GREEN BAY — When asked about Martellus Bennett’s unexpected bye week rumination that he’s “pretty sure” he will retire at the end of the season on Tuesday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy deferred to his usually talkative tight end.
“It’s something you should talk to Marty about,” McCarthy said.
Bennett made a brief appearance in the locker room near the end of the media-access period but managed only a one-word answer when asked why he was contemplating retirement.
“Life,” Bennett replied as he exited the locker room.
The 30-year-old Bennett has contributed as a run-blocker but has been up-and-down as a receiver in his first season with the Packers, having caught 24 passes for 233 yards and no touchdowns entering Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. During the bye week, Bennett posted to his Instagram account that he’d talked with his family and was “pretty sure” he would call it a career after 10 seasons.
Asked if he intended to speak with the media later in the week, Bennett replied, “Probably not.” Asked why, he said simply, “Nothing to talk about.”
McCarthy wouldn’t say whether Bennett explained himself to the team or his coaches upon returning to work Tuesday, although Bennett did participate in the practice inside the Don Hutson Center.
“I think anytime comments are made, you should probably speak to the individual,” McCarthy said. “I’m not going to speak on anybody’s future plans and so forth. But there’ll be a point to sit down and talk to Marty. But it was the bye week, like I said. I can’t really speak on it.”
If Bennett, who signed a three-year, $21 million free agent deal in March, does retire, he’ll be leaving nearly $13 million of potential earnings on the table and would also be in danger of the Packers going after the final two years’ worth of his $6.3 million signing bonus, or $4.2 million.
Sidelined since pulling his hamstring on Oct. 8 at Dallas, safety Morgan Burnett didn’t want to make too much out of one practice. Nevertheless, having missed the past two games, even Tuesday’s workout qualified as progress.
“It was good,” Burnett said. “We didn’t do much, but I felt good.”
The Packers are hoping Burnett’s potential return stabilizes the defense, which has had communication issues and uneven play since his departure. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been handling the helmet headset since Burnett’s injury, and in their pre-bye loss to New Orleans on Oct. 22, the Packers had only 10 men on the field on a Drew Brees touchdown pass.
Five players were not able to practice: Outside linebacker Nick Perry (undisclosed), safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), inside linebacker Joe Thomas (ankle), outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (back) and defensive lineman Quinton Dial (chest).
Meanwhile, ex-University of Wisconsin linebacker Vince Biegel (foot) practiced and appears ready to be activated from the physically unable to perform list, although McCarthy wouldn’t say if or when that will happen.
“I thought he did a nice job practicing going into the New Orleans game,” McCarthy said. “He’s going to have an opportunity to compete, and then we’ll make the decision whether to bring him up to the 53(-man roster), and then from that you make the decision on the (game-day) 46.”
Rules of engagement
Inside linebacker Blake Martinez, the team’s leading tackler, had an eventful bye week by getting engaged to his longtime girlfriend during a trip to New York City. An admitted workaholic, Martinez watched tape during the bye but also slept in until 10 a.m. a few days.
Asked about how he popped the question, Martinez beamed.
“I planned it for the past couple weeks now. We did it in Rockefeller Plaza, (at) Bar 65, 65 floors up,” Martinez said. “We got to the end of dinner, I went to the bathroom, gave myself a pep talk — ‘OK, Blake you can do this, don’t be nervous’ — because at first I was like, ‘OK, this can’t be too bad. I talk in front of crowds, those types of things.’ And then it hit me, I was like ‘Oh, gosh.’ Nervous, shaking. I haven’t felt this since I was in elementary school.
“She (had) wanted a jersey of mine, so I put ‘Mrs. Martinez’ on the back, gave it to her and then basically proposed to her right after that. Obviously (she) was extremely excited and said ‘Yes.’ ”