When the Green Bay Packers cut Martellus Bennett last week with a failure to disclose a physical condition designation, the tight end fired back by saying he needed surgery but claimed that team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie tried to make him play, which is exactly what Bennett did after the Patriots claimed him off waivers.
While multiple players came to the defense of McKenzie, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews found some humor in how Bennett handled the situation.
“He seemed to suit up and looked good on Sunday night,” Matthews said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “We all got a good laugh from it, but it is what it is. Martellus is in their locker room now and not here anymore. So now we’re just focused on the guys we have in here.
“You know what, I think everybody knows the story there — we don’t need to talk about it much more,” Matthews added. “Like I said, we’re focused on the guys in the locker room, but it’s an interesting story that will probably be talked about for a while.”
Bennett caught three passes for 38 yards on Sunday in his return to the Patriots, where he played last season before he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Packers in March. The deal contained a $6.3 million signing bonus, and the Packers are expected to go after the unamortized portion of that, which totals $4.2 million.
After Sunday’s game, his first since rejoining the Patriots, Bennett explained how he found himself back on the field in a different jersey.
“I talked to six or seven doctors about [the shoulder injury], and it could go either way, and it was one of those things that I felt like should get fixed,” Bennett said Sunday. “And then after trying to get it fixed and getting waived, you just got that vengeance in your heart. You’re like, ‘All right, that’s how you’re going to do it? Then … let’s go ball.'”
Matthews, however, is skeptical of Bennett’s version of the details and is ready to move on.
“Like I said, we all know the story,” Matthews said. “We’ve got more than capable tight ends on the team who’ve been around here for a while. They’re more than up for the challenge, whatever it is, each and every week.”
Matthews joined current Packers players Jordy Nelson and Aaron Rodgers, who, among others, defended McKenzie. Former players also have spoken out on his behalf.
“My experience has been fantastic with Pat,” Matthews said. “I think he’s an awesome doc. I think he puts our health in front of the team first and foremost. In fact, I think a lot of people have gotten on his case because he’s too conservative. So I wouldn’t put much merit into those comments made. I think it really speaks volumes to hear everybody’s rebuttal and come to his aid in that regard as opposed to the other person.”