After his first practice as a member of the Eagles, Michael Bennett spent a few moments chatting with owner Jeff Lurie. Catching up.
See, Bennett was with the Eagles earlier this spring, but skipped the team’s voluntary OTAs before reporting to mandatory camp on Monday morning.
The 32-year-old NFL veteran had a pretty simple reason for skipping OTAs: they’re voluntary.
“It’s the only job in the world that’s voluntary that people expect you to show up,” Bennett said, after he finally left Lurie’s side. “For me, the offseason is always about how to be a better parent and a better husband. So every year, I work with my kids, teaching them after school, coaching basketball, doing whatever I can. That’s the best thing about the offseason.”
Even during his time in Seattle, Bennett skipped the voluntary workouts. Maybe it’s more troubling now that he’s trying to fit into a new defense in Philly, but his coaches didn’t seem too worried. Neither did his teammates.
In fact, Bennett said he had been texting with some of his fellow defensive linemen like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham during his time away from the team. Bennett said he wants to first know his teammates as men before he knows them as football players.
Tuesday was just Day 1 for Bennett in an Eagles uniform, but he already seems to be fitting in. He already feels “pretty comfortable” with the playbook and seems to be a logical fit in the locker room.
“I think the culture is just one of a kind,” Bennett said. “I think we have a lot of great coaches, obviously. But then the coaches are all about family, about team and you see it throughout the organization. Whether it’s the equipment guys, training staff, everybody is about the team, that family.”
It’s pretty easy to see how Bennett should fit with the Eagles on the field. He’s a versatile Pro Bowl defensive end who should be able to add to a group that was already one of the best in the NFL.
He took second-team reps at defensive end on Tuesday, but head coach Doug Pederson said Bennett will be worked in with the first team during this mandatory minicamp. After all, the Eagles didn’t trade for Bennett to make him a spectator.
“I think coming here, you want to be an All-Star just like you’ve been,” Bennett said. “You want to be one of the top players in the league and you come in with that. I think the organization is expecting that. They’re not expecting me to come in and sit back. They’re expecting me to come in and dominate on the field and that’s my job. Obviously, every day I take the field, that’s my mindset.”
Off the field, Bennett is facing felony charges for injury to the elderly, stemming from an incident after Super Bowl LI. The 32-year-old didn’t want to talk too much about the incident, saying he’ll let his lawyer handle it for him.
Aside from the court case, Bennett has never shied away from the public spotlight or from being outspoken about politics, race and other important issues. He also plans on becoming a part of the community in Philly.
“I think you just want to be a great citizen,” he said. “When you come into a city, you want to feel the atmosphere of the city. You want to visit schools, you want to visit people, eat the food and just immerse yourself in the culture. It’s a new culture for me, coming from Seattle. It’s a whole different vibe and I’m liking it. I think it’s an opportunity to grow as a person and grow with my family in a new situation.”