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Scruggs plays, then wins waiting game
The first quarter of Saturday night’s preseason opener couldn’t get over fast enough for Greg Scruggs.
That’s because the rookie defensive lineman from Louisville was on the sideline at CenturyLink Field waiting his turn to play against the Tennessee Titans.
“It is very tough, but I’m also a very patient person,” Scruggs said in the locker room after the Seahawks’ 27-17 victory. “I like when the older guys are in so I can learn by what they’re doing.
“But you get anxiety. You get anxious to play. So when you finally get in there you just have to cut it loose.”
Once Scruggs got his turn, however, he did just that in helping turn things around – especially at the start of the fourth quarter after the Titans had pulled into a 17-all tie. The 6-foot-3, 284-pound Scruggs played end and tackle, and the last of the Seahawks’ 10 selections in April’s NFL Draft made plays from both spots.
“They had me all over the place. As they say, ‘The more you can play, the longer you can stay,’ ” said a smiling Scruggs, who also got plenty of work on special teams.
On the first snap of the final quarter, with the Titans facing a second-and-10 from their own 13-yard line, Scruggs and defensive end Pierre Allen got to QB Rusty Smith for a 5-yard sack. On a third-and-19 play, which followed a false start by Titans tackle Byron Stingily, Scruggs and rookie tackle Jaye Howard dropped running back Jamie Harper for a 3-yard loss.
With the Titans pinned at their own 1, Will Batson had to punt with his heels just inside the back edge of the end zone and got off a 29-yarder that wobbled out of bounds at the 30. It set up a 40-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka that put the Seahawks back on top – for good – with 11 minutes remaining.
“I was just trying to go out there and do what I was supposed to do – trying to make plays, make my family proud, make my teammates proud, make my coaches proud,” Scruggs said.
He wasn’t, however, done just yet.
The Titans got the ball back and drove to the Seahawks’ 14-yard line. But on a first-down play, Scruggs tackled third-quarter hero Darius Reynaud for a 4-yard loss (Reynaud had scored on a 21-yard run and 85-yard punt return to pull the Titans even). Batson then was wide left on a 36-yard field goal attempt.
“This can definitely work as a springboard,” Scruggs said. “Now that I’ve had a taste of it, I’ll for sure have a new outlook on practice and on everything else. I know what to expect now.”
As good as his opening act was, Scruggs knows more is needing if he is to earn a spot on the 53-man roster because the Seahawks are loaded on the D-line – starting with starters Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch and Chris Clemons; but also including first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin, free-agent acquisition Jason Jones and incumbent backup Clinton McDonald. That’s seven players in a unit where the club will carry nine or 10, so Scruggs is competing for more than just playing time with fellow rookies Howard and Cordarro Law, as well as Pep Levingston, Dexter Davis and Allen.
“Those guys are unbelievable,” said Scruggs, who then added with a laugh, “We’ve got a really good defense line, in case you didn’t know. So for me it’s a blessing to be able to come in behind those guys.”
Not to mention make impactful plays.
“It was fun,” he said. “I was just trying to go out and do what I was coached to do and just enjoy my time in my first game. Hopefully I can be here a lot longer to make a lot more plays.”