Joining ESPN's First Take on Wednesday, Martellus Bennett explained just how different it is to play in a system like New England's with a quarterback like Tom Brady.
Asked about the expectations that will inevitably follow Bennett as he sees targets from Brady when covered one-on-one -- thanks in part to the attention Rob Gronkowski will garner -- the former Bears, Giants and Cowboys tight end said that he has no choice but to elevate his play.
His new quarterback demands it.
"Playing with Tom has been very exciting because he makes it so much easier for you when you go out there and play," Bennett said. "He's always spot on and his personality is contagious. The way he competes, he makes you rise to another level because it doesn't matter if it's walkthrough -- walkthrough you end up going faster because he's playing faster. You have to raise the level of play to where Tom's at.
"I think that's one of the most inspiring things [in New England], the way he's able to raise your play without even saying anything. It's just the way he does it. 'OK I gotta match that because if he's doing this, this dude's doing this, then I have to make sure I'm up there as well.' "
Bennett, who joined ESPN to promote his new children's book and app "Hey AJ It's Saturday," will have one final OTA practice with the Patriots this week. Then the team will re-join for training camp at the end of July. Though he's only been a teammate of Brady's for a short period of time, he's already very familiar with the signal-caller's work habits.
"He's just always up here," Bennett said. "He's never down. It's always the same Tom everyday. You go in, you know what you're going to get, and you know what he expects from you, and you know he's going to bring it. If you don't bring it, he's going to tell you, too. Like, 'Hey, I need you to pick it up.' "
Bennett insisted with a smile that he hasn't been on the receiving end of Brady's reprimands during minicamp or OTAs -- only coaching points and spot-on passes.
"Yeah I think he's one of the most accurate quarterbacks I've been with as far as like ball-placement and not having to think about where this ball's going to be," Bennett said. "You can just kind of feel where the throw's going to be. You expect back-shoulder it's there. Over the top, it's there. You just kind of can feel the game a little bit easier with him."
Here are a few other highlights from Bennett's discussion on First Take . . .
On the difference between Chicago and New England: "I think just the way the culture is already established. I think the last couple of years in Chicago, they were trying to establish a culture with new coaches. I think here it's a proven method, and you just come in, you plug in, you already know that it works so you have no questions about it. You just go in and do your job."
On what it will be like to play for a Super Bowl contender: "That's one of the most intriguing parts [of playing for the Patriots] is being around a winning culture. I think my entire time in the NFL, I haven't been on a winning team. When I was in Dallas, we didn't really win that many games, I don't think we had a winning record when I was there. In New York, we didn't. And the best we did in Chicago was 8-8. When you lose a lot of games, and you don't have a [team in] playoff contention, it just becomes a bunch of individuals trying to go out there and making the most plays that you can make. It's just natural for you. When you're losing, it's like, 'OK, I'm going to make sure I win my one-on-one battles. But when you're on a winning team, I think you just go out there and just, 'I'm going to do whatever it takes to win these games and get the team to where it needs to be.' Because you know what you're playing for."
On playing for Bill Belichick: "I like him because he's honest, he's up-front, and he's fair. That's all you can ask for as a leader. I talk to him all the time. He's funny. I laugh . . . I don't know if I'm supposed to laugh sometimes, but I always end up laughing. I mean, I have conversations with him. But I talk to everybody. I like him a lot. He's funny to me . . . I think his thing is, he wants guys to care about his teammates and care about the team. If you do that, he doesn't have a problem with you. If he feels as if you're not progressing or doing something to progress the team to be better or you're not doing your job, then I think that's when the issue comes. As long as you show up to work, you do what you're supposed to do and you're where you're supposed to be, then I don't think he has an issue with you."