Michael Bennett met with the media following the Seahawks' practice on Monday afternoon at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Here's three things we learned from the Seahawks defensive end:
1. He Feels Like He's "Got A New Toe"
Bennett spent time away from the team last week seeing a specialist for a toe injury that has bothered him for about the past eight years, a "long time" as Bennett put it. Bennett said it's part of a regularly scheduled treatment he undergoes prior to the start of each regular season, and one that "always works out really well."
"I feel great," Bennett said. "I feel like I've got a new toe, so I feel real good."
Bennett wasn't aware of the medical term behind the toe injury that at times has kept him from practicing during the year, labeling it "ballerina toe." But no matter what the correct name for the injury may be, it obviously hasn't hindered Bennett's ability in recent seasons with the Seahawks, as he remains one of the NFL's top pass rushers, totaling a team-high 10.0 sacks last season and earning his first Pro Bowl nod.
"I mean I think at this point in my career, I think injuries are just part of the game," said Bennett, who's entering his eighth NFL season. "I think there's players who can play through injuries and there's players who can't. I think I've proven I can play through whatever pain I have and that's just what I continuously do. You'll never tell the difference. I'll always play as hard as I can and that's all that matters."
2. He's Looking Forward To Facing A Fellow Aggie
Seattle matches up with Miami in the 2016 regular-season opener this Sunday, Sept. 11 at CenturyLink Field, where Bennett will line up and attempt to sack one of his former teammates at Texas A&M: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"It's cool it's the first game," Bennett said. "I get a chance to go against Tannehill. Obviously he was in school when I was in school. He was a receiver though. I've always wanted to hit him and now he's playing quarterback for the Miami Dolphins."
Despite wanting to lay a hit on Tannehill, Bennett said he has always been a fan of the Miami signal caller.
"Tannehill was the best athlete at our school," he said. "Better than Von [Miller], better than me. My brother would argue that, but Tannehill was one of the best athletes I've even seen. He ran a 4.4, he could do every type of dunk. He was just cool. He was just a smooth cool guy. I've always liked Tannehill. I like him. He went to the same school as me.
"I'm not going to like him on Sunday, that's a whole different story. I like him as a guy, he was always a good guy to me."
3. He Thinks Jeremy Lane Has The Right To Protest
Jeremy Lane remained seated during the national anthem of the team's preseason finale last Thursday against the Raiders in Oakland, with the Seahawks cornerback saying after the game that he's supporting the recent actions of Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is protesting what he feels is racial injustice in America by kneeling during the national anthem.
"I think it's his right to be able to protest and I think it's all right," Bennett said of Lane. "I think there's definitely some issues in America that a lot of people are starting to recognize. I think people have recognized them before, but I think with social media and the things that are going out, media outlets, everybody has a chance to really show what is going on and their ideas and having a chance to really protest what they think is wrong with America. That's OK. That's what it's about. It's about people having that right to have that voice and I think it's cool Jeremy Lane is doing what he wants to do. Obviously, there's so much going on right now in America. Football is just a small part of what we do. At the end of the day we'll be football players for 12 years, or 10 years or whatever it is, but at the end of the day we're still minorities, black men in America and that's what we're going to be for the rest of our life. And if you want to protest about things that are going on, that's fine."
Bennett said Seahawks players have conversations about social issues on a daily basis.
"I think those conversations come up every day," he said. "It's very relevant right now. It's been relevant for years, but I think now, like I said, it's seen on cameras, there's so many ways to see videos and I think people are just seeing it more. It's not just the African American players, it's the white players too. They all see it and we talk about it and it's good. It's good that we can have a conversation about it and people don't get angry and people understand where people are coming from, and you just understand both sides of it."
Bennett also noted that head coach Pete Carroll encourages his players to pay attention to issues going on in the world outside of football.
"I think coach Carroll is a coach that definitely understands what's going on," Bennett said. "He wants us to pay attention to what's going on and what's going on in society. A lot of times we start our meetings about things that are going on in the world whether it's CNN or politics or sports around the world. We're always talking about something and I think that's how we stay human as athletes. We still have that feeling of what's going on. We talk about it within our coaching staff or our coaching rooms. It's just something we should always talk about. We should always want to be more human and be more humane."