Seattle’s revamped D-line ready for preseason

On a team that counts continuity among its greatest strengths,

the Seattle Seahawks are hoping that change can be a good thing for

the defensive line.

Veterans Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel were

brought in to add depth and their value could become even greater

while Bruce Irvin serves a four-game suspension and Chris Clemons

recovers from knee surgery that has his status for the season

opener in doubt.

The Seahawks will begin to see how the changes are shaking out

starting Thursday night when Seattle opens the preseason at San

Diego.

”We’ve been watching all these guys play for years,” veteran

defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. ”They bring a lot of

qualities we love.”

For all its strengths, the line was the one area of the defense

that appeared to be in need of some upgrade during the

offseason.

While there were no big names like the additions of Antoine

Winfield and Percy Harvin, the Seahawks did use a lot of resources

in addressing the defensive line. In addition to the veteran free

agents, Seattle used two draft picks on defensive linemen, getting

tackle Jordan Hill in the third round and former Alabama starter

Jesse Williams in the fifth round.

”The three-techniques are really important, and all of those

guys are going to play,” coach Pete Carroll said this week. ”It’s

going to take us all the way through preseason to figure that out,

I think. All of those guys will get play time.”

Avril, Clemons and Irvin can play the Leo position, which is a

hybrid end/linebacker, although Irvin has moved back and is playing

more of a traditional outside linebacker role during training camp.

On the other side of the line, defensive end Red Bryant is a

converted defensive tackle who has unique size (6-foot-4, 323

pounds) for an end rusher.

Inside, the Seahawks have plenty of options behind projected

starters Mebane and McDaniel. Along with Hill and Williams, Seattle

also has Clinton McDonald and Jaye Howard as options who can be

used inside. Thursday’s preseason game could provide some answers

as to who and how the Seahawks will use their deep group of

defensive linemen.

”We’ve all played in different defenses, but they were

similar,” Bennett said. ”We’ve got a lot of good players who can

do different things and fill different roles.”

The only thing that seems to be missing is a nickname. Bennett

joked that the defensive line wants to be called ”Legion of

Doom,” a play on Seattle’s defensive backfield and their nickname

of ”Legion of Boom.”

”We don’t need a nickname,” said Mebane. ”We just want to go

out and play our game.”

While Seattle’s secondary, led by All-Pros Richard Sherman and

Earl Thomas, gets most of the publicity, the Seahawks believe their

defensive line has already made a name for itself.

”I don’t think we’re under the radar at all,” Bennett said.

”We’ve got a lot of great people, guys who have led the league in

sacks and can do a lot of things … guys who have made a lot of

big plays.”

The Seahawks seem to have plenty of depth along their line, and

that should come in handy while Irvin and Clemons are out.

”We’ll miss them,” Mebane said. ”But we’ve got to do what

we’ve got to do. We’ve still got to make plays.”