FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Over the last several weeks, it’s become apparent that Michael Bennett has been unhappy with his role within the Patriots defense. Apparently, that came to a breaking point last Friday.

According to the NFL Network, the Patriots have suspended Bennett for one week for conduct detrimental to the team. According to the Athletic, the veteran defensive end let the Patriots coaching staff know he was unhappy with his role.

The blowup came 24 hours after Bennett played just 11 snaps against the New York Giants. After the news broke on Tuesday, the 33-year-old apologized via ESPN.

“On Friday, I had a philosophical disagreement with my position coach that has led to my suspension,” Bennett said to ESPN. “I apologize to my teammates for any distraction this may have caused.”

Bennett wasn’t at practice on Tuesday. It was an unusual absence since he hasn’t been on the injury report, but now we know why.

The 11-year veteran has long been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL with 17.5 sacks over the past two years. This year, he has 2.5 sacks in six games with just one start. He’s just playing 35.7 percent of the Patriots defensive snaps and less than defensive linemen Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler. On Thursday, against New York, Bennett’s 11 snaps were also less than defensive ends Deatrich Wise and Chase Winovich as well as edge rusher Shilique Calhoun.

With the Patriots playing more 3-4 defense, they’re using their linebackers a lot more this season. That has led Bennett to also playing less than Ja’Whaun Bentley, John Simon, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.

Asked about Bennett prior to the Giants game, Coach Bill Belichick said he’s worked hard, but admitted Bennett is being asked to do things differently with the Patriots than he has in the past.

“Michael’s a smart player, he’s got a lot of experience,” Belichick said. “He’s been in different systems, so he’s trying to adapt into our system, but we’ve also talked to him about some of the things that he’s done and he obviously has a lot of experience and a lot of input. Not just as an individual player, but also schematically. So, he’s been good. He’s really tried hard and worked hard to embrace what we’ve asked him to do, which again, is quite different than what he’s done in Seattle and Philly, even in Tampa. So, yeah, he’s been fun.”

Last week, Tom Brady even said he enjoyed having Bennett as a teammate after playing with his brother, Martellus Bennett.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with Michael,” Brady said. “It’s a little different because he’s on the defensive side of the ball … Love the football player that he is, the level of talent he brings. He’s been on some great defenses. He’s a big, powerful guy. I’ve played against him. I mean, he knocked the crap out of me in the 2014 Super Bowl, so I know what kind of player he is, and I’m glad he’s on our team.”

Bennett’s playing time has gone down as the season’s gone on. In Week 1, he played 55.2 percent of the Patriots defense snaps. That is his season high. His snap percentages have dropped every single game _ 40.3 percent, 30 percent, 30.4 percent, 25 percent and 22 percent. Bennett has played 25 combined snaps over the last two games. That’s less than his playing time in Week 1 alone (37 snaps).

Since 2012, Bennett has played 30 snaps or less just nine times. Five of those games have been this season with the Patriots. In that span, Bennett only has three games where he’s played less than 20 defensive snaps and they’re all with the Pats. His 11 snaps last week are the lowest we can find dating back to the 2012 season.

When asked about his declining play time after the Patriots win over the Giants, Bennett told the Boston Sports Journal he didn’t have any answers.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” Bennett said. “You have to ask Bill. I wish I knew. If I had a better answer, I would tell you. You’ve got to ask them, man. I’m just trying to do what they ask me to do.”

After trading for Bennett this offseason, the Patriots restructured his two-year contract, giving him $16.75 million with a $4 million signing bonus.

ADDITIONS: The Patriots lost two fullbacks in four weeks, and tight end Matt LaCosse is dealing with a knee injury that could sideline him for weeks.

After an injury-filled win over the New York Giants, the Patriots restocked their tight end depth chart by bringing back Ben Watson and signing signing Eric Tomlinson.

Watson was at practice Tuesday with Tomlinson, 27, who spent the bulk of his four-year career with the Jets.  He has 16 career receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown.

To make room for Tomlinson, the Patriots are expected release third-string quarterback Cody Kessler.

n It appears that Devin Ross and Tyler Gauthier have been added to the practice squad as both players now have lockers.

Ross, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound, 24-year-old receiver from Colorado, was at practice Tuesday wearing No. 17. Ross has been in and out of training camp and practice squads with the Eagles and Titans over the past two seasons. He caught 43 passes for 508 yards as a senior for the Buffaloes.

With Younghoe Koo, Dan Skipper and Jason Vander Laan all gone, the Patriots still have one practice squad spot left.

FIRST-ROUND rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry participated in his first practice of the season after starting the year on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. His return indicates he received one of the team’s two designations to return from IR. He will be eligible to play in Week 9.

RECEIVER PHILLIP Dorsett returned to practice and expected to be on the field for Monday’s game at the Jets.

FORMER PATS tight end Rob Gronkowski finally closed the book on a possible return

Pressed by a caller during his radio appearance, Gronkowski delivered a definitive “no” when asked if he would play again for the Patriots.

“I’ll give an answer. Obviously when I retired, I retired for a reason. ‘Cause I needed to step away. So it would be a no. It would be a no. It would be a no. There it is,” Gronkowski said. “But I never say no because I’ve said no and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kidding.’ In my mind, that’s how it is. It’s a no.”

Comments are not available on this story.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.