FOXBOROUGH — There’s nothing better than making mom happy. And right now, Pennie Bennett is one happy mom.
Her son Martellus is tearing it up for the Patriots, the big tight end showing off his varied set of skills. From devastating run blocker one week to acrobatic pass catcher the next. For good measure, he’s even rushed the ball this season for the first time in his nine-year career.
He’s been on a roll, even as his role seemingly changes with every game plan.
“It’s been fun. My mom enjoys it,’’ Bennett said Thursday morning as he prepared for the first full-padded practice of the week. “My mom’s like, ‘I like you on the Patriots. I get to see everything you’re capable of. Those other teams didn’t let you do everything that you could do as my son.’ I’m like, ‘OK, mom.’ ’’
Mom particularly liked it when Bennett took an end-around handoff from Jacoby Brissett and gained 6 yards against the Texans.
“She’s like, ‘That’s nice, I knew you could do that, you did it in high school.’ My mom really enjoys it,’’ said Bennett, who has 15 catches and a team-high 247 receiving yards this season. “I enjoy it as well. Being diverse. Here, the best thing about it is everything matters. A good block is praised just as much as making a great catch. That makes it a little bit easier because there’s not an emphasis on any one part.’’
Asked if that was different from what he’s experienced elsewhere — he’s been a Cowboy, a Giant, and a Bear — Bennett said, “Yeah. Some places. Yeah.’’
This Sunday, Bennett’s role might change once again as he prepares to play his first regular-season game with Tom Brady as his quarterback. As much as Patriots fans — and his mom — have liked watching Bennett perform, they’ll also like his assessment of Brady after one practice.
“He looks like Tom. He looks a little younger. He looks good,’’ said Bennett. “Like he found the Fountain of Youth.”
So the month off suited his new quarterback? “I think time off does anybody well,’’ quipped Bennett.
While many have predicted that Brady will return with a vengeance this week, that he’ll be playing with an extra large chip on his shoulder, Bennett had a bit of a different take.
“I think every guy’s playing with a chip on his shoulder this entire season, so I don’t think it’s going to change [because Brady’s back],’’ he said.
In fact, Bennett said, that chip is what drives players. It’s a motivational tool.
“That’s just who we are as human beings,” Bennett said. “You can’t play this game without a chip on your shoulder, whether it’s like guys that got cut, guys that got traded, guys that feel like they got passed up by other teams. I mean, to play this game you’ve got to have a chip.’’
Then Bennett decided to provide a little comic relief. Another skill he’s proven quite adept at in his short stint in New England.
“Everybody’s chip is a little bit different,’’ he said. “It’s like Lay’s, I guess. You might be a barbecue guy. I might be a sour cream and onion guy. But as long as you have your chip, that’s what gets you through the game.”
Bennett saved his best punch line for last when it was suggested that perhaps NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — who handed down Brady’s four-game Deflategate ban — was the source of the chip on many of the Patriots’ shoulders.
“Nah,’’ said Bennett. “Goodell looks like a Pringles guy. I don’t consider those chips.’’
Though Browns coach Hue Jackson was very complimentary of Bennett, calling him “as good as there is,’’ he also labeled him “one of the best players in my opinion that is kind of unknown at his position in the NFL because the guy can run routes with anybody.’’ Bennett was asked if he thinks he can still sneak up on people as an “unknown.’’
“I think a lot of players respect me throughout the league. I think a lot of it comes from the media, promoting guys, ‘They can do this, they can do that,’ ’’ Bennett said “People don’t like to play against me. And once I see that, that makes me feel very, very, very good about the way I play and the way I think things will go. So, people don’t really know what I am or what I do for the last couple years. They’ll be like, ‘Oh, you’re playing so well [now].’ Well the last couple years I caught like 200-something balls or whatever it is. So they don’t really care. So I just do it every single week, it’s like check, check, check what’s on my to-do list and then I’ll go about the next week.’’
So far, he’s been consistently checking off boxes with Jimmy Garoppolo and Brissett running the offense this season. Will it be any different now that Brady’s back in control?
“Nah,’’ said Bennett. “I can dance with lots of people.’’