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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Michael Bennett schools new Seahawks O-linemen

Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was upset about the actions of the offensive line. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett was upset about the actions of the offensive line. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

Michael Bennett’s not angry, he insisted Monday, the day after a fight in practice drew headlines and got him sent to the sidelines for the second time this month.

Just the opposite, he said.

“I’ve decided to live a stress-free life,’’ said the 30-year-old Seahawks defensive lineman. “Peaceful. The more peaceful you are, the less stress you feel, the younger you are.’’

So why did he decide to rumble with offensive tackle Bradley Sowell in practice on Sunday and then push aside teammates such as Doug Baldwin as he circled the field in anger trying to get at Sowell again, eventually throwing his helmet and being told to sit out the rest of practice by coach Pete Carroll?

Just enforcing the code of NFL practice, Bennett said, saying he need to show Sowell that what he termed a “dirty play’’ was not acceptable at practice.

Bennett’s contretemps with Sowell came a snap after Sowell had knocked Josh Shirley to the ground in a one-on-one drill. Bennett then took the next snap against Sowell – appearing to ask to take it – and the two basically went straight to the ground.

“I think definitely there is a fine line in the NFL where it’s like where a guy beats a guy or he beats that guy,’’ Bennett said. “But when it goes beyond that play, dirty kind of plays at practice, that’s where it crosses a line. For me I don’t really treat the game like a game, I treat it like a job and for feeding my family and so I feel like if a guy is doing something to injure I feel like he is taking food out of my daughter’s mouth or my wife’s mouth. So I take that to heart and that drives me insane, especially if we are on the same team.

“It’s different if it’s another team. But if we are on the same team I feel like we should respect each other to where we aren’t trying to hurt each other.’’

While some have wondered if Bennett’s approach to camp may be different this year due in part to his often-stated unhappiness due to his contract, he said the fact he has been involved in a few more fights than usual is due solely to working with a bunch of new offensive linemen.

Sowell, for instance, is in his first year with the team after signing as a free agent (he had played previously with Arizona) while Bennett has also had training camp altercations with rookie guard Germain Ifedi and second-year guard Mark Glowinski.

“It’s a whole new offensive line where before it was guys you had battled with for a long time, three-four years,’’ he said. “. … there is just a code in the NFL when it comes to injuries and conditioning and stuff like that. … there’s a code to where we have to find that fine line where it becomes (more) about the person’s safety then it is about the game.’’

Bennett also said he wanted to stick up for Shirley, who played four years at UW and is in his second year in the NFL.

“I’m the leader of the defense, the defensive line so definitely I want to stick up for the younger guys,’’ he said. “But at the end I think it came down to just disrespect. And I’m from Texas. It’s a lot different from a lot of other places over here. So it’s just different.’’

Bennett and Sowell talked and walked off the field together following Sunday’s practice – Sowell had also been sidelined by coaches for the rest of practice. Sowell, in fact, said the two later ate lunch together.

“Just two people competing,’’ Sowell said. “Those are two personalities that when they go against each other it can be very vicious. We both like to win. It’s honestly an honor to go against someone like Michael Bennett. It’s going to make me so much better.

“It just got a little heated. But at the end of the day I love Mike. He’s one of my favorite players in the NFL. I’ve enjoyed watching him over the years. So we talked it out really quickly and we were sitting there having lunch together. So it’s nothing big.’’

Said Bennett of patching things up with Sowell: “I mean for me it’s like I respect him. I would never do anything like that to him. So I think after I approached him and let him know my mindset to how I play the game and I approach the game he understands why he shouldn’t do that kind of stuff because I’m taking the game to a whole ’nother level, just trying to be the best pro possible every day when I step on the field.’’

Asked the seeming contradiction in his professed stress-free life and fights in football practice, Bennett said “that’s part of the game. That’s different here. It’s a whole ‘nother arena. This is the gladiator arena. You can’t come out here and be too peaceful here or you get hurt.’’

Said Sowell: “It’s just like if you have a brother and you fight over a video game. It’s as simple as that. It gets heated but at the same time you are both Seahawks and if someone were to do that to him I would have his back any day.’’

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