FOXBORO, Mass. — When Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett crossed paths at a gym this past winter, shortly before they became New England Patriots teammates, both had the same reaction.
It was the reaction most would have upon seeing either of the hulking tight ends.
“I first saw him, actually, I saw some big dude working out,” Gronkowski said Thursday. “I didn’t even know it was him. I knew who Martellus was and everything, but I just didn’t recognize him at the slight moment. I was like, ‘Man, that dude is huge.’ I was like, ‘Who is that?’ They were like, ‘That’s Martellus Bennett,’ and I was like — I looked at him again and I was like, ‘Damn, that dude is huge.’
“So I went up to him and talked to him and then, boom. (Within) the next few days, he was on our team. I was like, ‘Dang.’ We were just talking about how cool it would be and everything and (how) it would be great to work with him and everything. I know he’s been in the league longer than myself. We were just BS-ing around about how we could help each other out, how cool it would be to feed off each other and all, and it happened. It was very neat.”
Bennett, whom the Patriots acquired in March in a trade with the Chicago Bears, had similar recollections of that first meeting.
“It was actually in a gym,” he said. “(Gronkowski) was like, ‘Did you sweat all that sweat? I thought I was the only guy who sweat like that.’ And I was like, ‘You’re not the only tight end who’s working, bro.’ But the same thing. I saw him, and I was like, ‘Man, he’s huge. This dude’s big, just like me.’ But it was just funny. We just hit it off from that day. We just told jokes and laughed and then finished the workout.”
Now, the Patriots are reaping the benefits of the tight ends’ freakish size and athleticism. Listed at 6-foot-6, 265 pounds and 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, respectively, Gronkowski and Bennett laid waste to the Cleveland Browns’ defense Sunday, teaming up to catch 11 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-13 Patriots win.
Both are big enough to outmuscle most defensive backs and fast enough to race past linebackers in coverage, presenting a nightmare scenario for defensive coordinators.
“It’s great working with him,” Gronkowski said of Bennett. “It’s great going out there with him. … If it’s Martellus going out there, if it’s myself going out there with Martellus, whatever it is, you’re always just trying to find mismatches, so it’s great going out there with him.”
Bennett has been the Patriots’ most productive offensive player through five weeks, while Gronk finally appears to be nearing full strength after sitting out New England’s first two games with a hamstring injury and playing a relatively minor role in Weeks 3 and 4.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images