FOXBORO, Mass. — Football is pretty simple if you listen to New England Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett describe the game.
It’s just about beating the guy in front of you. And he’s right. And that’s why he’s not worried about fitting into the Patriots’ defense, which appears to be shifting from a four-man front to a three-man defensive line.
“I think it’s all the same,” Bennett said. “I’ve played in all different defenses. It’s just about your attitude really and trying to make the best of each position and finding out how to dominate that position. It takes a little time, but once you figure it out, it’s the best part of it.
“I think later in your career, being in the same position and doing the same things doesn’t allow you to grow, so when you get into a position with a team that’s pushing you to do different things and becoming uncomfortable in it, it kind of allows you to grow in your own craft. I think this is a good opportunity for me to grow in my own craft, learning new defenses, learning new terminology, learning new players — it’s fun. I think it’s easy when you’re in the same defense for a long period of time to be great, but then to go to another defense and do it again, I think that’s a great challenge and I look forward to those types of challenges, especially now.”
Bennett was traded to the Patriots from the Philadelphia Eagles in March. He was with the Seattle Seahawks from 2013 to 2017 and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before that. So, he’s been around the block and played pretty much every position a defensive lineman could in the NFL.
“I think they just want me to do what I do well but do it in the scheme of what we’re doing,” Bennett said. “That’s the greatest thing about it. They’re not asking me to do something I’m uncomfortable with. I’ve played four-technique before, I’ve played five-technique, I’ve played nine, I’ve played zero, I’ve played one, I’ve played two — all of that. It’s all the same to me really. 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.”
At 6-foot-4, 274 pounds, Bennett likely will play defensive end on early downs and kick inside to defensive tackle in sub-packages. Since coming into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2009, Bennett has been one of the best complete defensive linemen in the NFL. And he knows it.
“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,” Bennett said.
Bennett has been a force in Patriots training camp practices. He could see his preseason debut in a Patriots uniform Saturday against the Titans after two days of joint practices in Tennessee.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images