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Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett maturing

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- A fresh start and a renewed focus, combined with lessons learned, have created a perfect storm that has allowed new Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett to thrive in the early going.

Bennett, who signed a four-year deal with the Bears this past offseason, already has 10 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns in two games, including the game-winning score in Sunday’s 31-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Martellus Bennett
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett has 10 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns this season.
After playing four seasons in Dallas and last season with the New York Giants, the Texas A&M product said Monday that only now does he have all the tools needed to have true, sustained success at the NFL level.

“Being behind [tight end Jason] Witten [in Dallas], I learned a whole lot of stuff I didn’t even realize I was learning because I watched and took notes on every single thing he was doing but really didn’t have a chance to use it,” said Bennett, who was a guest Monday on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show.”

“Going to New York, I had a chance to take three-year deals in different places, but I decided to bet on myself and take the one-year deal because I felt like I was worth more than they were offering me.”

With the Giants, he hooked up with tight end coach Michael Pope and delivered his best season, with 55 receptions for 626 yards and 5 touchdowns. Calling himself “a sponge” over the past couple of seasons because of all the learning he was doing, he is now unleashing that knowledge.

“I’m really starting to understand what goes in to playing football,” Bennett said. “A lot of times, I used to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. I’m involved in a lot of things, and when things don’t go your way on the field, you can easily put more into those other things you’re interested in.”

He now says he has understanding of how to prioritize outside interests to go along with football, while also learning the benefits of eating right.

“Today’s my day when I can have a Shirley Temple and I can eat chicken tenders and french fries,” Bennett said. “Tuesday is back to healthy. I can have a piece of cake right now, but then it goes back to my regular routine. So I develop a routine with my study habits and listening. I think my listening skills have improved. My wife would probably agree. My listening skills are off the radar right now, so I’ve become a great listener and not a talker.”

Bennett has always been known for his gift of gab, but it’s all about his play on the field now. His friendship with wide receiver Brandon Marshall hasn’t hurt things.

“Yeah, it’s fun,” Cutler said. “They kind of push each other out there. We all can’t be on every single day, so it’s between us two and [Marshall, Matt Forte], Alshon [Jeffery], Earl [Bennett]. All of us are in this thing together. We have to have all those guys going.

“I can’t run around without those guys. I need them at full speed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They’re all pushing each other trying to get better and better. It’s a really good group. I think any quarterback in the league would like to have the horses I have on the outside.”