Martellus Bennett irked by praise heaped on one-dimensional TEs

ByJeff Dickerson via ESPN logo
Monday, November 16, 2015

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett took issue Thursday with the praise heaped on the NFL's one-dimensional, pass-catching tight ends.

"You see Jimmy [Graham]. Jimmy can't block worth s---," Bennett said. "They get a lot of credit and a lot of love. But Julius Thomas doesn't block anybody. Antonio Gates doesn't really block anybody. But they do a great job in the passing game. It all depends on the system that they're in."

Bennett, who led NFL tight ends with 90 receptions in 2014, said he's required to play a dual role in the Bears' offense.

"I have to kick ass at the line of scrimmage and kick ass down the field," Bennett said. "Those guys are pass-catching tight ends, and they get that freedom to run down the field. Nobody is asking them to pass protect or be one-on-one with the No. 1 pass-rusher."

Bennett said he does appreciate the freedom Gates enjoys in the San Diego Chargers offense. The Bears (2-5) travel to San Diego in Week 9 to face the Chargers (2-6) on Monday Night Football.

"I always loved Gates," Bennett said. "I've watched Gates since I was younger. We talk here and there in the offseason. I watch his tape to see if I can learn anything from him, but you really can't because his chemistry with Philip Rivers is so good that he has much more freedom in the offseason than most tight ends would have. So he's able to do a lot of different things -- the way he runs his routes and Philip knows those types of things -- and he has a lot of freedom in the offense. I really don't have that kind of freedom that he has to get open like that.

"He's their No. 1 target. I'm like third or fourth. That's the way it's been my whole career; even last year and the year before that. But I still make plays."

Bennett is trying to stay upbeat despite a lack of production in recent weeks. The 2014 Pro Bowl selection ranks seventh among tight ends with 37 receptions, but he caught just three balls for 43 yards in Chicago's loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Bennett has a combined 13 catches over the past three weeks.

"I have a lot of responsibilities in the offense," Bennett said. "You guys have to talk to Jay Cutler and [offensive coordinator] Adam Gase about [if my role has changed in recent weeks]. I'm just trying to be a really good employee. That's all. I'm not really tripping. Whatever they ask me to do is what I do. At some point they have to come my way, but until they do there is nothing I can do about it. I'm open, so.

"[I don't want to] be a bad employee. I just keep my head down and go to work. Because when you say something you become the a--h--- even if it's a valid point. So I just avoid drama. They don't pay the a--h----. At this point I just want to be a really good employee."

Bennett skipped the Bears' voluntary offseason program over a contract dispute. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.09 million next season before reaching free agency in 2017.