New England Patriots

Michael Bennett speaks to reporters after practice for the New England Patriots at minicamp on June 4, 2019 in Foxborough, Mass. (Matt Dolloff/WBZ-FM)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Michael Bennett finally made his training camp debut for the Patriots on Saturday, taking the field just in time for the first padded session. But his absence from the first two public practices of camp for personal reasons certainly raised some eyebrows.

It turns out that Bennett had to take care of what he termed a “family issue” when he spoke to reporters after practice on Saturday. As part of his answer he expressed great appreciation for head coach Bill Belichick for letting him handle his personal business. Bennett also admitted he heard the retirement speculation that materialized while he was gone.

Here’s the full response when Bennett was asked why he missed the first three days of training camp:

“Oh, I had a personal reason. I didn’t retire, I heard everybody said that I retired. I was laughing at home – laughing – like no, I didn’t retire. No, I just had a family issue that I had to go take care of. I was lucky Coach [Bill] Belichick – it’s nice when you have a coach that sees you as a human, sees you as a human being, not just a number and you’re able to go talk to him, tell him what’s going on, and you’re able to go take care of it. That just makes you want to play harder for a coach. When he believes in you, and lets you take care of your family first.”

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 21: Defensive end Michael Bennett #77 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts as he warms up before playing the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field on October 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Belichick often runs his football team like the cold business that it is. He also comes off that way in his press conferences much of the time. But he wouldn’t have enjoyed the success and consistency he’s had as a coach if he couldn’t connect with his players as men.

Bennett obviously seems to be forging a nice connection with Belichick as he gets ready for the season. That’s huge for a player that Belichick needs to maximize in order to mitigate the loss of Trey Flowers on his defense.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.