EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett tried to be diplomatic about his four seasons in Dallas, and did his best to look forward to his new career as the starting tight end for the New York Giants.
There was no boasting about either wanting to get back at Dallas in the NFL season opener Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium or taking any cheap shots at former quarterback Tony Romo or Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The free-spirited Bennett kept his thoughts and any lingering bitterness close to the vest, for the most part. The former second-round draft pick insists he just wants to help the Giants win this season and show that he can be a dominant player now that he is out of Jason Witten's shadow.
I'm moreso just trying to show the Giants what they have," Bennett said Saturday after the Super Bowl champions practiced. "That part of my book is done, it's over. That chapter of my book is over and I've got new (stuff) to write about. And I'm excited to get to write the new parts of my life. And it's been great so far. I've been enjoying it and I'm happy pretty much every single day, which is huge. I'm excited to just go out there. It's going to be fun playing against some of the guys I'm still cool with. It's going to be fun."
Bennett has been a breath of fresh air in the locker room. He usually says what's on the tip of tongue and tries to spice up everything with a little comedy.
He shied away from anything negative about Dallas, unlike after he signed with the Giants in March. His first comments when he arrived were exactly the same of what Jones recently said about what would happen when Tom Coughlin's team visited Dallas later this season — a so-called butt whupping.
Bennett did have his moments. When asked if he enjoyed his stay in Dallas, the "No" was quick.
"Everybody knows that," he said. "I had a good time, had some good memories there, but those memories are old now. I'm not one to live in the past. I'm looking forward to the new memories that we get to start making Wednesday night. Hopefully it's some great stuff that goes down in history."
Bennett has been the go-to guy among the Giants' three tight ends. He had seven catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.
However, he also has had his moments where he looked like the new guy.
In the preseason finale against New England, Bennett broke off a route on third down when Manning thought he was going to continue up the seam.
"I talked to him during the game," Bennett said. "We had different reads. I read something and he read something and threw it up and I told him. But he understood what I was thinking and did and why I did it. I won't happen again."
Coughlin recently commented that it has been interesting getting to know Bennett, who had 85 catches in 60 games with the Cowboys. The 65-year-old coach isn't used to his players being as talkative as him.
"I can't help who I am," Bennett said. "This is just who I am. Who I really want to show, and not being funny, I just want to show being a dominant football player. I mean, the funny stuff is cool. But it's not what I am here for. I am here to make big plays. If I can tell a joke while making big plays, hey, it all works together. But I ain't really here to tell jokes. I just happen to have a weird sense of humor."
It's somewhat ironic that the Cowboys might be facing the Giants without Witten, the guy whose play kept Bennett nailed to the bench. The perennial Pro Bowler injured his spleen in the preseason and he has not been cleared by doctors to play in the season opener.
"Irony is a part of life, so, it's kind of weird not seeing him out there if he doesn't play," Bennett said. "I wouldn't be surprised if he picked his spleen up and held it in his hand to try to run routes. That's the kind of guy he is. He's a warrior. There are some things that he has in his game that I have in me, that are built in me. I don't ever want to miss games, I don't want to miss practice or anything like that. I think all the guys see that in me and I learned it from Witten."
If Bennett shows the Giants that he can play like Witten, or even half as well, they probably be happy.