The Chicago Bears have thrust themselves into playoff contention. Their effort to finish the job could be undermined by a lingering rift with tight end Martellus Bennett.
Bennett, who boycotted voluntary offseason workouts due to concerns about his contract, didn’t make the trip to Green Bay for last Thursday night’s win. As explained by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Bennett expressed frustration during practice last week regarding his role in the offense. That has created to suspicions that Bennett didn’t play last week not because of a rib injury but because of his attitude.
Bennett denied creating a scene at practice, but Biggs reports it happened.
“I wasn’t pissed off,” Bennett said. “I didn’t play last week.”
He also didn’t watch the game, opting instead to wait for the film of the victory to be uploaded to his tablet. That admission, in and of itself, suggests that something is going on. How many players who aren’t with their teammates for a road game don’t actually watch the game involving their teammates — especially when it’s a prime-time game?
Coach John Fox declined to address whether he believes Bennett is upset.
“You will have to ask him about that,” Fox said, per Biggs. “I don’t know. I don’t really care. I get upset too. I think he is one of the top-five targeted tight ends in the league.”
Fox is accurate on that point; Bennett currently is fifth in total targets. But with 50 receptions in 2015, he’s off the pace he set in 2014, when he caught 90 balls.
Bennett’s frustrations possibly flow from the emergence of Zach Miller, who has four touchdown receptions in the last four games. Regardless, it’s obvious there’s an issue and the question for the offseason will be whether the Bears bring Bennett back for the final year of his current deal.