Michael Bennett on facing Patriots: 'It's never personal in the NFL'

FRISCO, Texas -- Traded to the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 26 by the New England Patriots, Michael Bennett harbors no ill will toward the team he will face Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

"It's never personal in the NFL," Bennett said Wednesday. "It's always business."

In fact, he called Patriots coach Bill Belichick a "savant."

"I learned a lot of football in New England," Bennett said. "I think at the same time as a player you go into the situation and you think you know football, then you meet somebody who's above you [like Belichick] and knows everything about the game. For me, I learned a lot about football in that situation, learning how to execute at a high level, learning what it takes to develop players. I learned what it feels like to break down a game plan from a different perspective, and I think it was good for me as a player. If I ever want to be a coach, it would be a good situation to take into that."

With Bennett on the 53-man roster Sunday for the fourth game since the trade, the Cowboys will have to give up a sixth-round pick in 2021 as part of the conditions of the deal.

The Patriots acquired Bennett in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, but his playing time decreased as the season progressed in part because of the way Belichick employed defensive linemen. Bennett was suspended for a week after an argument with defensive line coach Bret Bielema, which sources said occurred in front of other players.

Playing in 133 of 374 snaps in six games, Bennett had five tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pass deflection. In three games with the Cowboys, he has seven tackles, three sacks and 12 pressures.

"I think he's probably given the Cowboys what they wanted from him, some inside pass-rush production on third down in passing situations," Belichick said. "He's done that throughout his career."

Bennett's appreciation for Belichick remained strong even as his playing time dipped.

"At the end of the day, I just think Bill is a great motivator. I think he understands football from the beginning," Bennett said. "He's a historian when it comes to football, plays. He can remember anything when it comes to it. He's just a savant. I think he just knows how to put people in great positions to make plays, and I think you always go over every single thing about the game, the things that teams do, the chances that they might take, and I think probability plays a lot into the execution of the team."

He said he does not believe he has any added insight that can help the Cowboys this week, nor does he want to prove the Patriots wrong for trading him.

"I think it's just important to [play] great disciplined football against a great team like this," Bennett said. "It's not a lot of teams that can beat you with the way they execute every single play, and I think the Patriots are one of those teams where they execute every single play, every single possession, every single goal, everything. They're just a really good team, really great organization when it comes down to preparing for teams. Just playing great disciplined football is the best way to compete in the NFL."

As for Tom Brady, Bennett said, "There's lot of people on teams where the guys are like the best player and they don't spend a lot of time with each individual, but I think Brady is a very approachable player. I think he does a great job of bringing guys together and also just hanging with everybody. I think that makes the team feel really good, when you grow up and you look at a guy and he has everything in the league and at the same time he's down-to-earth. I think that's what makes Brady one of the best leaders in the NFL."

Does he have more desire to sack Brady on Sunday? "No," he said. "Same motivation."