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Martellus Bennett: An irreplaceable force at TE for Bears

Updated: July 21, 2014 4:20PM



There’s no better person to describe the importance of tight end Martellus Bennett to the Bears’ success than the man himself.

“I’m the [President] Obama of tight ends, except that I don’t raise taxes,” Bennett said. “I don’t tax them. There’s no taxation in the tight ends room. Just great leadership and great vocabulary.”

That’s really just Bennett’s flattering spin on the truth.

What if Bennett gets injured? He played through ailments last ­season and endured his share of scary-looking hits.

Could Dante Rosario, Zach Miller and Matthew Mulligan — the three reserve tight ends remaining after Fendi Onobun’s release on Thursday — make up for his absence?

Bennett is by far the Bears’ best tight end — an irreplaceable player on every level. And with that comes leadership responsibilities — a constant nudging by him to make those who back him up better.

“A year ago [being a leader] was harder for him,” tight ends coach Andy Bischoff said. “A year ago, he was much harder on his peers. This year, and even as the year went on last year, everybody takes on a little bit of the environment that you’re around, and I’m not ever going to be a guy that’s [cursing] them, and he’s not that kind of a guy, either.

“[Bennett is] a bright guy who is trying to help his peers and he takes a very good role. Where we stand in practice, we’re always talking about, ‘Critique the guy that’s in. Critique the route he’s running. Critique the steps he’s taking.’ He’s very good about it in a positive way with all the guys.”

Being a starter and a leader still is relatively new for Bennett. He spent four seasons behind Pro Bowler Jason Witten with the Dallas Cowboys and didn’t become an every-game starter until 2012 with the New York Giants. But he didn’t have a long-term deal that secured his gregarious presence in the Giants’ locker room.

With the Bears, he has the playing time and a sense of security (a four-year contract worth $20.4 million).

“It was kind of tough last year because everybody was [new],” Bennett said. “I was in it with the Giants for one year and then I left New York.

“In New York, it was really my first time being put in that process.”

The idea of everyone being leader is a principle of Trestman’s Bears. But Bennett is a player who absolutely has to be, considering Rosario, the No. 2 tight end, had one catch for 13 yards in 15 games in 2013.

“There is more competition for the No. 2 spot than there was a year ago, clearly,” Bischoff said.

After saying goodbye to Greg Olsen after the 2010 season, Bennett brought the Bears into the modern era of tight ends. He set career highs with 65 catches and 759 yards in 2013. It was the best season for a Bears tight end since Mike Ditka’s 75 catches and 897 yards in 1964.

In that regard, Bennett wants to lead in an “authentic way.”

“Being a leader is second to me being the best player I can be,” Bennett said. “Before I could lead, I had to become the best player I could possibly be. I don’t want to be a [expletive] out there when I get out there on Sunday.

“When I do my drills, I have to be flying around. So that way, I can be like, ‘Hey, you need to pick it up.’ If I’m not doing that myself, than how can I lead?”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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