Martellus Bennett

Bennett says he told teams not to claim him, but Patriots came calling anyway

Bennett says he told teams not to claim him, but Patriots came calling anyway

DENVER -- Martellus Bennett was in uniform for the Patriots on Sunday night against the Broncos, catching three passes for 38 yards in his first game since re-joining the team as a waiver claim on Friday.

But what he did in his seven snaps at Sports Authority Field was not the story after the Patriots won, 41-16. The story, as it pertained to Bennett, was how he made his way back to the Patriots in the first place.

Following New England's seventh win of the season, Bennett spoke to reporters for the first time since being waived by the Packers with a "failure to disclose a physical condition" designation.

Bennett said that he told his agent to tell teams not to claim him. His shoulder was in bad shape, and he wanted to get surgery.

Still, the Patriots -- and Bill Belichick in particular -- came calling.

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"When Bill called and said they claimed me, I was like, ‘No [bleeping] way.’ Then he was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And I told him . . . We had a quick conversation and I was just like, ‘Let me think about it and I’ll call you back.’

“Even then, it wasn’t like, ‘Hey, you want to come?’ It was like, ‘Let me just call you back in a few minutes. Give me a chance to think about it and regroup.’ Because I don’t even know if I went through the seven stages of grief yet. I’m probably on Step 3.

"I think the group of guys on this team couldn’t be a better place for me to, with what I’m going through right now, this situation, it couldn’t be a better place for me, all the familiar faces and friends and things like that. It’s been good to have those guys around."

Bennett was asked why he decided he wanted to play with his shoulder in the condition it was in as a member of the Patriots when he wasn't willing to do the same as a member of the Packers.

“It wasn’t where I was, it was just about the injury,” Bennett said. “It was like one of those things, I talked to six or seven doctors about it and it could go either way. It was like one of those things I felt I should get fixed. And then after trying to get it fixed and getting waived, you just get that vengeance in your heart. It’s just like, ‘All right, that’s how you’re going to do it? Then [expletive] it. Let’s go ball.' "

Bennett's path to playing Sunday night was a circuitous one. He was claimed on Thursday, got on a plane, landed at 2:30 a.m., got to his hotel and then had to be at Gillette Stadium at 5:45 a.m. Friday morning.

Belichick then convinced Bennett, who was exhausted, to take a few reps during Friday's light practice.

"I think he knows how to talk to me too," Bennett said, "so I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll go out there.’ Next thing you know I’m back on the plane five hours to Denver."

Bennett knows he's been criticized for how things played out in Green Bay. His former teammates came to the defense of Packers team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie, and some made it known they felt like Bennett gave up on the team.

“I got criticism from all of my former organizations,” Bennett said. “I mean, [expletive]. At this point, it’s like I’m rubber and you're glue. Anything you say bounces off me and sticks back to you . . . 

"Like I told the guys, ‘In order for the Phoenix to be reborn, he must first turn to ashes.’ "

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Five thoughts from Patriots-Broncos: Special teams play is the difference

Five thoughts from Patriots-Broncos: Special teams play is the difference

DENVER -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from what transpired between the Broncos and Patriots on Sunday night at Mile High Stadium . . . 

1) Rex Burkhead was a jack-of-all-trades in his third game back from injury. Since returning from a rib issue that kept him out five weeks, Burkhead has seen his snap-count and his usage steadily increase, and in Denver he was featured prominently. He carried six times in the first half for 23 yards, and he caught all three of his targets for 27 yards and a touchdown. He also made one of the biggest special-teams plays of the game, blocking a second-quarter Broncos punt that eventually led to a field goal. He was in on two first-half tackles as a member of the kickoff team as well. Have a day, Rex. When the Patriots signed Burkhead this offseason, they thought he had the ability to contribute in multiple phases. Now that he's healthy, he's proving them right. 

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2) The monkey is finally off of Dwayne Allen's back. Late in the second quarter he made his first catch of the season -- an 11-yard touchdown that made the score 27-9. Tom Brady was fired up to see the tight end make catch No. 1 as a member of the Patriots, and Allen probably felt doubly relieved since he had a potential touchdown pass bounce off of his hands earlier in the quarter. For a player who has done all the right things off the field and in practice, yet still hasn't seen results on the field, the score had to have served as a huge boost of confidence. 

3) Martellus Bennett played two snaps in the first half and caught passes on both. He had a 27-yard catch-and-run on his first play since re-joining the Patriots, and he made a five-yard grab later in the first quarter. Soon thereafter, however Bennett made his way to the medical tent on the Patriots sideline and spent several minutes inside. He did not play at all in the second quarter, though he was spotted chatting briefly with Tom Brady with his helmet in hand. Bennett returned to action in the second half, though he was used sparingly. He caught a six-yard pass in the fourth quarter to give him three grabs for 38 yards on the night. 

4) Special teams play was the difference as the Patriots built up a three-score lead in the first half. And it wasn't all Burkhead. First was the muffed punt by Broncos return man Isaiah McKenzie, which was encouraged by Jonathan Jones' good coverage. Jacob Hollister fell on the ball, and two plays later Brady found Rex Burkhead to open the scoring. What looked like a quick three-and-out for the Broncos defense turned into a 7-0 deficit. Then came Dion Lewis' 103-yard kick return for a score that was sprung by good blocks from Allen, James Develin and Marquis Flowers. Then came Burkhead's block. Former Broncos assistant special teams coach Bill Belichick had to be beaming. 

5) The Patriots put together a big-boy drive when they took possession for the first time in the second half. After the Broncos scored to make it 27-16, Brady and his teammates took over at their own 25 and needed just 3:18 to drive the field. Long-gainers to Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks -- helped by play-action fakes -- set up a Phillip Dorsett catch that was then followed by three hard-charging Lewis runs. His last, from eight yards out, showed his strength as he carried Aqib Talib into the end zone. Suddenly, after the Broncos thought they'd built some momentum, the Patriots were back up three scores, 34-16.

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