Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MySA.COM: Orsborn: Cowboys' Bennett blending fun with focus

By Tom Orsborn - Express-News

CARROLLTON — Twitter and tattoos typically aren't the beginning and ending topics during player interviews at minicamp.

Unless, of course, the conversation is with Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett.

To say the world of the former Texas A&M star is full of fun would be an understatement. Just listen to his tattoo talk.

“I've got 264,” he said. “I'm trying to catch (rapper) Lil' Wayne. I've got a bigger body, so I think I'll catch him. But I don't want any on my face. I'm not going Mike Tyson.”

And what about that sometimes shaggy beard he sports?

“That's my Bin Laden,” Bennett said.

But after a rookie season in which he came across at times as more of a flake than a football player, Bennett appears to be growing into the type of person and performer the Cowboys hoped he would be when they drafted him in the second round.

In other words, the self-described jokester seems more serious on the field.

“That's one of the major things I want to work on this offseason, show them I can still be the person I am and still develop as an athlete and be focused on the field, in the weight room, when we are running, whatever it may be,” Bennett said.

It's a goal he has reached, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.

“He's been real solid,” Phillips said. “All players mature as they get older from the first year to the second year, and I think that's helped him. Just knowing what's going on, what pro football is, how to get it done. I think (tight ends coach) John (Garrett) did a great job of getting him in the right mind-set, and (Pro Bowl tight end) Jason Witten sets a great example.”

On Tuesday, Bennett backed up his talk with a strong day. After a slow start that included a busted route, he rebounded for a pair of 5-yard touchdown receptions — one from Tony Romo and one from Jon Kitna — and another catch of a Romo pass that gained 60 yards.

Bennett lined up on the same side as Witten on the long catch-and-run. The Cowboys have also split Bennett wide and used him at fullback, slot receiver and H-back.

“I feel like I'm a good enough athlete to do whatever they ask me to do. It's just a matter of learning it,” said Bennett, who had 20 catches, including four for TDs, last season.

Romo has also noticed Bennett's improvement.

“He's running good routes,” Romo said.

As a rookie, Bennett gained a reputation for being a clown after he was shown testing Garrett a few times on HBO's “Hard Knocks,” which chronicled training camp.

It didn't help matters when Dallas fined him in January for posting a rap video on YouTube — the world's introduction to what Bennett calls “Marty B TV” — that included derogatory terms for blacks and gays.

Bennett later posted an apology and has since cleaned up his Internet content even while expanding his social networking.

“Twittering is one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “Facebook, *******, I pretty much do it all. It's better than being out in strip clubs all night. I'd rather be at home at 1 a.m. twittering than being out doing foolishness in public.”

Romo said he just wants Bennett to be himself.

“Martellus definitely has a personality,” Romo said. “He's a character out there a lot of the time, but he's working hard and definitely improving.”