New England isn’t for everyone.
Even some of the greatest players who’ve come to the Patriots over the years have had difficulty adjusting both to the culture and the scheme.
Others, however, have transitioned so seamlessly that they’ve made it look easy.
Michael Bennett appears, at this point, to be someone who falls in the latter category.
Since his arrival via trade this past offseason, the veteran defensive lineman has looked and sounded very comfortable with himself and his role on the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
Bennett entered the league as an undrafted player in 2009 and has played for four different organizations, now including the Patriots, and several different defensive schemes. Yet, he’s worked his way into one of the most productive players at his position year in and year out.
The secret to his success, he claims, is no secret at all.
“I think it’s all the same. I’ve played in all different defenses. It’s about trying to make the best of each position, finding out how to dominate that position. It takes a little time, but once you figure it out, that’s the best part of it,” Bennett told reporters after Tuesday’s training camp session.
“It’s easy when you’re in the same defense for a long period of time, but then you go to another defense and do it again, it’s a great challenge. I think, later in your career, if you’re in the same position and doing the same things, it doesn’t allow you to grow. So, when you get to a team that’s pushing you to do different things, it kind of allows you to grow. I think this is a good opportunity for me… and it’s fun.”
Bennett is clearly having fun when he talks with the media – something his brother, Martellus, also did when he played for the Patriots in recent seasons. The elder Bennett, who’s in uniform nowadays, is equally comfortable in his own skin and not afraid to answer questions frankly.
For instance, how does Bennett feel his skill set fits with New England’s defensive philosophy?
“Did you just see me out there [at practice] right now? I think it’s been going pretty good,” he smiled. “It’s always good. I look forward to a challenge. I’ve never been in a defense where I didn’t play good, so I feel like I’m just going to go out there and just do the best I can really.
“I think [the coaches] just want me to do what I do well, but do it in the scheme of what we’re doing. They’re not asking me to do something I’m uncomfortable with.”
Bennett pointed out that he’s played nearly all the various techniques along the d-line throughout his career.
“It’s all the same to me really,” he added. “It’s just lining up and dominating the person in front of you, and just having more will than he has, and just doing it play-in and play-out and doing it with your teammates.
"Football takes care of itself, but building that camaraderie with your teammates, that’s the most important thing for me on this team, is to earn everybody’s trust. From the top of the organization, to the media stuff, to the training stuff, just to let them know what type of individual I am and try to do that every single day."
No, New England isn't for everyone, but so far, Bennett seems to be fitting in just fine.