Former Cowboys TE Bennett Excited With Chance To Start

IRVING, Texas – There are likely a few reasons why Martellus Bennett's career in Dallas didn't go as well as the Cowboys would've hoped for a second-round pick.

The biggest of them is likely because Jason Witten was always here, and never missed a game in Bennett's four seasons in Dallas.

So imagine the irony that could take place Wednesday night when the Giants and Cowboys square off in the NFL's regular-season opener at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands.

Bennett not only signed with the Giants in free agency, but is expected to start as New York's No. 1 tight end. Oddly enough, the very player that kept him from being the starter here in Dallas, will be a game-time decision and might have to miss his second game of his career.

 Witten's lacerated spleen injury will be evaluated on Tuesday morning before the team departs for New York. If he is not cleared to play by doctors, Witten will be held out for the first time since his rookie season in 2003 when he had a broken jaw.

As for Bennett, he knows nothing about Witten missing any action – because it never happened.

That's why the Giants tight end told the media in New York this week he fully expects Witten to be on the field when the game starts Wednesday night.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he picked up his spleen, held it in his hand and tried to run routes," Bennett told New York reporters this week. "That's the kind of guy he is."

But it's the same toughness that kept Witten on the field and in the game plan every week. It's also what kept Bennett as the backup his entire four years.

While he was a valuable blocker, Bennett never turned into the dynamic receiving threat the Cowboys hoped he'd be. In fact, his four touchdowns he caught as a rookie in 2008, remain the only four touchdowns he's caught in his career.

Ironically enough, Bennett caught a touchdown in the preseason opener with the Giants.

"The business of the NFL is that you can't keep everybody when their contracts run out," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We feel good about what Martellus did here. He's going to go up to New York and do a nice job for them. He's going to play a long time in this league."

High praise from his former coach and his new coach seems rather excited about Bennett's potential.

"Martellus had done a good job. He's come in here. He's learned the offense," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's been very energetic, he's had a smile on his face. He's worked hard and we're excited about seeing him play."

And Bennett also has the same excitement, not just about starting but also having a fresh start in New York.

"This has just been a great organization," Bennett told CBSSports. "From the team to the owners to the coaches, everyone has embraced me as a human being as well as a player. That's been the main thing. I could just be myself around these guys. I enjoy being around these guys and I think they enjoy being around me."

While Bennett is expected to be the Giants' starting tight end, the Cowboys will likely use John Phillips and James Hanna as the two tight ends if Witten can't play.

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