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Michael Bennett explains OTAs absence after 1st Eagles practice

Michael Bennett explains OTAs absence after 1st Eagles practice

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.”

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Kenny Chesney brings Eagles on stage at the Linc

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Cindy Webster/@CindyWeb94

Kenny Chesney brings Eagles on stage at the Linc

Anytime the Eagles are at the Linc, it's a party.

Saturday night, Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, Doug Pederson, Jeffrey Lurie and several other members of the Birds were in attendance for the Kenny Chesney concert. Oh, and the Lombardi Trophy was there too. 

Pederson, always a man of the people, led the crowd in an E-A-G-L-E-S chant.

Later, Chesney dedicated the song "Boys of Fall" to the Eagles and Lurie, Pederson and co. joined him on stage.  

"The first time I played 'Boys of Fall,' I wanted it to be in the stadium where they won the Super Bowl," Chesney said.

Yes, Lincoln Financial Field is really home to the Super Bowl champs. 

The Lombardi trophy belongs to the Eagles, and you better believe they're going to flaunt it in front of their fans whenever they have the chance.

Eagles practice far from its typical scene

Eagles practice far from its typical scene

It was anything but a normal day at the NovaCare Complex.

Upon entering the main gate Wednesday, extra security was everywhere to make sure each person was cleared to be on the grounds as more local and national media converged than we’ve seen since the day Michael Vick arrived.

You could tell the team spent plenty of time Tuesday at practice discussing how to handle the flood of journalists it was anticipating. When head coach Doug Pederson stepped to the podium to meet the masses, he made it immediately clear he was not here to discuss, in detail, why the team was disinvited to the White House (see story)

A few hours later when the locker room doors opened after practice, many players decided to disappear instead of facing questions. I can’t tell you the last time I saw so many players huddled in the trainer’s room or the player’s lounge. But the few who decided to face the music were the obvious ones like Malcolm Jenkins, who normally speaks so eloquently on social injustice and police brutality. However, he picked Wednesday to let his written words on cards express his opinions on the numerous questions and issues of why the team never met President Donald Trump (see story).

Zach Ertz stated he was disappointed but holds no ill will towards Fox News for the picture it inaccurately used of him kneeling (see story).

Brandon Brooks chose every word carefully when describing his views on the White House drama.

And to me, Jason Kelce, who has become quite the public speaker this year, gave the quote of the day when he said: “I didn’t win the Super Bowl to go to the White House."

The one team official I wanted to hear from was owner Jeff Lurie, who was not available to the media but made himself very visible walking around at practice.

And to think it was just days ago that we would go to Eagles practices to keep a close eye on Carson Wentz’s rehab and watch players develop. Now, whether they like it or not, the Eagles are at the center of a political firestorm. In due time, they’ll get back to just football. Players will be more than willing to talk again about trying to make the team and the chances of repeating as champions.

That day will come soon enough ... just not now.