Martellus Bennett injury could mean bigger role for Lance Kendricks

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett (80) draws pass interference from New Orleans Saints free safety Vonn Bell (48) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on Sunday, October 22, 2017 in Green Bay, Wis. 
Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

GREEN BAY - Tight end Martellus Bennett is seeking medical opinions for his injured shoulder, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Saturday.

Bennett, who last weekend announced plans to potentially retire at season’s end, missed the team’s past two practices because of his shoulder injury. McCarthy said Saturday he did not have an update on his veteran tight end’s status.

“We’re waiting on some information,” McCarthy said. “He’s still taking a visit or two. Hopefully, we’ll have more information today.”

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McCarthy said he first discussed the injury with Bennett after the Packers' practice Tuesday. Bennett’s absence from practice Thursday and Friday would suggest he’s unlikely to be available Monday night when the Packers host the Detroit Lions.

It would mean increased snaps for Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers, veterans who served as Bennett’s backup through the first seven games. Kendricks, especially, might benefit from more snaps. He has played fewer than 25 percent of the offensive snaps this season, while Bennett ranks fourth highest on the offense at 83.4 percent.

Kendricks said he’s ready for more playing time.

“I’m definitely comfortable,” Kendricks said. “I think just being able to go through a few game plans, especially with well-known opponents – like, divisional opponents – I think that helped a lot.

“I’m definitely confident, and I’m playing fast.”

Bennett was one of three players the Packers listed as doubtful Saturday, joined by outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (back) and defensive lineman Quinton Dial (chest). Cornerback Damarious Randall (illness) was listed as questionable, as was left guard Lane Taylor (ankle).

Inside linebacker Joe Thomas (ankle) was ruled out.

If Bennett is serious about retiring after this season – he declined to answer questions about the announcement Tuesday – more snaps from Kendricks could allow the Packers to evaluate the position’s future.

Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio said he didn’t have a conversation about retirement with Bennett before the announcement last weekend. He learned about it when someone told him of the announcement Bennett sent over his Instagram account, Angelichio said.

Bennett isn’t having one of his finer seasons. He uncharacteristically has struggled with drops, but Angelichio said he hasn’t noticed anything that would suggest declining play moving forward.

“I think he’s done a really good job with his blocking,” Angelichio said. “Certainly, a couple catches I’m sure he would like to have – that we’d like to have – but that’s part of the game, and he’s working on it. So it’s something that it’s not alarming from the standpoint of, ‘OK, has he all the sudden forgot?’

“I think he’ll continue to address it and work on it.”

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