PATRIOTS DEFENSIVE LINEMAN MICHAEL BENNETT
July 28, 2019
Q: How would you describe your first practice as a Patriot?
MB: It was exciting. I think that being able to get out there on the field with those guys and spend the off-season with them, and finally get a chance to be on the field is good. All these guys, they're great players, and to finally get the chance to have some type of camaraderie with them is just a special opportunity.
Q: How important is the training camp grind in preparing you for the season? Is it a necessary evil?
MB: No, it's not an evil. I think it's important. I think it's important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, so when it's time for us to be in big moments like they're always in, that we have the bank to go back into because we put so much into it. I think it's important. Training camp is always fun. It's another time to get a chance to work with young guys, and you get a chance to work on your skills and prove yourself every day.
Q: What does it mean to you to join an organization like the Patriots?
MB: I'm just a lucky guy to be able to come into an organization with no added pressure. This is just a team, I mean, I always dreamed about getting a chance to play in that stadium. When I grew up, Adalius Thomas and Ty Law and all those guys were guys I looked up to, and it's just an honor to be able to walk into that place. Like I said before, I take every moment and I cherish every day like it's my last, and I just play as hard as I can.
Q: What's it been like working with Coach Jerod Mayo?
MB: I told Jerod that I'm not listening to him because we're the same age. No, but it's good because we came out at the same time in the draft and I remember him playing. We used to work the Ty Warren camp together, and now he's the coach. It's nice to have a young guy who knows the plays, who lived the defense, and he just knows. You trust the way that he plays because he played in the game and you know he knows the call. He was the leader before, so to have him in the huddle every single time, you can't let him down because he's been in the game.
Q: What are your expectations coming here?
MB: I don't really have any expectations. I think I want to come in and just work as hard as I can every single day. I think that's the only kind of expectation I have. I have an expectation of running hard, working hard, and just proving myself as a veteran player. I think my whole career I've always been doubted, and this is another opportunity to play under the lights again and just keep proving. I think as a defender – as a quarterback gets older, people think that they improve, whether it's Tom [Brady], whether it's Drew [Brees], or whether it's Phil [Rivers] – but the defenders, as you get older, people think you go down. So as a defender, if you get an opportunity to playing in the older ages, it's good to go out there and keep balling.
Q: How impressed are you by this defense?
MB: Oh yeah, it's impressive to just go out there and watch everybody play. I mean, this is my first day out, so I don't have much to say. So like I said, I'm just trying to play the game.
Q: Why did you miss the first three days of camp?
MB: Oh, I had a personal reason. I didn't retire, I heard everybody said that I retired. I was laughing at home – laughing – like no, I didn't retire. No, I just had a family issue that I had to go take care of. I was lucky Coach [Bill] Belichick – 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. 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.
Q: Do you feel like you have ground to make up because of the time you missed?
MB: No, I was still running and working out, so it's still the same thing.
Q: Why was it important for you to jump in right away when you got here?
MB: I mean, I just flew here this morning, so I just came right to practice. It's important – just the game. You want to prove to your teammates that you love the game. I grew up and this game has been a part of my life for over 20 years, so every time I step on the field and I've got teammates who believe in me, I just want to come out and show them that in every single moment, I'm going to try to go as hard as I can. When you're on a new team and you have to build new relationships, the only type of way to build new relationships is to show everyone the type of work ethic you've got, what you believe in, and how you carry yourself. Then, the relationship grows from there, especially when you've been in the league for a long time and you have to come to a new team. It's always good, you know you've got great leadership all over, and I'm just trying to learn from these guys.
Q: Is this team loaded defensively?
MB: I don't know. We've still got to go prove ourselves. There's a lot of great players, but every year is a new year, especially in this conference. A lot of teams are getting better so we've just got to go out and play as hard as we can.
Q: How surprised were you by the reports that you might retire?
MB: I don't know. I was surprised that people thought I would quit. I haven't quit on anything in a long time. I don't even quit when I play my daughter in checkers.
Q: Did you fly in from Hawaii this morning?
Q: Has it been a long day for you?
MB: It's still early over there, it's still nighttime over there, so it's good.
Q: What advice did your brother, Martellus Bennett, give you about playing here and for Coach [Bill] Belichick?
MB: He just said just do your job. I think he said that Coach Belichick is a great coach and he's always going to ask you to do more than what you're capable of doing, make you change positions or make you do things that you're not used to doing and work on every skill. I'm happy about that. That's all you can ask for as a player is a coach who wants to help you continue to get better and help you prove yourself over and over.
Q: Did you get any sleep on the plane ride over here before practice?
MB: I didn't get any sleep. I was on the plane. I didn't get that much sleep. It's hard to sleep on the plane.
Q: Were you at all concerned about what Bill Belichick's response would be when you reached out to him before you were given the excused absences?
MB: I think everybody's always concerned about how their boss is going to take into consideration if something happens back home, 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.
Q: How do you like taking part in the one-on-one drills? Do you feel that despite being a more veteran player you can still improve your skills during those periods?
MB: I always want to improve. That's the whole point of practice, is getting better. Like I said, when you're a defender in the league and you get older, people think that you're going to go down no matter how much you do. So, for me, it's working on the things I need to work on and going one-on-one is just a part of the game. That's the best part of it. Pass-rusher to me is one of the best things that you can do. It's one of the best parts of the game besides playing the run, but the opportunity to get after the quarterback every single day is what I live for honestly.
Q: Does it speak to how well-conditioned you are to be able to step back in here right away and contribute in a fully-padded practice on your first day?
MB: I just work as hard as I can every day, honestly. I think it's easy. It's practice. You've been playing this game, you know how to condition yourself. It's not easy to make it to 11 and 12 years in the NFL at defensive line, so when you are able to do that you just continually work hard in the off-season and you get a lot of young guys around you. When you've got great teammates, they help push you so it's good.
Q: What motivates you at this point in your career?
MB: What motivates me? I think winning. I think the opportunity to build teams – that's what's the best part of the game. When you have relationships – I love winning – but I also love to build a great relationship with new people and the opportunity to be put in new positions and try new things and keep improving myself as an individual, as a father, as a husband, as a businessman. The opportunity to have that growth – I've been comfortable in Seattle over there. 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 do doing and I want to improve on that.