FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran defensive end Michael Bennett has been excused for the first three days of New England Patriots training camp for “personal reasons,” director of player personnel Nick Caserio said on Saturday.
The Patriots acquired Bennett, 33, in a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles on March 14, and are counting on him to help fill the void created by the free-agent departure of Trey Flowers, who led the team in sacks last season with 7.5.
Caserio didn’t detail what is keeping Bennett away, saying, “Michael has been great to work with, so we’ll leave it at that. I really don’t want to get into it any further.”
Bennett didn’t take part in the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program — he has a residence in Hawaii — but had been present for mandatory minicamp in early June.
He said back then that he was excited for the “opportunity to play with so many great players on defense,” while acknowledging that he had been caught off guard by the trade to New England. After speaking to head coach Bill Belichick, he said that he liked the idea of playing for a team that was competing for championships, as well as being in the same locker room that one of his favorite all-time players, Richard Seymour, used to call home.
Bennett has played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-12) Seattle Seahawks (2013-17) and Eagles (2018). After losing Flowers to the Lions in free agency, the Patriots acquired Bennett and a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for a fifth-rounder.
Meanwhile, running back Sony Michel practiced for the first time Saturday after undergoing a knee scope in the offseason. Michel, who projects as the Patriots’ top option at running back, had opened camp on the active/physically unable to perform list.
Caserio also answered questions from reporters for the first time since he was blocked from interviewing for the Houston Texans‘ general manager opening. He deflected one query asking whether he was disappointed to not have the opportunity to interview, before saying, “Right now my focus is on his football team. … I’m happy to be here and I love what I do on a day-to-day basis.”