- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- As Martellus Bennett finished getting dressed, he put a nice watch on his left wrist as a finishing touch to his outfit.
"I don't try to hide money," Bennett said with a smile.
On Wednesday, Bennett hopes to show the New York Giants and his old team, the Dallas Cowboys, that he is money on the field as a full-time starter for the first time in his pro career. After spending his first four years playing behind All-Pro Jason Witten, Bennett is ready to break out.
"I think it's been a long time coming and I'm super excited about that more so than just playing against the Cowboys," Bennett said. "I'm super excited to show who I am and the player I've always been that I never got a chance to show.
"Sometimes the great books are covered up by the bad books," he continued. "So, you know, somebody finally gets to take this great book off the shelf."
The Giants are certainly hoping Bennett realizes his massive potential with Eli Manning. The former basketball player has long been known for having a personality bigger than his 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame, which he has likened to "Atlas" in the preseason.
Bennett is engaging and funny and can talk about any topic. But he wants to be known for more than being the tall and hilarious guy in the locker room.
"Like Will Smith from 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,'" Bennett said. "End of the day, Will Smith got [stuff] done. I look up to the guy like that. I can't help who I am. This is just who I am but who I really want to show -- and not being funny -- I just want to show being a dominant football player.
"I mean, the funny [stuff] is cool," Bennett continued. "But it's not what I am here for. I am here to make big plays. I ain't really here to tell jokes. I just happen to have a weird sense of humor."
His sense of humor has led to the best quotes of the summer in Giants camp. From nicknaming himself "The Black Unicorn" for being a rare tight end with athleticism, hands and size who can block and run routes, to mentioning Gandhi when talking about how he studied himself in the offseason, Bennett is never at a loss for words.
On Saturday, Bennett was talking about his relationship with Manning and how developing a special rapport with his new quarterback has been like courting a girl.
Bennett says he texts back and forth with Manning quite a bit and if he sees Manning eating in the cafeteria, he will pull up a chair to sit next to the quarterback to even sometimes talk about "life."
"Sometimes I just text him to say, 'Hey, I am happy to be your teammate,'" Bennett said. "I know some guys get text messages from me, and they say like, what the hell is he doing? It's like six o'clock in the morning and he is texting me saying, 'Hey, what's up?'
"I want [Manning] to be able to read my mind and my body language," Bennett added. "It's like having a new girlfriend. You want to go to dinner dates to get to know her better and have a good conversation with her."
Bennett said he's thankful Manning texts him back.
"Sometimes, you try to date somebody and you text her, 'Hey babe, what are you doing today?'" Bennett explained. "She'll text you back [something short] and you get kind of sad and you're like, 'Damn, did I do something wrong?' He usually texts me back something sentimental and powerful. We got a good relationship, and it's only grown."
Bennett credited his mentor, Witten, with teaching him the benefit of having a strong relationship with the quarterback, among other things.
"Witten is [Romo's] best friend, so I learned something from that relationship and I'll try to be this guy's [Manning] best friend," Bennett said. "The tight end should always be the quarterback's best friend."
Another thing Bennett said he learned from Witten was playing and practicing through pain. Witten's status for Wednesday is up in the air due to a lacerated spleen, although the tight end was able to participate in some of Saturday's practice.
"Witten is a guy who never missed a game or a practice when I was there," Bennett said. "So the day I'm not there he's [possibly] out for the first game, which is very ironic. [But] I wouldn't be surprised if he picked his spleen up and held it in his hand to try to run routes. He's a warrior.
"There are some things that he has in his game that I have in me, that are built in me," Bennett continued. "I don't ever want to miss games, I don't want to miss practice. I think all the guys see that in me and I learned it from Witten."
Bennett, 25, is eager to show what he can do out of Witten's shadow. He has never had more than 33 catches in a season, which came during 2010 when he started 11 games. He has scored four touchdowns in his career, but all came during his rookie season in 2008.
The Giants made Bennett a priority during free agency after Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum suffered torn ACL injuries during the Super Bowl. Manning does see potential for Bennett to do things in the Giants' offense.
"The tight end is capable of getting a lot of balls in this offense, and catching a lot of things," Manning said. "We pretty much have a tight end in on every set we have. If the defense is trying to take away Hakeem [Nicks] and Victor [Cruz], tight ends should have a lot of one-on-one matches on a linebacker.
"We're just looking for mismatches," Manning continued. "He's probably more athletic than some of the tight ends we've had getting in and out of breaks. He should be able to have some catches. I don't know how many he'll have."
At the start of training camp, Bennett said he wanted to beat Dallas badly and "kick those guys' asses."
But Bennett just wants to show his new team and new BFF, Manning, that he can be a "prototypical tight end" who can do it all on Wednesday night.
"This week is not really about me going against the Cowboys," Bennett said. "That part [Dallas] of my book is done, it's over. I've got new [stuff] to write about. And it's been great so far. I'm happy pretty much every single day, which is huge.
"I had some good memories there, but those memories are old now," Bennett added. "I'm not one to live in the past. I'm looking forward to the new memories that we get to start making Wednesday night. Hopefully it's some great stuff that goes down in history."