By GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Call Martellus Bennett the “quarterback whisperer.”
The Green Bay Packers’ tight end is with his third team in as many seasons, which means another training camp of building rapport with a new quarterback. He’s proven to be productive at every stop.
Bennett is confident he’ll do just fine connecting with Aaron Rodgers, even if the veterans might get limited reps together in preseason games.
“I need all the reps I can (get) with Aaron — practice reps, game reps, meeting room reps. Any rep I can get with him I’ll try to get whether it’s just whispering to him, try to be the quarterback whisperer,” the always-entertaining Bennett said. “Over-communicate and over-rep every single thing we could possibly do.”
Rodgers and Bennett have shown signs of chemistry in practice. What’s not to like about a 6-foot-7 tight end who caught seven touchdown passes last year in New England?
Throw Bennett into the mix with a deep receiving group and a tight end position that also added Lance Kendricks in free agency, and the Packers’ passing game has the potential to be even more potent this season.
“I’m one of those guys, I’m like everybody’s type so I have chemistry with everybody,” he said this week. “Chemistry was one of my best classes and in real life chemistry is one of my best traits.”
In terms of football, developing chemistry means more than just getting meaningful snaps in preseason games. While important, a lot of the work goes back to the relationships that start in the offseason program and minicamp in June.
It comes down to knowing timing, technique and tendencies, like the kind of rapport that Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson display in games.
“It’s part of your culture, it’s part of your training regimen,” coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. “So whether it’s something that happens immediately on the field, it’s important that … our quarterbacks are taught to communicate immediately with other players particularly if they see something.
“Because at the end of the day, the precise timing and technique of what you’re trying to get done has to come from the coaches to the quarterbacks and through all positions,” McCarthy added.
Bennett and Kendricks have also proven to be a good resource for holdover tight end Richard Rodgers, who was having a good camp until missing some time last week after breaking his right index finger while trying to catch a pass.
Rodgers was practicing this week with a splint to protect the finger. There were no special drills to do to get used to the splint — Rodgers said he just had to keep his same routine and “fight through” the injury.
One advantage for Rodgers over newcomers Bennett and Kendricks going into camp was his experience the past three seasons playing with Aaron Rodgers. He’s familiar with the two-time MVP quarterback’s expectations and tendencies.
“And then for me with (Bennett and Kendricks), it was defenses, just coverage recognition, things like that because they’ve been around so long,” Richard Rodgers said.
“They’ve seen all the coverages and seen tips from the defense.”
McCarthy was asked if he had a standard for player conduct during the national anthem, or if he left it up to each player. The Packers coach gives a presentation early each preseason about the anthem, in which he said he talks about the history of the anthem and its importance. He gave the presentation this year on Aug. 5 before the Family Night practice at Lambeau Field.
“We have a PowerPoint presentation that you update, and you always try to deliver the message clearly to the team. Our approach has always been to give the history and the understanding of what the national anthem means and why it’s played before any national football game, particularly it started after World War II,” McCarthy said.
RB Ty Montgomery (lower leg), CB Davon House (hamstring), along with CB Damarious Randall and WR Malachi Dupre, who are in the concussion protocol, were among players who missed practice on Wednesday. Asked before practice about his concern for Montgomery, McCarthy said. “Just working through it. … We’re not doing the injury dance today. Everybody’s getting better.”
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