When Brandon Marshall is among the teammates urging you to calm down, it's probably best to rethink your strategy, and the Bears supplied veteran tight end Martellus Bennett with some time to do that.
Following an altercation with rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller at Monday's practice, Bennett has been fined and suspended for an indeterminate time period, the Bears announced on Twitter.
Per NFL rules, he faces up to four weeks unpaid suspension and a fine of one week's pay for conduct detrimental to the team.
"This is a process that we’re working with Martellus," general manager Phil Emery told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We are in contact with him. Our goal is to have Martellus back as soon as possible. He’s a very loved and respected teammate and we want him back. But it’s a process that we have to work through."
According to multiple reports from practice, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Bennett slammed Fuller to the ground after the first-round pick attempted to strip the ball, got his hand under the tight end's shoulder pads and sent him to the turf. Video of the incident shows multiple teammates restraining Bennett.
Of course, fights among teammates occur on a semi-regular basis in NFL training camps. As former Ravens coach and current Fox analyst Brian Billick said when scuffles broke out at Browns and Jets practices last week, "You know they're going to come up. You know there's a lot of emotion, but I made it clear. I said, 'Look, guys, that's fine if that happens, as long as you can handle it. As long as I don't have to get involved, we're fine, but if you can't get it under control, that tells me you can't in a critical situation control yourself.'"
While the disciplinary action, a rarity since fights in NFL practice are fairly routine, appears to stem from the altercation that could have injured Chicago's projected second-string corner, a column from the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs details a deeper seeded history of Bennett's poor practice habits.
"No one walks more when they're supposed to jog and jogs more when they're supposed to run after the play than Bennett," Biggs wrote.
"Every single play I'm scratching and fighting for everything," Bennett told Biggs, admitting this isn't the first such instance at practice. "Same way I play every single day. I play hard. I go hard every single day. I'm probably one of the most violent people on the field. That's just my style of play. That's how I'm going to play and continue to play the way I play, and that's what I'm here for."
Bennett reportedly sought out Fuller to shake his hand after their dust-up cut practice 10 minutes short, but the former seemed rather unapologetic in his dealings with the media afterward. Asked if he anticipated a fine, he told reporters, "I can afford it." (He signed a four-year, $20.4 million deal in 2013.)
"I come to training camp for one reason and that's to prepare to win a championship," Bennett said later at lunch. "I play hard and go hard every single day. I'm probably one of the most violent people on the field. That's just my style of play. I'm going to continue to play the same way I always play. That's what I'm here for.
"Everybody talks about friendships, but really we are all preparing to win a championship. If we make friends along the way, cool. But I'm just trying to help the Bears win a championship and do the job to the best of my ability.
"It's practice. Practice is practice. I know I sound like Allen Iverson right now, but it's practice. [Expletive] happens at practice. You learn from it. That's why it's practice."
Bennett hauled in 65 passes for 759 yards and five scores for the Bears last season.
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