GREEN BAY – Neither of the Packers’ two new tight ends believes it’s going to take long to develop a rapport with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Both Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks, signed by Green Bay as free agents last week, spoke with local media in separate conference calls on Tuesday, and they expressed confidence a connection with Rodgers will come quickly.
“Talking to Aaron the last couple days, a lot of communication on the field will be non-verbal, understanding each other’s body language,” said Bennett, who played with the Cowboys, Giants, and Bears before winning a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Patriots last season.
“I learned a lot from Tom last year about how to communicate better with the quarterback. I speak several different quarterback languages, and I just have to learn which one to speak to Aaron now.”
Kendricks, who joins the Packers after six seasons with the Rams, is already opening that line of communication. Over the last two years, he has trained in the offseason at the same Thousand Oaks, Calif., facility where Rodgers, Clay Matthews and David Bakhtiari work out as well.
“He was the first person to call me after he found out I signed,” Kendricks said. “The great thing is I can pick his brain about the scheme and things and probably run a few routes while we’re out here.”
Kendricks added that while with the Rams, he’d watch film of how Rodgers would try to draw opponents offside with his hard snap count and then try to take advantage of the free play.
“You try to understand how he thinks,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve played with a super-elite quarterback. I’m excited. It’s been a long time coming for me.”
The two free-agent acquisitions come to Green Bay from different places in their careers.
Coming off New England’s Super Bowl triumph, which was just his second playoff appearance in nine NFL seasons, Bennett wanted to continue playing with a contender.
On the flip side, Kendricks has never experienced a winning season as a pro after a successful college career with the Wisconsin Badgers, so that element was just as attractive as coming home for the Milwaukee native.
“That winning taste, there’s Chef Boyardee and then there’s an elegant chef who’s a five-star chef, and the food just tastes better when you’re a winner,” said Bennett, known to bring a different personality to the table from time to time. “I’m just interested in winning.”
Kendricks called himself “super-hungry.”
“To know this team has the potential to do great things and has already established themselves in this league as a top-tier team, it’s definitely motivational for me,” he said. “It makes me want to get up and work out every day.”
Kendricks was released by the Rams last Thursday and said the Packers were calling Friday morning before he even got up (in California, on Pacific time). By mid-afternoon, he was on a plane to Green Bay to discuss possibly signing.
“They were the first and only team to reach out to me. It happened so fast,” he said. “There wasn’t an opportunity for another team to even try.”
As for what Bennett and Kendricks might be able to do on the field together as a dynamic pair of tight ends, Bennett said as long as both are effective as blockers and pass-catchers, defenses will have a decision to make whether to have more coverage defenders or run-stoppers on the field.
“The defense has to show their cards a little earlier than they would,” Bennett said. “There are a lot of things you can do to move the tight end around to check the coverage and what the defense is trying to show you.”