Michael Bennett, Bradley Sowell involved in latest — and most heated — fight at Seahawks practice
RENTON – In what was the most heated and prolonged altercation yet this summer, Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett went after left tackle Bradley Sowell during Sunday’s practice, swinging at him on two separate occasions.
It happened during the one-on-one pass-rush drill, which has been the setting for most of the fights between Seattle’s offensive and defensive linemen since the start of training camp. Sowell appeared to pull Bennett down with him as he was losing his balance. Bennett immediately took a swing at Sowell while the two were still on the ground. Teammates rushed in to separate them.
Bennett continued to shout at Sowell while being held back. When it appeared that he had calmed down, he began walking by himself across the field, then broke into a sprint toward Sowell. The two squared off again before being separated. Bennett angrily pushed away wide receiver Doug Baldwin as he was trying to escort him away from Sowell.
Bennett then took a seat on a water jug, where coaches, other defensive linemen and even quarterback Russell Wilson talked with him. Carroll briefly joined in.
Neither Bennett nor Sowell took part in any team drills after that. They walked off the field together after practice while appearing to speak amicably. Coach Pete Carroll noted that interaction when asked how detrimental Bennett’s practice altercations are becoming.
“This is a passionate guy and we got kind of riled up today. It was awesome those two guys walked off the field together,” Carroll said. “That’s what’s most important, how we respond and get back. He’s just kind of fighting for his own a little bit, and one of the other guys, young guys, got knocked around a little bit and he was standing up for him. He’s got a lot of pride and he’s an incredible competitor, but he’s got to make sure that he stays poised so he doesn’t get himself in trouble. We had a good illustration of that today.”
The young defensive lineman Carroll referred to was Josh Shirley. He ended up on the ground when facing Sowell in the snap that preceded the fight, something Bennett apparently took exception to.
This was the latest of several fights between Bennett and one of Seattle’s offensive linemen since the start of training camp. Asked if Bennett’s unhappiness with his contract situation has played a role, Carroll said only, “I don’t know. I don’t know that.” He acknowledged that Bennett could be frustrated with the way he’s been limited of late – he hasn’t played in either of Seattle’s first two preseason games – saying, “Maybe that’s part of it.”
Carroll was asked if an increased level of intensity along Seattle’s offensive line this year has contributed to Bennett’s temper repeatedly flaring in practice.
“I think everything about everything is more intense than it has been,” Carroll said. “It just seems like the focus has been there to push to get prepared for the season. I can’t say that we don’t like it. We just have to manage it well and perform well.”
Offensive-line coach Tom Cable had a similar response when asked about the fight between Bennett and Sowell and whether or not he’s OK with it.
“There’s parts of it that are good but ultimately you don’t want either one of them fighting or doing that,” Cable said. “They’ve got to learn how to manage that because that stuff’s going to happen in a game, and if you do it in a game, you get thrown out and they’re going to take your money. So a good lesson for both he and Mike. Both guys are wrong and they’ve got to learn to do right, and they’ll do that.”
Carroll said that Bennett and Sowell walking together afterward, having apparently made amends, was indicative of how players involved in fights have been able to leave the bad blood on the field.
“I can’t give you a better illustration. You just saw it,” he said. “We’re very connected and there’s a respect that’s here about competing and battling and that you’re working to take it as far as you can and still respect the people across from you. Sometimes that line gets crossed a little bit. It’s a very competitive world we’re in and a very competitive game we play, and these guys care with all their heart, so we have to learn how to deal with that and manage that real well.”