Patriots

Bennett bounces back: 'I'm like a phoenix . . . I rise from the ashes'

Bennett bounces back: 'I'm like a phoenix . . . I rise from the ashes'

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett admitted last week that he was dealing with injuries that were limiting him on the field, and against the Rams in Week 13, he said he put together his worst performance as a member of the Patriots. 

On Monday night, with an extra day to rest his ailing ankle and shoulder, Bennett bounced back with a solid all-around game against the Ravens. He played in 54 of a possible 69 snaps, helping clear space in the running game and catching four passes for 70 yards and a score.

PATRIOTS 30, RAVENS 23

"I knew I had to bounce back and continue to battle and get better this week for my team and myself and for the coaches," Bennett said. "I talked to all my teammates. They knew I was going to come back. I told them, I was messing around with [Matthew] Slater, I told him, 'I'm like a Phoenix, I rise from the ashes.' "

Bennett added: "It felt good to get back out there and block well. I felt like I blocked well. I had a lot of one on one blocks against [Terrell] Suggs and other guys. That's what I felt like I did a good job of this week that I didn't do a good job of last week."

Bennett was a liability at times against the Rams. He missed blocks and he had trouble making plays with the ball in his hands as a receiver. It was clear his ankle -- which he injured against the Browns in Week 5 and appeared to aggravate against the Jets in Week 11 -- was giving him fits.

But against Baltimore, he helped the Patriots in multiple facets of the game and he gave the team a 23-3 lead in the third quarter with a 19-yard touchdown grab. To make the third-down play, he jumped over linebacker Zach Orr and snared it off of Orr's left arm. Both players were fighting for the ball in the end zone, but the officials ruled it a touchdown almost immediately.

"I had it," Bennett said. "Sometimes there's one slice of pizza left and there's two hands that reach into the box. I'm always gonna get the last slice -- unless it's my wife's hand. Then I let her eat it. Only because I love her."

Bennett said that having the extra time to recover helped him physically get back to the player he expects to be.

"It was a little bit of extra time. Short practice on Saturday," Bennett said. "Coaches have been working with me very well to help me get healthy. Training staff's been doing a great job. I've been spending a lot of time in there, which I don't like, but it's worked.

"And I've been putting in a lot of extra time on my own with my own team. I've got a team of doctors I've been using for years. It's just continuing to build and getting healthier going into this next stretch."

If Bennett's starting to turn a corner physically, it could not come at a better time. At 11-2, the Patriots will have a short week to prepare for a game in Denver. Then they'll finish with division contests against the Jets and Dolphins.

"I feel a lot better," he said. "This is the best I've felt in a long time."

The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

32nd_picks_draft_spark.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

The Best at 32: Top NFL Draft picks taken with 32nd selection

The Patriots will have a long wait on Thursday night before they are on the clock for their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.

It's a position they've found themselves in before. This will be the fourth time in the last 15 years that they've owned the 32nd overall pick. (It would have been the fifth time, but DeflateGate cost them a first-round pick in 2017.)

Will Bill Belichick be able to find some top-tier talent? Tom E. Curran looked at past drafts, and found that some teams have managed to strike gold with pick number 32, though it's far from a sure bet.

Check out Tom's list of the Top 15 players taken at No. 32 overall.>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

NFL draft rumors: Patriots have shown a 'ton of interest' in QB Will Grier

The New England Patriots currently are slated to close out the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with pick No. 32, and after passing on Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in a similar spot in last year's draft, could they use this season's first-rounder to select Tom Brady's eventual successor?

Grier is one of the top quarterbacks in the 2019 NFL Draft and could be selected anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to the early portion of the second round. What level of interest do the Patriots have in Grier with Thursday night's first round fast approaching? Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst reported an update Monday:

The New England Patriots have shown a ton of interest in Grier and could draft him as the first round closes out. The New York Giants also like Grier, and he could be their fallback plan if they don’t take a signal caller in Round 1. The Carolina Panthers also have an infatuation with Grier and will consider him in the second round.

Would the Patriots really take Grier in Round 1, or is this a smokescreen designed to trip up opposing front offices?

The Patriots do need a quarterback of the future. Contrary to what we've seen from Tom Brady in recent seasons, the 41-year-old quarterback will, at some point, start to break down and eventually retire. There aren't any great candidates already on the roster to play the role of Brady's successor, so drafting a QB this weekend makes a lot of sense for New England.

Grier played really well for the Mountaineers last season. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,864 yards with 34 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He reportedly visited with the Patriots earlier this month, as did Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock could be available on Day 2 of the draft as well.

Click here for our final 2019 Patriots mock draft roundup>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.