GREEN BAY — A cheesehead teetering atop his head, Martellus Bennett spoke of his desire to assimilate into the Green Bay Packers locker room.
The veteran tight end, now with his fifth NFL team, said he keeps the foam cheddar wedge in his locker just to remind his new teammates that he’s “part of the culture.”
So far, the loquacious Bennett and his effervescent personality have fit in just fine in an environment devoid of larger-than-life characters in recent years.
For nearly 30 minutes after Thursday’s first practice of training camp, Bennett held forth with reporters, handing out copies of his comic book (“Towelboy”), dropping names of his favorite authors (from Dr. Seuss to Eckhart Tolle), explaining his decision to crash in the locker room after he arrived in town at 3 a.m. Wednesday (“I couldn’t get too comfortable”) and discussing everything from CTE to the team book club he’s starting (first book: Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard) to his desire to be “the black Walt Disney” after his football career is over.
In a locker room where most players take cues from coach Mike McCarthy’s self-described “boring by design” approach, Bennett is decidedly different. Which, so far, the Packers like.
“We all like personality. This is a tough business,” McCarthy said. “You spend a lot of time (together), so creativity and laughter are definitely good things to have in your culture. He’s a big personality and I think he’s fitting in very well with our football team.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is among Bennett’s fans, but he cautioned that observers shouldn’t assume Bennett’s jocularity and creativity mean he’s not focused on football.
“The thing about Marty that we’re learning — and I think you guys will all learn — is, he’s always prepared,” Rodgers said. “He’s ready to go, if he’s gone three hours of sleep, up all night drawing pictures, watching Nickelodeon, or if he’s gotten seven, eight hours of sleep. I’m not worried about Marty or his preparation at all.”
For his part, Bennett said it makes “no sense” that some folks think being fun-loving and focused are mutually exclusive.
Photos: Big men, little bikes – Packers return to Lambeau Field for training camp
The Green Bay Packers' morning practice session began with a training camp tradition. Players rode the bikes of kids from Lambeau Field for about a block down to the practice field.
Coach Mike McCarthy joked that the bike ride might be the hardest thing his players have to do all day. He says today will be the best their bodies will feel for the next seven months over the long football season.
The Packers will practice in the morning for about a week, then switch to an evening schedule in advance of the "Family Night" practice at Lambeau on Aug. 5.
“I feel like getting your work done is fun. Just do it in a fun way,” Bennett said. “I’ve never not gotten my work done because I’m having fun.”
Being smart with 12
While Rodgers has not yet reached Brett Favre pitch-count territory, the Packers will monitor his throws throughout camp, as they always have.
McCarthy said coaches have monitored his number of throws a little more closely “the last couple of years” but said Rodgers doesn’t like sitting out practices so “him being on the field is important.”
Rodgers said it usually takes his arm about a week to feel the way he wants it to.
“I’m usually smart about the first week, as far as not getting too many (throws), but I’m competitive as well so I want to be out there for the reps,” Rodgers said. “I want to be on the same page as the young guys, the new guys. If there’s any issues with me throwing — of course, there usually aren’t — I’ll tell them. But no, I don’t really have any restrictions on me.”