Bennett's smiles turn to snarls
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Martellus Bennettm left and Jermon Bushrod display their Bears jerseys earlier this year.
Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer
BOURBONNAIS — At lunch Friday, tight end Martellus Bennett insisted he was a happy man.
"Even when I'm sick I'm happy," he said. "I can't help it. I was reading something one time and it's like your demeanor throughout the day when you wake up in the morning is your choice. So I have the choice every morning. I could be in a slump or be happy. I just choose to be happy because it's so much easier, and when you smile, you don't wrinkle as fast.
"I'm thinking about tomorrow, today, so when I'm 40, I'm going to have the same pretty face. I just like to be happy all the time. Even when I'm in meetings I'm happy and smiling. It could be 10 o'clock at night and I'm still smiling."
But a few hours later at practice, he wasn't smiling. He was brawling — repeatedly.
It seemed Bennett wanted to fight the entire secondary. Friday's practice may have been the chippiest in 12 years at Olivet Nazarene University.
It started when Bennett rag-dolled safety Major Wright to the ground during a blocking drill. Fellow safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz tried to intercede and were dispatched by Bennett.
A short while later, Bennett got into it with Kelvin Hayden and clearly threw a punch at the cornerback, although he denied it later. That altercation led to a sideline-emptying scrum. On the very next play, safety Anthony Walters gave rookie wide receiver Marquess Wilson a shot over the middle and coach Marc Trestman gave everyone a timeout, temporarily stopping practice.
"Just to cut it," Conte said. "Just to talk to everybody and get everybody under cool heads and just get back and get focused on practice. It really wasn't anything big. It just shows that we're competing and we're getting better."
Trestman wrote it off to boys being boys and football being football.
"It's going to happen in a game where somebody's going to lose their mind," he said after practice. "When one guy does, it's not who he is, he just lost his composure for a minute. The team's gotta bring him along, and I thought the team did a very good job of pushing through practice and not lowering the effort, but actually the effort was raised and we finished with a very clean practice."
But only after one more altercation involving Bennett and Wright that had to be broken up by teammates.
"I'm actually a mean person," Bennett said with no trace of the lunchtime smile and happy talk. "I know y'all think I joke around all the time and (stuff), but I'm not, I don't. I'm a very aggressive person. If they're aggressive with me, I'm aggressive with them.
"You come hard at me, I come hard at you. It's all day, so I don't back down from anything or anyone. I never have. It's just the way I play. It started feeling like a game; there was tackling, so I turned into game mode."
Wright didn't elaborate much about the scraps but didn't seem too concerned.
"It's just football," he said. "You're going to have days like that. It gets everybody riled up. It gets everybody going. Even if you were not having a good day, that kind of gets you going. Overall, today was a good day other than that little scuffle we got into. But that happens for teams. We'll move on and get better."
Despite the repeated interruptions, Trestman had praise for Bennett after practice.
"He has been exemplary," the coach said. "He's turning into one of the leaders of our team. He stood up at the end of practice and handled himself with great dignity and showed his teammates a lot of respect.
"They see how much he loves this game and what he can do for our football team. He's done a great job on and off the field. Those moments happen. The players aren't going to let it linger. We're going to move on. They're going to have dinner tonight, and we're going to practice and knock it around tomorrow a little bit and try to get better again."
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