RENTON, Wash. (AP) Kevin Williams signed with Seattle in part because he wouldn’t be asked to carry the load anymore.
Going into his 12th NFL season, Williams would be able to share and spread the snaps out in the hopes of staying fresh throughout the season.
So far, it’s worked great for the veteran defensive tackle.
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”It’s definitely easier to walk around during the week without taking such a beating on Sunday,” Williams said.
That plan is about to take a drastic change.
The loss of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to a torn hamstring leaves a gaping hole in Seattle’s defensive front. Mebane was Seattle’s run-stuffer; the nose tackle playing over the ball who regularly took up two blockers and cleared space for the rest of the Seahawks defense to run down ball carriers.
There’s no one reason why Seattle has had one of the best run defenses in the league the past two seasons. But Mebane was a big part of that success.
”He just seemed to be more consistent being a factor and making plays and penetrating. It’s not always the tackles that he makes, but it the plays that he forces because he’s got great penetration and the ball gets bounced around and other guys make tackles,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
”He had a great offseason, he reported in probably the best shape he’s ever been in for us and it showed and he was very, very consistent. Really unfortunate injury.”
Williams will get the first nod at filling in for Mebane, although playing nose tackle has been a rarity in his career. He did it briefly last season in Minnesota due to injuries, but has not lined up over center much in his career.
”If you sign up for (defensive) line you’re going to have to take on blocks every play,” Williams said. ”They’re just coming at a different angle now.”
Williams’ snap count is down significantly from his previous seasons with Minnesota. Williams has been in on 42.9 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps this season, according to Football Outsiders.
Tony McDaniel, who will also see increased play with Mebane out, has been in on 39 percent. The Seahawks will also be helped by the return of Jordan Hill, who played last week after missing three games with an ankle injury.
Williams played 718 defensive snaps last season for the Vikings. No one on Seattle’s defensive line last season – playoffs included – played more than 600 snaps.
”He’s handled everything we’ve done fine. He hasn’t needed any extra attention in practice, he has no ailments coming up from the past or any wear down factor,” Carroll said.
”For this late in the season he’s in as good a shape as he’s ever been in. He’s a really good, stout, tough football player. He will give us great play in there. It will be a little different style, makeup and size-wise, but he has great experience and he’ll adapt to this really well.”
Seattle’s defensive line depth has taken hits throughout the season. Mebane is the fifth defensive lineman to be placed on injured reserve. Seattle picked up Demarcus Dobbs last week off waivers to help with the depth and even fullback Will Tukuafu could be an option for a few snaps on the defensive line as he did previously in San Francisco.
”Kind of how we roll is everybody is versatile. If you watch us you know everybody plays a different spot. Nobody is in the same spot ever,” Williams said. ”But you got to get your study in at each position and when your number is called you’ve got to be ready.”
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