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'Savage' Bennett Looks To Fit In With Defense

Posted Mar 19, 2018

Michael Bennett is here to play football, to win another Super Bowl for the Eagles, and to have a lot of fun. “I’m always gonna trash talk out there because it’s fun ...

Michael Bennett is here to play football, to win another Super Bowl for the Eagles, and to have a lot of fun.

“I’m always gonna trash talk out there because it’s fun and I know the Eagles fans like that stuff,” Bennett said on Monday after holding a press conference with the Philadelphia media at the NovaCare Complex. “I’m super excited to be here. I look at the defensive line, this defense, and I see greatness. I want to be part of that.”

Bennett is just that, and a very large part after the Eagles acquired him in a trade with Seattle last week. He’s a three-time Pro Bowl player, a Super Bowl winner, and a relentless presence on the defensive line. The Eagles, not complacent after winning Super Bowl LII, have added Bennett and Haloti Ngata to the fold up front, with Vinny Curry and Beau Allen leaving in this free agency period. So, there is change. And some veterans are coming in, understanding that reps are going to be divided and that selfishness is not part of the plan.

That’s all just fine with Bennett. Yes, he wants to be "an all-star." He wants to be in the Pro Bowl and get his hands on quarterbacks and make plays every week. But he also knows that staying fresh for the postseason months is what this is all about.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about September or October,” Bennett said, “it’s about January and February. So, to be able to keep guys fresh and have that opportunity to be able to keep rushing the quarterback as savage as we can. You’ve got to go out there and play savage every single play and having less snaps can give you the opportunity to do that.”

Bennett, who flashed his Eagles defensive line memory by mentioning former end Juqua Parker during his press conference and former Eagles end Jason Babin afterward, used the term “savage” quite a bit in his one-day media tour – press conference as well as television and radio interviews – is an example of a player who took a draft snub the right way – he wasn’t selected in 2009 – and has used that lack of recognition as a catalyst for his career. The man plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s animated. He’s extremely, uh, confident on the field.

A young man coming out of Texas A&M was not drafted, yet he’s won a Super Bowl and has been honored as a Pro Bowl player and he’s been in the league 10 years. Impressive stuff.

“I just have always played with that chip on my shoulder,” he said after the press conference. “It’s helped make me who I am. I’ve used it as motivation every single day.”

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Bennett chose not to discuss his activism off the field, instead talking only football during his introduction to Philadelphia. With that, there is an air of electricity thinking about what’s ahead for Bennett as he joins a loaded Eagles defensive front with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Derek Barnett, and Steven Means. Jim Schwartz has multiplicity. The conventional thought right now is that Bennett could slide inside to tackle – he’s taken plenty of reps from that spot – and play alongside Cox flanked by Graham, Long, and Barnett, as they rotate. Maybe that’s how Schwartz plays it. You can be sure he will look at each combination in the spring and summer.

“If you look at Jim Schwartz, whether as a defensive coordinator or head coach, he’s always put the defensive line in position to be great,” Bennett said. “Whether it was in Detroit … wherever it was, he’s always had the defensive line be greater than the parts when it comes to having great rushers and I think this is no different. This situation, it plays to my hand to be around other great players and to have an opportunity to play with them.

“I think this (defensive line) can be one of the greatest. I think we can have one of the greatest defensive lines to ever play the game. I think a great defensive line is about the rotation. It’s kind of like Golden State (Warriors of the NBA). You want to be able to have those guys come in and shoot and shoot and score every time.”

Bennett should fit in well in the locker room. He’s a thoughtful man and one who has opinions. The Eagles encourage personalities in the locker room, and Bennett absolutely is his own man. He’s a strong leader, a highly productive player, and he’s ready to be “savage” for the Eagles as they gear up for another run in 2018.

“This is going to be a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and good football,” Bennett said on a day that he impressed with his intelligence and his understanding of the game and the big picture. For a guy who wasn’t drafted to be around the league 10 seasons later, that’s saying a lot. “It’s refreshing to be here. I can’t wait to get in with the guys and get this thing going.”

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