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New England Patriots TE Martellus Bennett focused on field, not contract

By The Sports Xchange
New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett (88) pulls in a 20-yard touchdown reception as teammate Chris Hogan (15) celebrates n the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on September 18, 2016. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI
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Tight end Martellus Bennett had just one reception for 14 yards on two targets in the win over the San Francisco 49ers, despite the fact that New England Patriots played without All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski (chest).
Even with the quiet performance, Bennett is having an impressive first season in New England in which he tied for second on the team with 39 receptions, third on the team with 518 yards and tied for the team lead with four touchdown catches.
According to NFL Network, Bennett's future in New England - he's set to be a free agent after the year - will be an "offseason priority" for the team in an effort to retain the former Pro Bowler.
"My money's good," Bennett responded in typically unique way when asked about his financial future following Sunday's win. "I'm just going through every game and playing football. When they address it, they address it. If they don't, I'm not really worried about it. I have a diverse portfolio, so I'm not really tripping about that. I'm not really worried about that right now. I'm just trying to make plays and continue to play really good football."
--DE Jabaal Sheard started the first eight games of the season for New England. With Chandler Jones' trade in the offseason, the veteran was expected to step up in his second fall in Foxborough. But somewhere along the way, things have gotten off track.
Following the bye week, Sheard played just 16 snaps in the loss to the Seahawks, not seeing the field until the final play of the first quarter. This week, he didn't even make the trip to San Francisco, remaining back in New England as a healthy scratch.
"Well, Jabaal was inactive. So ... that's why he wasn't in San Francisco," Belichick initially said of the decision.
Pressed on the matter, Belichick did little to shed light on the surprising slide down the depth chart for a guy who had eight sacks a year ago and had been considered in line for a potential contract extension as he heads toward free agency.
"As I think I've said on dozens of occasions, every decision we make here is based on what's best for the football team," Belichick said.
A follow-up question wondered if Sheard has a "clean slate and an opportunity to get back into the mix this week" against the Jets. Belichick did anything but declare that would be the case.
"As I already said, we're going to make the decisions that we feel like are best for the football team -- last week, this week, next week, every week. I don't know how I could put it any differently. Last year. The year before that. Five years before that. Ten years before that. Fifteen years before that. I don't really understand ... where the, ah ... I don't understand why that's hard to understand."
--SS Patrick Chung had a game-high eight tackles in the win over the 49ers, including his first sack of the season on San Francisco's opening possession. Coming off the right side of the defensive front, Chung's sack forced the first of what would be five three-and-outs for the home offense.
According to Bill Belichick it's just the latest in a long list of impressive performances from his veteran defensive back who leads New England with 60 tackles on the season.
"Patrick played well, played productively, pretty much as he always does," Belichick said. "He gives us that week after week. He makes plays in the kicking game. He makes plays in the running game. He makes plays in the passing game. He's a good tackler. He's around the ball. He's just a productive player. Seems like it's pretty much like that every week."
In regard to the 12-yard, punt-forcing sack of Colin Kaepernick, Belichick praised his safety's ability to bring down a pretty athletic, elusive quarterback.
"I'd say the harder part of the play was tackling the quarterback," Belichick said, downplaying any disguising or timing that went into it.
"We've had a number of situations this year where we've been in that situation where we've had players coming unblocked off the edge and we just weren't able to get the quarterback. He escaped somehow. Kaepernick almost got out of there on that one too. Patrick kind of wrapped him up around the leg or ankle and then somebody else was there to kind of help finish the play.
"It was another good tackle. And Chung's one of our best tacklers. He's got to be one of the best tacklers in the league, whether he's in line or in space or wherever he's tackling. He's very good. I thought that was a very good tackle on the play and not an easy one."
--DT Alan Branch has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's drug policy, according to ESPN. Branch reportedly tested positive for marijuana and is appealing the suspension.
Branch had started all 10 games at defensive tackle for the Patriots this season, recording 32 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
New England Patriots TE Martellus Bennett focused on field, not contract Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 12:15 AM Rating: 5

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