FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — To step into Martellus Bennett’s world is to be in a place that is spontaneous and full of introspection.
In his first season in New England, the Patriots tight end has brought a mellow vibe and unique personality to an organization that usually shies away from individuality.
Yet as he prepares for the first AFC Championship Game of his nine-year career, Bennett could play a vital part in whether the Patriots top the Steelers on Sunday to earn the franchise’s ninth Super Bowl berth.
But the player who calls himself a ‘‘black unicorn” said he isn’t allowing himself to get caught up in any championship fantasies or letting the moment affect an approach that has been unchanged since he was traded by the Bears to the Patriots this offseason.
“The triple C’s is how I am: cool, calm and collected,” Bennett said. “Football is such a roller coaster that I just try to streamline my emotions.”
With Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve since early December after season-ending back surgery, Bennett, 29, has stepped up nicely. His career-high seven receiving touchdowns led the team during the regular season, and his 701 receiving yards were second to Julian Edelman’s 1,161.
Bennett has endeared himself to his new team in other ways. He has drawn the praise of the coaching staff by becoming a dependable blocker in the run game, and he has defended teammates during skirmishes.
The most notable example came during the Patriots’ 35-17 victory against the Bengals on Oct. 16, when Bennett got in Vontaze Burfict’s face after Burfict stepped on running back LeGarrette Blount.
In the locker room, Bennett has remained an engaging presence, which combined with his production has earned him respect from rookies to captains alike.
“I don’t have a word to describe his personality, but I can guarantee that every person in that locker room loves Marty,” Patriots linebacker and defensive captain Dont’a Hightower said. “The emotion and excitement that he brings in here is definitely much needed on a day-to-day basis because working here isn’t always the easiest thing or comfortable thing.”
Coach Bill Belichick says Bennett’s work ethic has also aided his fitting in.
“There’s a lot of mutual respect in there,” Belichick said. “Guys are different, but that’s OK.”
It also helps that Bennett is treating this year’s playoff run like it was his first, even though he did appear in two playoff games with the Cowboys during the 2009 season.
Bennett said he remembers nothing about that experience, but only because he thinks he didn’t have a full appreciation of it as a 22-year-old still learning about life in the NFL.
“I think the best way to say it is I don’t think I was totally present at the time,” he said. “I was young. Right now I’m totally present, and I’m in the moment. . . . It’s all about being in the now.”
On the backburner for Bennett are thoughts about his future in New England. Part of the reason he was traded after three seasons with the Bears (which included a Pro Bowl spot in 2014) was their unwillingness to offer him a contract extension.
“We’ll figure it out when it’s time to figure it out,” Bennett said. “But my family loves it here. I love being a part of this team, this organization and this city, so when it comes around, it comes around.”