Michael Bennett had to wait until he was 30 years old and seven seasons into his NFL career to play in his first Pro Bowl, but even if it took a while for everyone to appreciate the Seahawks defensive end's talents, he isn't going unnoticed anymore.
For the third straight year, Bennett will represent the Seahawks at the league's all-star showcase, having been named to the NFC squad Monday as a replacement for Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who will miss the game due to injury.
Bennett's addition to the NFC roster gives the Seahawks six Pro-Bowlers this year, joining safety Earl Thomas, linebacker Bobby Wagner, quarterback Russell Wilson, tight end Jimmy Graham and receiver Doug Baldwin, who like Bennett was initially selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate, but was added as an injury replacement earlier this month. While Wagner was selected for the Pro Bowl for a fourth straight year, he will not play in the game due to the hamstring injury that he played through for much of the second half of the season.
Bennett, who earned co-MVP honors along with Russell Wilson in his first Pro Bowl, led the Seahawks in tackles for loss (14) and quarterback hits (24), and was second on the team in sacks with 8.5. His tackle-for-loss total was tied for ninth best in the NFC and tied for 16th in the NFL, and he was tied for sixth in the NFC and tied for 10th league-wide in QB hits.
Bennett was able to start all 16 games in 2017 and be one of Seattle's most productive defensive players despite playing most of the season with a plantar fascia injury that caused him to regularly miss practice throughout the season after hurting his foot in a Week 5 win at Los Angeles.
"It's pretty remarkable—he has documented plantar fascia injury—that he has made it through this," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during the season. "He has not been able to practice very much because of it, but it has been a terrific challenge for him that he has really done a great job with."
In addition to his standout play on the field, Bennett was also Seattle's 2017 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for his significant positive impact on his community.
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett hosted 80 local Native American youth from the Lummi and Nooksack Tribes at team headquarters this past weekend, when following practice members of the Nooksack Drum Group performed a traditional "blanketing" ceremony to thank and recognize Michael's support of the tribe.