Bennett feeling at home with Seahawks

Defensive end’s growth, versatility sparked Seattle’s interest, familiar faces helped usher him back to fold

Staff writerJune 4, 2013 

RENTON — Familiarity and comfort guided Michael Bennett’s return to the Pacific Northwest.

Signed as undrafted rookie free agent by Seattle in 2009, the Seahawks lost the Texas A&M product to Tampa Bay on a waiver wire claim midway through that regular season. The Seahawks released the relentless defensive end in order to add tackle Kyle Williams to help bolster an injury-plagued offensive line.

Bennett worked his way up the depth chart with his new team, earning regular playing time and eventually flourishing. Bennett finished the 2012 season with 41 tackles and led the Buccaneers with nine sacks.

But with his former defensive line coach Dan Quinn returning to Seattle to be the team’s defensive coordinator, along with good friend and fellow Texas A&M product Red Bryant being a cornerstone of the Seahawks’ defense, Bennett seized a chance to return to a place he felt at home. He signed a one-year, $4.8 million, prove-it deal in free agency to return to Seattle.

Bennett explained the attraction of coming back at the Seahawks training facility.

“Obviously, it’s the atmosphere, the players, the coaching staff and the way they treat you,” Bennett said. “They treat you like a man as long as you act like a man, and I appreciate that. The game is fun here, so I love everything about this organization.”

Quinn said he kept in contact with Bennett, even when he left Seattle to take the defensive coordinator job at the University of Florida.

“When I saw him, I was most impressed with the way he can use his hands,” Quinn said of the first time Bennett joined Seattle in 2009. “So it was such a good thing to see him develop as a pass rusher, because he had good initial quickness and the strength to do that.”

At 6-4 and 275 pounds, the Seahawks like

Bennett’s versatility. Quinn’s training all the team’s defensive linemen to play at least two different positions. But Bennett will learn three spots on Seattle’s line – the Leo defensive end on first and second downs, pass-rushing defensive tackle on third downs and also strong-side defensive end – Bryant’s position.

“That’s the big thing for me,” Quinn said. “We’re trying to train everybody to play two spots, so he’s taking it a step further.”

Seahawks defensive line coach Travis Jones, who served as New Orleans’ assistant defensive line coach for five seasons before joining Seattle, watched Bennett play twice a year with NFC South division rival Tampa Bay.

“He got after the quarterback and played the run well at a lot of different positions,” Jones said. “So I had a lot of respect for him as a player. So when he came up in free agency, it was a natural fit because he had been here before.”

Starting Leo defensive end Chris Clemons’ availability for the beginning of the season is a question mark while he rehabs from ACL reconstructive knee surgery. His backup, second-year pro Bruce Irvin, will miss the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

And Seattle’s third option, Cliff Avril, has not practiced this offseason because of a nagging foot injury, leaving Bennett as the team’s starting Leo defensive end if the season were to begin today.

Bennett’s also dealing with his own injury issues. He played all 16 games with a torn rotator cuff in 2012, and will do so again this season. The shoulder injury will eventually require surgery, but Bennett said the injury will not slow him down this season.

“It’s not an issue at all,” Bennett said. “I played through it (last year). It’s something that I have to deal with. But it’s not going to stop me from succeeding. It didn’t last year, and it won’t this year.”

CARPENTER HAS SURGERY

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during an interview with a Seattle-area radio station that offensive lineman James Carpenter had arthroscopic surgery over a month ago.

Although not specifically stated by Carroll, it’s presumed that Carpenter addressed an issue with his surgically repaired knee.

“Carp is on the road back,” Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle. “He had a minor, cleanup surgery done about five, six weeks ago that was extremely successful. I just talked with him this morning (Monday). He feels great. He’s making all of the normal progress he’s supposed to make. He’s going to be battling for us.”

A first-round selection for Seattle in the 2011 draft, Carpenter re-injured his surgically repaired knee during the opening series against Chicago last December, and was placed on the reserve/non-football list on Dec. 4, 2012.

Carpenter has not participated in any on-field practices during the team’s offseason. But when healthy, Carpenter is slated to start at left guard next to left tackle Russell Okung.

LYNCH A NO-SHOW AGAIN

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch once again was a no-show for his team’s organized team activities that were open to reporters on Monday.

Absent when the team began OTA workouts on May 20, Lynch reported to the voluntary sessions a week later.

Carroll did not talk with reporters after practice, so no reason was given for Lynch’s absence.

HERD GETS A CHANCE

Steilacoom High graduate Greg Herd worked through his third OTA practice on Monday, getting pointers from veteran Seattle receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate on running the right routes.

The 6-3, 200-pound Eastern Washington University product wore a No. 2 jersey. Herd signed with the Seahawks last week.

“The transition has been pretty easy,” Herd said. “They have a great locker room. Guys have been very accepting of me, and helping me along the way.”

EXTRA POINTS

Along with Lynch, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, cornerback Antoine Winfield and Clemons were not present for the morning workout. Rookie Michael Bowie worked with the first unit at right tackle with Giacomini out. … Offensive lineman John Moffitt returned to practice after missing last week’s OTA to deal with an ongoing legal issue. … Players who did not practice due to injury on Monday included defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (knee), Avril (foot), cornerback Tharold Simon (foot), Carpenter (knee), Stephen Williams (ankle), receiver Brett Swain (unknown), receiver Charly Martin (unknown), tight end Cooper Helfet (unknown) and safety Winston Guy (unknown). … Former reserve quarterback Josh Portis, released by the Seahawks last week, signed with Toronto of the Canadian Football League over the weekend. … Former Seahawks Chad Brown, Ricky Watters and Jeff Feagles and current Seattle wide receiver Martin are scheduled to participate in the seventh annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp. The event will be held June 17-20 at the NFL Films office in Mount Laurel, N.J.

eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com

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