Wide Receivers Coach, Green Bay Packers
Edgar Bennett begins his 20th NFL season in 2012, his 18th in Green Bay and his second as the Packers’ wide receivers coach after six seasons as running backs coach.
Named to his newest position on Feb. 25, 2011, by Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Bennett originally became a position coach on Jan. 28, 2005, for the running backs. He was re-named to that post on Jan. 17, 2006, for McCarthy’s first season at the helm. He continues his “third” Green Bay tour after initially rejoining the club to head player development (2001-04), and after a tenure as one of the most productive running backs in Green Bay history (1992-96).
To further enhance his mastery and understanding of the passing game, Bennett embraced his appointment to the front of the wide receivers’ meeting room in 2011. Under his watch, the group posted one of the most productive seasons in franchise history, setting new team records and finishing first in the NFL among receiving corps in yards (3,667), yards per game (229.2) and touchdowns (38). The touchdown total was the second highest in league history by a receiver group and all five players at the position posted 25 or more catches for the first time in franchise annals.
In what was a testament to the intense emphasis on ball security that marked Bennett’s career as a player and now as a coach, the receiver group did not commit a turnover in 2011, despite a combined 237 touches on offense.
On an individual level, Bennett helped guide Greg Jennings to his second consecutive Pro Bowl berth during a season that saw the sixth-year pro on pace for several career highs before a knee injury kept him out of the final three regular-season games. Additionally, he was instrumental in the development and emergence of fourth-year WR Jordy Nelson, who posted new career highs in every major statistical category and was named an alternate for the Pro Bowl. Nelson led the team with 68 catches for 1,263 yards and an impressive 15 touchdowns, the third most in team history. The TD mark ranked No. 3 in the NFL and his per-reception average of 18.6 yards was the second highest in the league among players with 50 or more catches in 2011.
Prior to his transition to becoming wide receivers coach, Bennett oversaw the development of several key running backs in Green Bay’s stable from 2005-10.
James Starks was a sixth-round draft pick in 2010 who missed all of training camp and the first 11 games of his rookie season recovering from a hamstring injury – this after missing his senior season in college following shoulder surgery. But when Starks was healthy, Bennett got him ready to go. He rushed for 73 yards in his NFL debut vs. San Francisco (Dec. 5) and added a franchise rookie playoff-record 123 yards in the NFC Wild Card game at Philadelphia (Jan. 9).
Starks was needed during the team’s stretch run because of a season-ending ankle injury to Ryan Grant in Week 1, who became just the third running back in team history to eclipse 1,200 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09. Grant rapidly progressed in 2007, his first season with the Packers, upon coming to the team in a trade at the end of training camp. Quickly brought up to speed under Bennett’s tutelage, Grant emerged from a backfield-by-committee to become the starter at midseason, went on to rush for nearly 1,000 yards (including five 100-yard performances), and then set Green Bay postseason records with 201 yards and three touchdowns in a playoff victory over Seattle.
In 2006, Bennett oversaw the strong recovery from a torn quadriceps tendon by Ahman Green, whose sixth 1,000-yard season set a franchise record.
In his first season as a full-time coach in 2005, Bennett saw the team start five halfbacks and feature six after season-ending injuries claimed Green and Najeh Davenport (ankle). A rib injury also sidelined No. 3 back Tony Fisher for two games.
Faced with steep adversity, Bennett took Samkon Gado, a non-drafted player fresh off the practice squad, and guided him to the second-most productive season by a rookie running back in franchise history. Gado, who had started only two games at Liberty University, ran for 582 yards, including three 100-yard games.
Initially joining the club as its director of player development April 10, 2001, Bennett spent four years helping players become acclimated to their roles as Green Bay Packers, both on and off the field, especially in terms of their expected contributions to their teammates, the community and team chemistry. Bennett’s efforts in this area were recognized in 2003 as the Packers’ player development department was named the best in the NFC.
Green Bay’s fourth-round draft selection in 1992, Bennett is the 10th-ranked rusher in Packers history. The former Florida State athlete gained 3,353 yards over his five seasons in green and gold (1992-96). In 1995, he became only the fifth player in team annals to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (1,067) and the first since Terdell Middleton in 1978. He also continues to hold the club single-season record for receptions by a running back with 78, set in 1994. His accomplishments were appropriately honored in 2005 upon his induction into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
After a torn Achilles’ heel suffered in the Packers’ 1997 preseason opener ended his season, a successfully rehabbed Bennett signed with Chicago as an unrestricted free agent in 1998 and led the Bears in rushing that season with 611 yards. After one more season with Chicago, Bennett retired from football in 2000.
A four-year starter at fullback for Florida State (1987, 1989-91), Bennett holds a bachelor’s degree in social science, with a primary emphasis in political science and a secondary emphasis in sociology. Previously, he was a first-team all-state back at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he played with former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who later also would be his teammate at FSU and in Green Bay. Bennett was inducted into the Florida State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Bennett and his wife, Mindy, have a son, Edgar IV, and a daughter, Elyse Morgan, and live in Green Bay. In 2003, he created the Edgar Bennett Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon, an event that brings together Packers players, coaches and staff. In recent years, the event has supported Families of Children with Cancer, a foundation that gives financial and social support to local families whose children are receiving treatments for cancer or bone marrow failure. The ’06 competition, which raised $58,500, saw a local sponsor roll a perfect game. In its initial year, the Bowl-A-Thon supported the March of Dimes. In May 2006, Bennett received the Nice Guy Award at the Doug Jirschele Sports Awards Banquet in Clintonville, Wis.