their season-opening win over the Panthers last week.

On Sunday, the two Bennetts will be on opposite sides of the ball -- but right where they want to be.

"There’s a lot of things that we both want to accomplish in life, and I think this is one of our first dreams that’s coming true," Martellus said. "He’s starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I’m here starting for the New York football Giants. It doesn’t get much better than that for the Bennett family."
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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