LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 16: Martellus Bennett #80 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter against LaRon Landry #30 of the Washington Redskins during the game on November 16, 2008 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jason Witten is not in the habit of doling out unwarranted praise for teammates, which makes his remarks concerning third-year tight end Martellus Bennett--the "beans" in "Beans and Rice," who impressed in training camp and the preseason only to underachieve woefully in 2009--all the more encouraging.
And make no mistake, any encouragement is welcome. Bennett posted just 15 catches in 2009 for 159 yards and a touchdown, all while developing a reputation as unreliable in the passing game. Still, the team must believe in the Texas A&M product, as evidenced by Jerry Jones turning down a deadline deal last season that would have sent Bennett to Cincinnati in exchange for a "premium" draft pick and a game-ready player.
If Witten's assessment Tuesday is correct, Jerry may emerge from the situation looking all the more like an adroit football man.
“You can’t press,” Witten said, per ESPNDallas.com. “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.”
Indeed, the word out of Valley Ranch is that Bennett has matured a great deal since the 2009 season, when Jerry wondered aloud about the tight end's level of focus. It hardly seems like an issue of physical talent; aside from the pre-season, during which Bennett looked like a sleeper pick to make the Pro Bowl, he showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie year, 2008.
Now, he may be on the right track to emerge from this sophomore slump just in time for what will be, for Bennett, a "make-or-break" season.
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