Anatomy of a Play: Cowboys' Bennett grows up

It was a game Dallas needed to win and they trailed the Redskins by three points. The Cowboys season would be defined by the remainder of the fourth quarter.

If you watched Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys on HBO this preseason, then you are familiar with rookie tight end Martellus Bennett. You also know that he wouldn't be the first person you'd go to when your season was on the line.

Anatomy of a Play

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Bennett was the free-spirited rookie who doted on his puppy in the first episode and later compared himself to Ghandi.

What Bennett was most famous for was his defiance of tight ends coach John Garrett. Coming out of Texas A&M, Bennett had a reputation for having a bad attitude. The Cowboys knew he would need to be coached hard when they drafted him in second round.

Garrett has done just that, riding Bennett for entire practices, nagging him about any little thing Bennett did wrong: "Buckle your chin strap," "Hold the ball tighter ... high and tight!", "Make it important Martellus." Bennett may not have wanted to hear it, but attention to detail is the key to success and longevity in the league.

HBO and NFL Films haven't been with the Cowboys every day during the regular season, so it's difficult to tell how Bennett is developing as a professional.

One way to find out is to look at Tony Romo's decision to throw Bennett the ball in that critical situation last weekend. With Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Jason Witten, and Marion Barber on the field, all in man-to-man coverage, would you opt for Martellus Bennett?

Romo showed the trust and confidence in the rookie and Bennett responded with one of the biggest plays of the year for the Cowboys.

Bennett was matched on Redskins rookie safety Chris Horton, who is a good coverage player. Bennett's route was exceptional, stutter-stepping Horton to the inside, to get Horton to stop his feet, and then bursting up the field to the outside.

Horton is faster than Bennett and remained in decent position to the inside, but Bennett's route gave Romo a place to throw the ball to the outside, away from Horton. Bennett made a veteran-like adjustment to the back-shoulder throw and hauled in his second career touchdown.

It was the kind of play that a rookie can build upon for the future. Now that Bennett has reaped the rewards of persistent coaching and attention to detail, he can continue to improve upon his game and harvest even more of his potential.

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