Michael Bennett arrived in New England on Sunday morning, fresh off a red-eye flight from Hawaii.
The Patriots defensive end missed the first three practices with the team at training camp with an “excused absence.” He didn’t elaborate on why, other than saying he had a “family issue” and had to go back to his home in Hawaii.
What he did, though, was praise his new head coach for his understanding of the unusual situation.
“It’s nice when you have a coach that sees you as a human, sees you as a human being, not just a number and you’re able to go talk to him, tell him what’s going on and you’re able to go take care of it,” Bennett said of Bill Belichick, via ESPN. “That just makes you want to play harder for a coach, when he believes in you and lets you take care of your family first.”
Bennett was traded to the Patriots in March after spending one year with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he recorded 34 tackles and had two forced fumbles.
He’s only been with New England for a few months, but Bennett said he already has a tremendous respect for Belichick — who is entering his 20th season at the helm of Patriots organization. That, the 33-year-old said, makes him want to play even harder.
“I think everybody’s always concerned about how their boss is going to take into consideration if something happens back home,” Bennett said, via ESPN. “But when you have a boss who respects you as a man, it’s easy to go out there and play for him like that. I think for me, that’s easy to look him in the eye and whatever he asks me to do, I’ll do it simply because I know he respects me as a human being, and I respect that.”
Bennett’s longest stint with a single team in the league was with the Seattle Seahawks, where he played from 2013-2017. While he enjoyed his time there and loved winning in the Pacific Northwest — he helped lead the Seahawks to their Super Bowl win in 2014 — Bennett said he’s ready for the next challenge in his NFL career.
“I’ve been comfortable in Seattle over there,” Bennett said, via ESPN. “Now it’s time for me to take another step in something I can improve in, whatever they ask me to do, things I’m not used to doing, and I want to improve on that.”
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