Packers’ rocky season continues with loss of Bennett
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Another week, another change of direction for the Green Bay Packers.
And another change of teams for tight end Martellus Bennett.
The Packers, already dealing with quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ absence because of a broken collarbone, will have to make further adjustments after waiving Bennett on Wednesday.
Bennett was claimed off waivers on Thursday by the New England Patriots, the team with which Bennett won a Super Bowl last season.
Bennett, the team’s big offseason free-agent acquisition, gave the Packers one of the deepest tight end groups in the NFL with Richard Rodgers and Lance Kendricks. A powerful line-of-scrimmage blocker with five consecutive seasons of 50-plus receptions, Bennett provided fresh options to a potent offense.
Coach Mike McCarthy leaned heavily on Bennett, who played on 83 percent of snaps. While he is fourth on the team with 24 receptions for 233 yards, his biggest contributions came in the run game. The Packers rank fifth in the NFL at 4.53 yards per carry.
“Any time you lose one of your top-caliber players it’s an adjustment,” McCarthy said on Thursday. “You look at the adjustment you make with Aaron lost at quarterback and having three veteran tight ends on a roster, now you’re down to two. You adjust the way you do things, the way you game plan and the way you move forward.”
The Packers released Bennett for failing to disclose a physical condition.
During the Packers’ bye week, Bennett posted on Instagram that he was “pretty sure” he would retire at the end of the season.
Bennett practiced on the Tuesday after the bye. After a day off Wednesday, Bennett did not participate in the practice the rest of the week and was inactive for Monday night’s loss against Detroit because of a shoulder injury.
McCarthy said he did not talk to Bennett about retiring, and he wouldn’t speculate on whether there was any connection between Bennett’s Instagram post, the injury and the team’s sagging fortunes without Aaron Rodgers. Bennett has also played for the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Chicago Bears.
“I think we know where we’re trying to go. If someone is not on that boat, it’s better that they’re not here,” Richard Rodgers said. “We’re looking to move on. We know our ultimate goal.”
Asked if he didn’t believe Bennett was “on the boat,” Richard Rodgers said, “I really can’t answer that.”
Bennett’s agent, Kennard McGuire, declined a request for comment from The Associated Press.
Rodgers, a third-round pick in 2014, played 33 snaps against Detroit and Kendricks, a seventh-year player from Wisconsin who also was signed in free agency, played 29. Both are capable receivers.
Rodgers caught 58 passes in 2015 before ceding time last season to then-starter Jared Cook. Kendricks caught a career-high 50 passes for the Rams last season. This season, Kendricks has caught eight passes for 126 yards and one touchdown and Rodgers has caught four passes for 43 yards.
“He took on a very heavy role and I thought he did a good job with it,” Kendricks said. “Luckily, I have Rich, who’s been here for four years. Hopefully we can build off that.”
NOTES: DT Quinton Dial (chest) did not practice. … OLB Ahmad Brooks (back), who has missed the past three games, was limited.
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