Pats' Bennett arrives after excused camp absence

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett arrived at training camp Sunday morning after missing three practices with an excused absence, and said he is appreciative of Bill Belichick's understanding.

"I just had a family issue that I had to go take care of. I was lucky; 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," Bennett said after taking part in his first practice. "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."

Bennett, who has a residence in Hawaii, noted that he arrived in New England early Sunday morning.

"I think everybody's always concerned about how their boss is going to take into consideration if something happens back home, but when you have a boss who respects you as a man, it's easy to go out there and play for him like that," said Bennett, who was acquired by the Patriots in a March trade. "I think for me, that's easy to look him in the eye and whatever he asks me to do, I'll do it simply because I know he respects me as a human being and I respect that."

The Patriots are counting on Bennett, 33, to help provide disruption on defense after Trey Flowers, who led the team with 7.5 sacks last season, signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency.

Bennett had nine sacks for the Philadelphia Eagles last season and has totaled 63 in his 10-year career, which has included stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-2012) and Seattle Seahawks (2013-2017). He is looking forward to a new beginning with the Patriots, a franchise he said he has long admired.

"I think the opportunity to build teams, that's what's the best part of the game. I love winning, but I also love to build a great relationship with new people and the opportunity to be put in new positions and try new things," he said.

"The opportunity to have that growth; I've been comfortable in Seattle over there. Now it's time for me to take another step in something I can improve in, whatever they ask me to do, things I'm not used to do doing, and I want to improve on that."