Patriots

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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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

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The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

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So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

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Brady injury has moved Patriots-Jaguars line 1.5 points

FOXBORO -- You would have to be either supremely confident or supremely behind on current events to place a bet on the Patriots in this weekend's AFC title game. 

Tom Brady suffered a hand injury in Wednesday's practice and he was held out of Thursday's session (for all but the stretching portion), leaving him one final chance to practice on Friday before the Jaguars make their way to Gillette Stadium for a shot at a Super Bowl berth. 

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It's unclear how Brady's hand issue will impact his ability to play on Sunday. The expectation is that he will play, but his effectiveness . . . for now seems somewhat uncertain. And the line has moved as a result. 

The Patriots were once nine-point favorites at Caesars Palace, and they are now favored by 7.5 points. Westgate's line made the same move from Patriots -9 to Patriots -7.5. 

For those who feel as though Brady will be OK as he takes on the league's top-ranked passing defense, this represents a golden opportunity. For everyone else, this is probably a good time to focus your gambling efforts on the NFC Championship Game.