IRVING, Texas – You’re probably skeptical about Martellus Bennett translating his immense potential to production.
You probably got your hopes up after hearing all about the young tight end’s dominance in the Alamodome last summer. But Marty B failed miserably to live up to the hype, catching only 15 passes for 159 yards and no touchdowns in his second season.
The Cowboys still believe in the kid.
“If he’ll just keep doing what he’s doing right now,” Wade Phillips said, “I think he’ll be fine.”
Jerry Jones publicly challenged Bennett’s focus at the end of last season. The owner/general manager recently praised Bennett’s offseason work, which has included lifting weights with the offensive linemen. Marty B is still a goofball, but he's handling his business at Valley Ranch.
It’s one thing for Wade and Jerry to gush about a guy. They do that all the time.
Jason Witten doesn’t blow smoke about undeserving dudes. The perennial Pro Bowler has also been impressed by Bennett’s focus and commitment this offseason.
Witten thinks Bennett learned from his humbling 2009 season, when the 6-6, 265-pound physical specimen was a blocking force but a big disappointment in the passing game.
Bennett has the tools to be a major weapon. He's fast enough to torch linebackers down the seam and athletic enough to leap over defensive backs to get the ball. He should be a vertical threat and red-zone target. But Bennett never established a rhythm with Tony Romo and tended to run imprecise routes and drop passes when he got a rare opportunity to make a play.
“You can’t press,” Witten said. “I think when you’re doing that, you’re thinking about too many things. It’s not good. Just let the game come to you. At the same time, knowing that these are your plays and you want to maximize them, there’s a fine line there. I think that he’s learning that process. More than anything, you make those things happen and more and more is given to you.
“I think he understands that, and I really do think this is going to be a big year for him.”