FRISCO, Texas – Maybe it was the bye week, or maybe it's the ups and downs of a long season, but it feels like Michael Bennett has been here a lot longer than he has.
Bennett just finished his second game with the Cowboys on Sunday night, but he's already approaching his third week since being traded from New England. On Monday, he spoke with reporters about coming back to his home state of Texas.
"Everybody loves the Cowboys around the country. I grew up watching the Cowboys – Alvin Harper, Michael Irvin, Ken Norton, all those guys growing up," Bennett said. "It's an honor to be able to play for an organization that you grew up as a kid in Houston, being able to see this team."
Bennett has been mainly seen but not heard since arriving from the Patriots. In two games so far, he has five tackles and a sack, although Monday night marked the first time he spoke publicly.
He touched on a variety of topics, but two tend to stand out. Bennett was asked about the Cowboys' ceiling on defense with he and DeMarcus Lawrence playing together. The longtime NFL veteran spoke glowingly about Lawrence, comparing him to some of the best players he has ever lined up with – which, if you know Bennett's career arc, is saying quite a lot.
"Whether it's Ronde Barber, whether it's Cliff Avril, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Fletcher Cox. All these great players that I've played with, I would say that DeMarcus Lawrence is probably at the top of that list of guys I've played with in this league," Bennett said. "He's got great leadership, he's also a great captain and he goes out there and puts it on the line every single week and I think he leads by example. For me, it's great to be around a young guy like that, to be able to feel that energy and feel excited about playing football. It's an honor."
Hopefully, Bennett can help Lawrence get the Dallas defense back on track. The Cowboys racked up five sacks and three takeaways in the Week 9 win against the Giants, but they failed to do any of that Sunday night against Minnesota. They also struggled to cope with the Vikings' high powered run game.
"For us, it's just tackling, being fundamentally sound," Bennett said.
Bennett still has seven more opportunities to contribute to that – including games against two of his former teams. The soon-to-be 34-year-old was also asked about the big picture. The Cowboys reportedly cut one year off his contract, enabling him to enter free agency this coming March. Asked what that might means for his future, the newest Cowboy preferred to keep his focus on the next few weeks.
"It could be my last year. I've just been chilling, thinking about what's the best thing for my family, what's the best thing health-wise in the future," he said. "I just take it one game at a time, one year at a time. This opportunity is a great opportunity, but right now I'm just enjoying this game, playing football and just enjoying myself, trying to be a kid out there again."