Less than a month away from the regular season, Patriots trade acquisition Michael Bennett is making his presence felt with his new teammates.
Michael Bennett didn’t see the field Thursday night in the New England Patriots‘ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.
Actually, that’s not entirely true in the literal sense of the word “see.” Bennett probably saw the field plenty from his spot on the New England bench, taking in the action purely from a spectator’s point of view. He just didn’t get in on any of it himself, which really wasn’t a surprise.
After all, Bennett is a 33-year-old veteran with a decade of experience playing in the NFL. Like Tom Brady, Sony Michel, James White, and the presumed starters along the Patriots’ offensive line, Bennett got the night off partly out of caution and partly out of deference to his status as a battle-tested veteran.
Make no mistake though – he didn’t need to play against the Lions to make a significant impression on his teammates or his coaches. And as fans, we should all be excited about that… because it speaks volumes about the kind of impact he could have defensively for this version of the Patriots in 2019.
“He’s been, I think, a really good teammate.” That’s longtime safety Devin McCourty talking to NESN’s Doug Kyed after Monday’s practice. “Obviously, a veteran guy, a guy that all of the younger guys can learn from. Obviously, he brings a lot of experience and you’ve watched him out there — he’s a really good player. It’s just fun to have him. It’s kind of like a family now that I know Marty and his family so well and now including Mike. We’ve had fun so far.”
“Marty” is of course Martellus Bennett, Michael Bennett’s younger brother who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. McCourty – whose own twin brother now plays alongside him in New England’s secondary – sees many similarities between the two Bennetts.
“(Michael’s) very similar to his brother, speaks his mind, always fun to be around him,” McCourty added.
Fellow safety Duron Harmon also noted the commonalities between the Bennett brothers in an interview with USA Today’s Henry McKenna.
“He’s like Marty. They’re the complete same,” Harmon said. “They’re huge human beings but they’re so soft-spoken. When they get on that field, they’re like monsters. They’re explosive, they’re fast, they’re strong. Everything you want from a football player — they’re it.”
Over the course a 10-year career that has included stops in Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Philadelphia, Bennett has proven time and time again just how much of a monster he can be against opposing offenses. The Patriots got to experience it firsthand in Super Bowl 49; though Bennett’s numbers didn’t exactly jump off the final stat-sheet from that game, the New England offensive line certainly had their hands full trying to keep Bennett and his fearsome peers away from Tom Brady and the Patriots’ running backs.
Now, the hope is that Bennett still has enough left in the tank to offset the free agency departure of Trey Flowers, who signed a massive deal with the Detroit Lions this past spring. Flowers was a steadying presence on the Pats’ defensive line, routinely leading the team in sacks and helping to set the edge against opposing rush offenses. If all goes according to plan, Bennett will now shoulder those responsibilities… and he may even represent an upgrade over Flowers.
“His insight is very great,” defensive end Deatrich Wise told McKenna on Monday. “From a guy who’s been in the league multiple years and has played different positions, he knows how to coach any position and any technique. He sees what his teammates are good at and what they’re lacking and he plays off that. So if someone’s good with their hands, use that. If someone’s faster or stronger, he tells them to use that strength. So he’s very intelligent when it comes to reading his teammates and helping them improve. And he’s intelligent at reading the defense.”
Wise is correct in noting the diverse and impressive array of skills at Bennett’s disposal. And he’s also not alone in noticing that large skill-set.
“Just going against a guy like that who has a whole toolbox of moves and is a vet, it keeps you on your toes,” presumptive left tackle Isaiah Wynn explained to McKenna. “Just being able to learn from him and pick up his moves — it’s been great.”
Pretty soon it won’t just be Patriots players seeing, feeling, and experiencing the impact of a dangerous playmaker like Michael Bennett. New England fans should be licking their chops at the prospect of watching Bennett terrorize opposing quarterbacks, running backs, and offensive linemen… and they’ll have their chance soon enough.
Bring on the regular season.