BOURBONNAIS — If Martellus Bennett plays half as well as he talks, the Bears will indeed have their best tight end since Mike Ditka.
Bennett had a 55-catch, breakout season last year with the Giants after playing his first four years in Dallas in the shadow of Cowboys stud tight end Jason Witten. But anyone with Bennett’s gift of gab who stands 6-foot-6, weighs 265 pounds and catches the ball like a wide receiver isn’t going to remain in the shadows very long.
Bennett will talk to anyone willing to listen, especially quarterback Jay Cutler, who is his target audience.
“I talk to him every single play,” Bennett said. “Communication is the biggest thing. It’s one thing I saw Tony Romo and Witten do a lot of, and that’s one thing I try to implement in my game with the quarterback.”
Given Cutler’s low tolerance for distractions, it’s easy to imagine Bennett getting on his nerves in a hurry.
But it’s evident the offense of coordinator Aaron Kromer and head coach Marc Trestman will include the tight end as an integral component, and Bennett has the talent to give Cutler the kind of production that Greg Olsen provided.
So Bennett’s constant chatter won’t fall on deaf ears. And Bennett will continue to talk to his quarterback.
“When we watch film, I sit right behind him, so I can whisper in his ear,” the 2008 second-round pick said with a big smile. “It sounds kind of creepy. But I sit right behind him so I can whisper in his ear and ask him, ‘Hey, is that what you wanted?’ And he’ll just give me a thumbs up. I know I probably get on his nerves because I’m always talking to him.
“Cutler gets up and walks away from me all the time. The quarterbacks always get up because I always start the crazy conversation. I’ll just be messing with them to see what they think.”
Even if Cutler wants to tune out his chatty tight end, Bennett has already developed a captive alternative audience among the media.
How can you ignore a guy who proclaims, “I’m probably the most interesting person on the team.”
Trestman has advocated team-building and chemistry, and he wants players to get to know all of their teammates, not just the ones that play the same position or are on the same side of the ball. Bennett’s all over that.
“That’s one thing that coach has been preaching, to get with a different guy every day and get to know your teammates,” he said. “Everyone’s new; the coaches are new. I talk trash to them all the time, but it’s fun. It’s like going to a new school.”
Trestman wants the camaraderie to extend to wives, kids and everyone involved in the Bears’ family. Bennett’s on board with that as well. And the way he sees it, who wouldn’t want to get to know him and his wife Siggi?
“Me and my wife are probably two of the coolest people in the world,” he said. “It’s like Jay Z and Beyonce, then it’s me and my wife, and then it’s David Beckham and Victoria.”
Bennett and his wife, a makeup artist, aren’t quite in the same lofty financial atmosphere as those other two power couples, but his four-year $20.4 million contract came with $9 million in guaranteed money. Bennett insists the financial windfall won’t adversely affect him as it has so many others.
“I don’t really play for the money,” he said. “I like driving nice cars, (having) a nice house. I like nice stuff. I like to dress nice mainly. But I’ve got to build a legacy not just on the field, but off the field, too.
“I want to have my kids — I don’t have any yet, thank God, the world’s probably happy about that — but really it’s about building a legacy, not just being a football player, but being a good person. I don’t want my kids to grow up and be like, ‘Oh, my dad ran fast down the seam.’ I want them to the see the life (away) from the field, an all-around person. I think getting paid gives you a couple avenues to make an impact. It’s a blessing, and a lot comes with that. It’s like the Spiderman quote, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’”
Informed that the quote originated from the bible, Bennett didn’t miss a beat.
“Jesus said it,” he said. “Peter Parker’s uncle said it. It’s been around for a long time.”
Bennett has a chance to be around Chicago for a long time if he builds on last season’s production that included 626 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns and a physical presence as a blocker in the run game.
He’s done his homework on previous Bears tight ends, including watching the NFL Network’s series “The Life Of,” that profiled Ditka.
What did Bennett take away from the documentary?
“I felt like he was a mean person,” he said, laughing. “But he was a spirited guy. He’s very passionate. The thing that you watch is the charisma and passion that he did everything (with), the way he was coaching, the way he approached the game and his love for the game is something a lot of us take for granted.
“I think earlier in my career I kind of took the game for granted.”
The way Bennett talks, that won’t happen again.
“The last two really good (Bears tight ends) were Ditka, and I thought Greg Olsen did a great job,” he said. “But I’m different from all those guys. I’m trying to make my own brand for the tight ends of the Chicago Bears.”
Talk is cheap, but Bennett has the ability to back it up.
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