Michael Bennett wasn't on the practice field Tuesday because of an ankle injury, but the Seahawks' Pro Bowl defensive end was back with his team for mandatory minicamp after choosing to sit out most of the team's previous voluntary offseason workouts. Even after missing organized team activities, Bennett was in midseason form when it came to putting on an entertaining press conference for the media.
"I'm just a stand-up comedian for the rest of this week," Bennett said, referring to his injured ankle. "You guys are lucky. Most people pay a lot of money to see a comedian of my stature, so it should be fun."
Bennett does not, however, expect to have any issues being ready for camp, and said, "I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. I train harder than any guy out there. You put them next to me, I don't think they could keep up with my training. I change it up every year, I just do what I can. Plus I've got three daughters, so I always work as hard as I can for them."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is excited about what Bennett can bring to the team coming off of the best season of his NFL career, both as a player and a leader.
"Mike is one who will share his scars," Carroll said. "He's going to help other guys. He contributes to the whole team mentality by the way he brings it and the way he competes. We're going to ask everything of him. When he's back and well and healthy and all that, we're going to expect him to do everything, just like he always has. That's not too much to ask of him. He loves the game, he loves battling, he loves his team, and he gives it up and proves that every time we play. He has been a wonderful player for us."
Part of what impresses Carroll is the way Bennett has not allowed unhappiness with his contract to affect his play, turning in a Pro Bowl season in 2015.
"He did show me a lot, and I've told him how impressed I was with how he handled himself and how he was a leader in a very positive way, just like we'd have hoped," Carroll said… I have a lot of respect for Mike."
Bennett said real-life concerns are on his mind more than his contract.
"I pay more attention to things like Donald Trump and stuff like that, political campaigns going on right now, different things going on in the world," Bennett said. "Too much beef—people eating too much beef—stuff like that. I don't really pay attention to too many contracts. It'll make your stomach hurt. It's like seeing your favorite girlfriend get married to someone else."
Here's what Bennett had to say on a number of other topics:
On being at minicamp: "I just want to be a great teammate. Show up, show my support, do everything I need to do so that we can get back to Houston, Texas. I'm very motivated to get back to the Super Bowl. Obviously, it's in my hometown. So me and my brother (Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett), that's all we talk about. That's all it's about."
On having Chris Clemons back: "I think Chris Clemons is a missing piece from the organization, if you think about his tenacity, the way he plays the game. He's obviously one of the best pass rushers to play for the Seahawks in history if you think about it and he did everything possible when he was here and now he's back. He's filling the void of that spot where he's always been good at the right end. I think what me and Cliff [Avril] do together and adding Clem to it makes it even a better pass rush. Then you have Frank [Clark] coming up, he's growing into a great pass rusher. And of course Jordan [Hill] has always been Jordan, we just got to make sure he stays healthy because if we get him into some of those pivotal points in the season, he could really help us get past those bumps that we need to get past."
On Frank Clark: "Like I tell Frank all the time, I think Frank's going to be a $100 million player when you think about the money that's going into the NFL and his ability to rush and his ability to put it all together. When he puts it together, I think he'll be the best pass rusher to come to the Seahawks and I think he'll be one of the best defensive players in the NFL. I think he's one of the most talented players I've ever seen, he has the right mindset, he's very motivated. He just has to put it all together and when he does, I think he'll be an animal. He's already really good, he just has to keep figuring it out and keep developing and taking that next step."
On the passing of Muhammad Ali: "I don't think there's any athlete like him right now because every athlete is all about marketing and getting money. He was a different kind of athlete. He stood for what he stood for every day. His integrity never got pulled because of money. I think now athletes get pulled. Their integrity's never the same. It always comes down to money... Muhammad Ali was just different. He just stood up for the right things and he did it for the right reasons."
On if he thinks an athlete now could replicate Muhammad Ali's approach: "I think an athlete now could, but none of them want to. There's too much pressure. All anyone cares about is what's on their Twitter or Instagram. Guys-they think too much about what people think and Muhammad Ali definitely was a guy that didn't care about what people think. Even the greatest ones now, they still care about what people say about them on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, and all the other gram, grams—Golden Grams, candy grams and all that."
Photos from the first of three mandatory Seahawks minicamp practices held at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.