Michael Bennett Debuts at Minicamp
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Veteran defensive lineman Michael Bennett made his long-awaited practice debut at the Eagles mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
Bennett typically misses voluntary work in the offseason and despite changing addresses from Seattle to Philadelphia and needing to learn a new defensive system, that didn't change.
“This is the only job in the world where it’s voluntary and people expect you to show up,” Bennett explained.
The 32-year-old claimed he would rather use his free time to become "a better father and husband."
For what it's worth the Eagles did not seem all that concerned with Bennett missing the on-field OTAs.
Before practice coach Doug Pederson indicated that the three-time Pro Bowl selection would be thrown into the deep end of the pool with the first team but Jim Schwartz was more measured than that, for the most part allowing Bennett to handle left defensive end duties behind Chris Long.
The starter there, Brandon Graham, remains out with offseason ankle surgery.
"It will be tough I think with three days of work," Pederson said when talking about Bennett. "Obviously he will be in there with the first unit, just understanding the defense and getting that down. He's a veteran guy, not worried too much about where he's out right now. It's exciting to have everybody out there and see all the pieces the next couple of days."
Bennett, who was acquired in a trade earlier this offseason from the Seahawks for receiver Marcus Johnson and a draft pick, believed things went well.
“I’m pretty comfortable just getting used to the different terminology,” he said. “They’re just going to move me around. One day you do something and the next day you do that. It’s just about learning the defense and trying to fit in the best way you can."
A versatile player, Bennett is penciled in as the starting right defensive end and may mix inside at times in obvious pass-rushing situations.
"He can play inside as well, play at tackle. Play defensive end," Pederson said. "We can move him around. ... Right now everybody is playing. We don't necessarily have a depth chart. All the guys are rotating in now. That's one of the things we tried to do this spring is keep everybody in the mix. I'm sure he will be inside and outside this week a bit. Just get a feel for it. Just trying to understand the defense and the terminology. How [defensive line coach] Chris [Wilson] is teaching that position."
One of the more outspoken players in football Bennett is also dealing with some legal issues, stemming from an incident after Super Bowl LI where he allegedly injured an elderly paraplegic security guard in Houston. Bennett’s arraignment in that case is scheduled for June 27 but has already been pushed back on two occasions.
The only other player to miss voluntary work was veteran running back Darren Sproles, who was also on hand but limited as he continues to recover from ACL surgery.
-With Sproles watching the rotation handling punts began with Nelson Agholor with Donnel Pumphrey, Rashard Davis, Bryce Treggs and Tim Wilson also getting looks.
-Sidney Jones was again held out of practice and will likely miss the rest of minicamp with what he described as soreness in the locker room after practice. Jones said the team was holding him back and just being cautious. He expects to be a full go at training camp.
-With Jones out, De'Vante Bausby got the first-team work in the slot, a day after DB coach Cory Undlin raved about how many plays Bausby made in the on-field OTAs.
-We also saw the "big nickel" with Malcolm Jenkins moving down to the slot and first-year player Tre Sullivan handling the Corey Graham role next to McLeod.
-Rodney McLeod picked off an errant Carson Wentz throw during 7-on-7 drills and the rehabbing QB answered by firing a Brett Favre-like bullet that Nelson Agholor held on for dear life to.
-Receiver Markus Wheaton is already one of the better route runners in Philadelphia and was having his way with the second- and third-team defensive backs.
-Nate Sudfeld to Dallas Goedert continues to be a spring sensation.
-Veteran linebacker LaRoy Reynolds took over Mychal Kendricks old No. 95 and is in this team's plans as a core-four coverage player on special teams.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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