Bennett: Unexpected return to Patriots ‘surreal’

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Calling it a “surreal week” after being waived by the Green Bay Packers and claimed by the New England Patriots, tight end Martellus Bennett made an immediate impact in limited action during the team’s 41-16 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.

Bennett played seven snaps and finished with three catches for 38 yards, then addressed why he is still playing when he was prepared to undergo surgery in Green Bay.

“I talked to six or seven doctors about it and it could go either way, and it was one of those things that I felt like should get fixed,” Bennett said. “And then after trying to get it fixed and getting waived, you just got that vengeance in your heart. You’re like ‘All right, that’s how you’re going to do it? Then … let’s go ball.'”

The shoulder injury was what led the Packers to waive him Wednesday with a “failure to disclose a physical condition” designation. Bennett disputed that the Packers didn’t know about his shoulder, posting an Instagram story that detailed his side.

Bennett said quarterback Tom Brady reached out to him and relayed that he was intrigued about him possibly returning to the Patriots, but Bennett still wasn’t sure what to do. Even when Bill Belichick contacted him, Bennett wasn’t certain about his plans.

“When Bill called and said they had claimed, I said ‘No f—-ing way,'” Bennett said. “Then he was like, what’s going on? And I told him and then we had a quick conversation and he was like ‘Let me think about it and I will call you back.'”

Part of what led Bennett to join the Patriots was his familiarity with them from 2016.

“I think this group of guys and this team, it couldn’t be a better [situation] with what I am going through,” he said. “It couldn’t be a better place for me.”

That might explain why he backed off an Instagram post, when he was with the Packers, in which he had previously said this was probably his last season.

“I don’t know,” he said Sunday night, when asked about his future. “I am just playing as I go. I am enjoying playing here and things like that, so life’s good.”

As for criticism he’s received from Green Bay, Bennett said, “I got criticism from all of my former organizations, so I mean, f— it at this point. I am rubber and you’re glue, and anything you say bounced off me and sticks to you.”

On Sunday night, Bennett took the field for the first time with 5:18 remaining in the first quarter, and on his first play, he caught a short pass from Brady and ran for a 27-yard gain. Four plays later, he was on the receiving end of a 5-yard pass. Bennett entered the medical tent on the sideline after the play and didn’t return to action until the second half.

Brady said Bennett did a great job, considering the quick turnaround.

“I love having Martellus on our team,” Brady said postgame. “He adds a lot. He is a great player and was for us last year. Hopefully we can keep building on it.”

Meanwhile, as Brady welcomed back Bennett, he connected with tight end Dwayne Allen for a touchdown for the first time as he inches closer to the NFL record for number of scoring pass targets.

Brady’s touchdown pass to Allen — Allen’s first catch with New England — came with 25 seconds remaining in the second quarter and made Allen the 68th target to which Brady has thrown a touchdown.

The NFL record is 70, set by Vinny Testaverde.

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