It's been a difficult year for Michael Bennett. A frustrating first month, some challenging changes, a hard, honest look at himself and finally some of the best football of his career.
Bennett had just one sack after five games and was frustrated with his lack of playing time, but he has seven sacks in the Eagles' last nine games and has been dominating lately.
He might not be a Pro Bowler, but he's been playing like one.
After practice on Thursday, the 33-year-old defensive end reflected on his season. In Part 1 of our Q&A with Bennett, the veteran defensive lineman talks about his Pro Bowl snub and the challenges he faced early in his first year with the Eagles.
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You can find Part 2 of our Bennett Q&A here.
Q: "Were you disappointed you didn't make the Pro Bowl team?"
A: "I think not starting at the beginning of the season is the reason why you don't have a chance to be there, but to me it's one of my best seasons because I felt like there was a lot of adversity, a lot of change for me. I switched from being on the left to doing it on the right and I still made plays. So for me, I feel like it was a productive season. Quarterback hits, pressures and tackles for loss, I was leading (the team) in a lot of those categories, and I think it's just exciting, actually. And I think next year's going to be even better. I don't know if I'm going to be next year, but if I am here."
Q: "What made this year so challenging?"
A: "Just transitioning in my career later on. I'm transitioning to a whole new organization, having to move my family, having to come to a new system. I'm used to certain ways of playing the game and then having to find a boundary of where that is. I think for me as a player you give so much to a team and an organization and you wonder to yourself, ‘Am I able to give myself at that level? Am I able to give to my teammates? Am I able to give to the city the way I gave to another city?' And I think for me that was really hard, to find that place, to kind of find that balance of moving on, and I had to be able to move on from Seattle and be able to come here, so there was a lot of adversity for me personally. So at the beginning of the season I was kind of finding my way. Like, ‘Where do I fit in?' Then I had to just be like, ‘No, I've just got to be me and just keep pushing forward.'"
Q: "Have you done that?"
A: "I think I've done a great job of that. I think I've embraced the city. I love Philly, I love the organization, I love the fans here, and I think the fans like me here, so it's becoming my own now, you know? And I'm excited about the possibilities."
Q: "When did things start to click?"
A: "I think after Week 3, after Week 4, it was just hard. Because I wasn't playing and I wasn't used to not playing. At critical moments I'm just sitting on the sidelines like, ‘I got skills! And I'm over here! And I can do this! Put me in the game!' Once they started putting me in the game things started flowing my way, and I feel way more comfortable now."
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