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Jordan Hill, Benson Mayowa and John Lotulelei open in style
In a preseason opener coach Pete Carroll dedicated to the Seahawks’ rookies who were making their NFL debuts, Jordan Hill, Benson Mayowa and John Lotulelei turned in dedicated efforts.
Their tenacity, relentless and playmaking ability was apparent at Qualcomm Stadium last Thursday night, and it was even more obvious as first-year defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was reviewing the video of the Seahawks’ 31-10 victory.
Mayowa, a rookie free agent and 252-pound end, had one sack, shared another and came tantalizingly close to getting a third as he continues his push for a spot on the 53-man roster after being signed following a tryout at the team’s rookie minicamp in May.
Lotulelei, another rookie free agent and 233-pound linebacker, is always easy to spot because of the hair that flows from under his helmet and obscures his No. 46. But he was credited with three solo tackles, including one for a loss, and added another on special teams.
Hill, a 303-pound defensive lineman who was selected in the third round of April’s NFL Draft, was credited with only one tackle. But that obviously did not measure just how disruptive he was.
“Jordan Hill and Benson Mayowa were two guys that really jumped out on film in terms of making some plays,” Quinn said after Monday’s training camp practice. “That said, ‘OK, they’re really challenging for some more play time.’ ”
Improving the pass rush was an offseason priority for coach Pete Carroll, for the second consecutive year, and Hill and Mayowa are showing they can help – Hill as the three-technique tackle in the nickel line and Mayowa at the Leo spot where Chris Clemons has generated 33.5 sacks the past three seasons.
“There were a couple of chances where we thought that he could get to the quarterback in the middle but he didn’t,” Quinn said of Hill. “We did like the rush that we saw from him, so hopefully he can provide some stuff for us.”
As for Mayowa, Quinn offered, “We just saw some traits there as a rusher, so you saw some plays where he had really good quickness and where he could chase. … He’s off to a good start, and he’s another one who has a lot of good stuff to build on. He’s done it in training camp; he played well in the first game, so I think there is definite progress. For him, he likes to compete and he likes to battle. I’m encouraged on what I’ve seen.”
Then there’s Lotulelei and his flowing locks, which flow even more when he’s racing to get to the ball carrier – which is on just about every play, and often ahead of the developing play. Despite not being drafted, Lotulelei was a player the Seahawks targeted when they started signing free agents after the draft because “he had the skills that we look for in a linebacker,” as Quinn put it.
Skills that were evident as he was stopping 202-pound running back Fozzy Whittaker for no gain; forcing the play that resulted in tackle Jaye Howard stopping Whittaker for no gain; and teaming with linebacker Heath Farwell to drop Whittaker for a 3-yard loss – one play before Mayowa collected a third-down sack.
“The first thing that jumped off about him was his instincts,” Quinn said. “He made a ton of tackles. As a linebacker he really has a nose for the ball. We saw his lateral quickness. He was a good blitzer. He was physical. We thought there were some things that we could develop there.”
The next under-the-lights opportunity to continue that development for Lotulelei, Hill and Mayowa comes Saturday night at CenturyLink Field in the Seahawks’ preseason home opener against the Denver Broncos.