GREEN BAY -- With the release of Martellus Bennett, the Packers are down to just two tight ends on their roster, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy emphasized he'll have to "be smart" with how he uses Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers the rest of the season because there currently are no other reinforcements at the position.
"We had three veteran tight ends on the roster, now we're down to two, so you adjust the way you do things, the way you game plan and the way you move forward," McCarthy said prior to Thursday's practice. "But that’s another challenge in an NFL season. Every team goes through it. Every coach has to adjust, and we’re doing the same."
Thus far in 2017, Kendricks and Rodgers have combined for just 12 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown, but those numbers are virtually certain to go up. They'll also be called on to block more in the running game, as Bennett was the group's most accomplished blocker, but McCarthy will be cautious about overworking them, with no desire to get any thinner at the position.
"We have two quality tight ends we really believe in," McCarthy said. "We're going to use both of those guys moving forward, and only having two, you have to be smart."
As for Bennett's release, which came on Wednesday with the designation of a failure to disclose a physical condition, McCarthy did not shed any light on the particulars. He did not confirm whether the shoulder injury, which kept Bennett out of practice last week and out of Monday night's game vs. Detroit, was the condition that led to the designation.
McCarthy has always felt the specifics of injury situations need to come from the players, out of respect for their health privacy. Bennett had not spoken to the media for several weeks, and not since announcing on his Instagram account over the bye week that he was considering retirement after this season.
McCarthy became aware of the shoulder injury during the Packers' first practice after their bye, last Tuesday. Asked if there was any connection between Bennett's retirement talk and an injury suddenly cropping up, McCarthy declined to comment.
"I don’t have the answers to your questions outside of the fact that it was an injury situation and I enjoyed working with him in his time here," McCarthy said.
"You can’t deny the facts of the timeline, but to tie all that together, you're asking me to get inside somebody else’s feelings and conversations, more on a personal level. Everything leading up to that, I can’t really comment on it; we went down injury path, and here we are today. It would be all speculation."