BOSTON (AP) — Martellus Bennett didn’t think he’d play football again this season after his unexpected and contentious exit from the Green Bay Packers last week.
The way he tells it, he was contemplating taking a desk job or maybe even doing something with Netflix in the hours after he was cut by the Green Bay Packers for what they said was “failing to disclose a physical condition.”
“I was just sitting on a bean bag, literally feeling sorry for myself,” Bennett said of his disagreement with the Packers’ medical staff over a shoulder injury.
When the Packers decided to let him go, he had a decision to make. After having a few telephone conversations with Patriots coach Bill Belichick about the state of his shoulder, New England picked him up off waivers. Following some quick soul searching, Bennett decided to play through his injury.
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“It was one of those things I felt I should get fixed and then after deciding to get it fixed and getting waived, you’ve got that vengeance in your heart and you’re just like ‘All right, are you going to do it?’ OK, let’s go ball,” Bennett said.
Bennett said in a post Friday on Instagram that the Packers examined his shoulder when he signed a three-year, $21 million free agent contract with them in March that included a $6.3 million signing bonus.
But Bennett contends his shoulder got progressively worse during the season and that he asked to have it checked after the 35-31 win on Oct. 8 against the Dallas Cowboys. The 30-year-old tight end says he wanted to opt for surgery, but that the team physician was pushing him to play.
“It wasn’t where I was, it was about the injury. It was one of those things where I talked to six or seven doctors about it and it could go either way,” he said.
After spending just a day on the waiver wire, he finds himself back with the team he won a Super Bowl with last season.
And just like last season, he could soon find himself playing a vital role for a team in mix for a second straight championship run.
Despite having just two days to prepare after arriving in New England, Bennett was active in Sunday’s 41-16 win over the Denver Broncos, catching three passes for 38 yards. He had 24 catches for 233 yards in seven games with the Packers.
His addition came at a good time for a New England offense that had gotten little out of the tight end position this season beyond Rob Gronkowski.
Dwayne Allen, whom the Patriots traded for in the offseason to replace Bennett, didn’t have a catch in his first seven games. Allen caught his first pass off the season — an 11-yard touchdown — against Denver.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said that Bennett is taking on the challenge of getting re-acclimated to his former team as it prepares for Sunday’s matchup with the Raiders in Mexico City.
“Marty had a good foundation from last season being here. He’s a smart guy, so it hasn’t taken him long,” McDaniels said. “He’s working hard at it. He’s studying. He studied hard just to be able to contribute some the other night, and he’s doing the same thing this week.”
Bennett said being back in New England’s locker room has helped him compartmentalize his feelings about how his brief tenure with Green Bay ended.
“I don’t even know if I went through the seven stages of grief yet,” Bennett said. “I’m probably on step three, but I think the group of guys on this team couldn’t be a better place for me in what I’m going through right now and my situation.”
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