After getting involved in a dust-up yesterday with cornerback Kyle Fuller, Martellus Bennett wasn’t on the practice field for the Chicago Bears on Tuesday morning in Bourbonnais. During practice, GM Phil Emery revealed the reason why, saying that Bennett has been suspended indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Bennett, who also was involved in a scuffle with Kelvin Hayden during training camp last season, will likely miss the team’s first preseason game on Friday against the Philadelphia Eagles, but that isn’t the big takeaway from this story. The fact of the matter is that Bennett completely overreacted to Fuller’s attempt to strip the ball during a red zone drill, and his remarks after practice that he could afford a fine likely rubbed Marc Trestman the wrong way.
"Yes I did I cut the practice," Trestman said Monday. "I felt it was time to stop." The Bears head coach went on to explain, "things happen in practice. It doesn't happen very often. ... We talked about it, we really are a family, and families fight."
Fuller said afterward the incident that he was merely going for the ball and got "all ball" on the contact with Bennett. Both players shook hands a few minutes later, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall addressed the team after practice, reminding them to treat each other like family.
Bennett, who declined to talk to the media immediately after practice Monday, didn't seem too concerned with a fine when meeting reporters an hour later at lunch.
"Fine?" Bennett repeated "I could afford it. ... I don't see what he could fine me for on that."
Bennett explained he is a violent player who practices with intensity with the sole purpose to win championships.
"Reality is I come to training camp for one reason, and that is to prepare to win a championship, every single play I'm scratching and fighting for it," Bennett said. "Same way I play every single day, I play hard, go hard every day. I'm probably one of the most violent people on the field and it's just my style of play, it's how I'm going to continue to play the way I play. That's what I'm here for, everyone talks about friendships, I'm really here for a championship - if we make friends along the way, that's cool but at the end of the day I'm just trying to help the Bears win a championship to the best of my ability."
Some will argue that this was just a training camp scuffle, and that those things happen, but Trestman is likely looking big picture on this. The team has already had numerous fights so far in training camp, and while it’s good for especially the defense to show that kind of intensity that causes offensive players to take exception, things are going a bit too far in some cases.
This was perhaps the most egregious fight of camp, so Bennett is being made example of because of the ferocity of his response to Fuller’s tackle.
Trestman is a coach that doesn’t appreciate distractions, and he wants his team to be more like a family than a collection of players. He acknowledged Monday that families do fight sometimes, but he also stressed that if this had happened during a game, it would be a really bad indicator of where things are headed with the team. He wants to head off anything like that before it comes to pass, and suspending Bennett indefinitely is a way of making sure that any simmering conflicts cool down.