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Bears TE Martellus Bennett returns from suspension; ‘I could have handled things differently’
BOURBONNAIS — Bears tight end Martellus Bennett returned from an indefinite suspension in good spirits Sunday, admitting “I could have handled the situation differently” and acknowledging a lesson learned about what is expected from him.
“I understand the way they want me to practice,” said Bennett, who missed five days of training camp after throwing teammate Kyle Fuller to the ground in a practice skirmish last Monday. “I’ve always been a guy to practice hard. I understand what they want from me and just do it the way they want it to be done.”
Bennett was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team,” after instigating the incident with Fuller in a red-zone drill last week. Though the Bears would not detail the infractions that caused the suspension, it was clear that the Fuller incident was part of a pattern or conduct detrimental to the team.
Bennett would not delve into conversations he had with coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery that led to his reinstatement. “We’ll keep that in-house,” he told reporters. “I did everything they asked me to do — that’s why I’m standing in front of you’all right now. Everything they asked me to do I did and I did it exceptionally well.
It does not appear that Bennett will have to change his ways too drastically — probably just take a little of the edge off on one end and hustle a little bit more on the other.
“I feel I’ve always been a great teammate,” he said. “I think they want me to continue to be the player I’ve been and continue to play the way I’ve been playing and perform highly on the field.”
Asked if he was surprised to be suspended in the first place, Bennett said, “You never know what’s going to happen nowadays.”
Saying he was “super-excited to be back,” Bennett added that he received a warm welcome from teammates.
“They love me,” he said. “I love the guys. I got a lot of hugs and high-fives and slaps on the butt and all that good stuff and a lot of jokes. The moment they saw me, most guys just started laughing because they wanted me to say something funny. But they all seemed very happy to have me back around. Guys said they missed me. I missed the guys. That’s one of the best things about playing in sports, the friendships with the guys you play with.”
Bears tight ends caught 10 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns in Bennett’s absence against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Bears’ preseason opener on Friday night — led by Zach Miller, who had six receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Bennett said he could not have been happier to see his teammates do well.
“It’s always tough to watch the game. You want to get out there with the team,” he said. “I thought the tight ends did me proud, so I was super-excited for them.
“Zach was out there balling. He had some YAC [yards after the catch]. Dante [Rosario] got a big ball across the middle. Everybody caught a pass except for [Matthew] Mulligan. I saw Mulligan toady I was like, ‘You’re the only one that didn’t catch a pass besides myself.’
“I thought they played exceptionally well. I think we had over 100 yards as a tight end group. To see those guys get a chance to go out there and do what we’ve been working on together and helping them perform ant a high level, I was pretty excited for them. I thought they played well. I was extremely happy about that.”
After a rough start immediately following the incident with Fuller — when he refused to even acknowledge he was wrong and mocked a potential fine, saying, “I can afford it.” — the episode appears to be a lesson learned for Bennett.
“Yeah. I think everything in life is about learning lessons,” Bennett said. “Whatever the situation in life, you always learn from it, whether it’s good or bad, whatever it may be, there’s always a lesson or moral to the story.”