Martellus Bennett sometimes will send out-of-the-blue texts to his teammates with random thoughts or ideas. Sometimes he'll just let them know he's thinking of them. He's even been known to drop a few lines to Eli Manning early in the morning.
"Hey," he said he'll write, "I'm happy to be your teammate."
Aww. It's nice to see Bennett happy after a relatively uneven and sometimes miserable four years in Dallas. And it's cute to see him cozying up to his new teammates and finding acceptance here with the Giants, unlike the Cowboys.
He regales the media and his teammates with charming metaphors and anecdotes, gives himself clever nicknames, and leaps from thought to mercurial thought as if he's playing hopscotch.
But Bennett knows that the Giants didn't sign him to be a friend. They signed him to be a productive player, something he wasn't -- he would say wasn't allowed to be -- with Dallas. He knows that if he can't help the Giants move the sticks, no one will care about his shtick.
"This is just who I am, but who I really want to show, and not being funny, I just want to show being a dominant football player," Bennett said Saturday. "I mean, the funny [stuff] is cool. But it's not what I'm here for. I'm here to make big plays."
Who better to start doing that against than the Cowboys, his former team -- the one he was referring to when he opened training camp by announcing he wanted to kick their butts?
He's given himself the nickname "The Black Unicorn" with the Giants, but in four years with the Cowboys, he was the black sheep of the offense. As a backup to Jason Witten, he caught 85 passes, including four for touchdowns (all in his rookie year). Cowboys coach Jason Garrett Saturday referred to Bennett as a "complementary" player and said the Cowboys "played to his strengths" by using him mostly in the run game.
The Giants would like him to be just the opposite.
"He's a vertical threat and he can run up the field and he's proven to be a good blocker," Tom Coughlin said. "I would say for a man that size, it's a different type of threat [than the Giants have had in recent years]."
Bennett agrees with that.
"I'm super-excited to show who I am and the player I've always been that I never got a chance to show," Bennett said. "Sometimes the great books are covered up by the bad books, so, you know, somebody finally gets to take this great book off the shelf."
He was overshadowed by Witten when he was a Cowboy, and the irony that his first game against the Cowboys could be one of the few times Witten is unavailable is not lost on him. Witten suffered a lacerated spleen in the preseason opener. Although he has been doing some work on the field, his participation in Wednesday's opener is far from guaranteed.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he picked his spleen up and held it in his hand to try to run routes," Bennett said. "That's the kind of guy he is. He's a warrior."
Bennett said he learned a little of that toughness from Witten. He also picked up some other tips of the position. He noticed how Witten was best friends with Tony Romo, and Bennett is trying to develop that kind of a bond with Manning through the texts and other gestures.
"It's like having a new girlfriend," Bennett said.
Manning has always had close, trusting relationships with his tight ends on the field, including Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard in recent seasons. He may not have been warm and ticklish with Jeremy Shockey early in his career, but he did throw 19 touchdown passes to him, the third-most of any Giants receiver.
So Bennett will keep texting Manning and others, reminding them of how thrilled he is to be a Giant. That's something he never felt in Dallas. And even if he had, he wouldn't have been able to share it.
Asked if he ever sent lovey-dovey texts to Romo, Bennett chuckled. "No," he said. "I just got his number my last year on the team."