Patriots TE Martellus Bennett makes early impression on and off the field

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Two things stood out with New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett on Friday.

The first was an impressive catch he made in 7-on-7 passing drills, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo delivered a laser to Bennett under the shadow of the goalpost, and Bennett reached high over his head -- with safety Patrick Chung right there in competitive coverage -- to haul it in.

It’s the type of play that could make Bennett especially valuable to the Patriots. When space gets tight on the field, his 6-foot-6, 273-pound frame and pass-catching skills add another lethal weapon alongside Rob Gronkowski (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) & Co.

Then, after practice, Bennett created headlines with a soundbite before talking about his appreciation for what is ahead with the Patriots in relation to how his 2015 season ended: on injured reserve.

“Football is fun. I just love playing. I ended up on IR [Dec. 8 last year], so I haven’t had much football in a long time,” he said. “It’s like when you break up and finally get back with the girl you love in the first place.”

Bennett’s remarks reflect, in part, how he’s fully bought into the 2016 season with the Patriots. That’s important, because a lack of buy-in is mainly why the Bears traded him to the Patriots in March. In 2015, Bennett skipped the Bears’ voluntary offseason program as a statement of displeasure with his contract.

That’s the contract the Patriots inherited, with Bennett set to earn $5.085 million in 2016, the final year of the pact.

“I’m not really thinking about next year,” Bennett said Friday. “I just want to have the most fun playing football this year. It can be taken away from you at any time, so I’m just enjoying the game, enjoying the process. I haven’t thought about tomorrow. I’m worried about my todays.”

Those todays mean working closely with Gronkowski, which is a developing picture.

“That’s really exciting,” Bennett said. “I was fortunate enough to play with Brandon Marshall for a long time and learn a lot of my game from him, and now to be with another great player like Rob ... when you’re right there next to him, you’re like: ‘Man, this guy is really good. Hey Rob, how did you do that? How did you do this? Man, show me that! Come to the side real quick and show me how you did that move.’

“It’s just give and take. He asks me sometimes like, ‘Hey, man, you did this today. I liked that. Show me that.’ So we’re just working and trying to make each other better.”