Heading into this offseason, everyone in and around the Windy City knew the Chicago Bears needed to upgrade the tight end position. Kellen Davis wasn't the pass-catching threat many believed him to be and the passing game struggled because of it.
Davis' lack of production as a receiver allowed opposing defense to roll safety help over the top of Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall, limiting his effectiveness down the field. Marshall knows as well as anyone the value of a tight end that can put stress on the defense, which is why, during the offseason, he reached out to Martellus Bennett, who signed with the team yesterday.
"He expressed his need to want to get better and he's been a big part of bringing guys into Chicago," Bennett said today. "When you have guys on your team that want other players to come in, that's not selfish. He knows he's going to lose at least four or five balls a year."
Bennett struggled in the NFL his first four years in the league backing up Jason Witten in Dallas. His high for receptions in single season while a Cowboy was 33. He attributed his lack of production to his own attitude problems and unwillingness to accept a No. 2 role.
It was during those rough years that Marshall reached out to Bennett.
"BMarsh has been a mentor of mine for the last couple of years," said Bennett. "He's one of the reasons I've been able to take the strides in my career that I have been. Whether it's watching his tapes or asking him how he does things and what I need to do to get better. Whether it's what I'm eating; he's a total health nut. He's an animal. He's a guy I look up to for the way he plays and the kind of person he is."
When Bennett finally got a chance to be the No. 1 guy with the New York Giants last season, he flourished, catching 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns. He's also an accomplished blocker. He said the opportunity to play alongside Marshall, and catches passes from Jay Cutler, was a big reason he chose to sign with the Bears.
"I'm excited about playing with [Marshall]," Bennett said. "I think he's going to help me take my game to another level, which is a big reason why I came here. With this coaching staff and guys like that around you, you can't do anything but get better."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.