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Focus on: Brandon Mebane
Seeing Brandon Mebane almost melting into one of the oversized recliners in the Seahawks’ locker room before practice, it’s hard to imagine that he’s the same nose tackle who unleashes so much power and disruptiveness during games.
But the easygoing-off-the-field, hard-to-block-on-the-field Mebane is a big reason – literally – why the Seahawks are 6-1 as they prepare for Monday night’s game against the Rams in St. Louis. The defense ranks No. 2 in the league in average yards allowed and No. 6 in average rushing yards allowed. A lot of those stops start with the 6-foot-1, 311-pound Mebane.
Through the first seven games of his seventh NFL season, Mebane’s statistics would tell you he’s had a modest impact: 18 tackles, one quarterback hit, a fumble recovery. Look again, and look deeper.
“It’s such a steady factor that maybe we don’t point it out, but he’s played great football,” Carroll said. “The inside of our defense is really solid against the run in the things we’re asking them to do, and he’s the pillar of all that. So he’s doing great.”
One of the best things about Mebane is that consistency Carroll stressed. In the past 2½ seasons, no interior lineman in the NFC have more tackles than Mebane, and his 130 combined stops are tied for third in the league since the start of the 2011 season behind the Cleveland Browns’ Ahtyba Rubin (150) and the Cincinnati Bengals’ Domata Peko (138).
Mebane also has 13 sacks since being a third-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. None this season, so far, but Mebane has done the dirty work that has allowed others to get to the quarterback.
So, what’s it like to try to block someone with Mebane’s combination of size, power and explosive quickness? Who would know better than Max Unger, the Seahawks’ All-Pro center?
“Brandon is a heckuva player,” Unger said through one of those glad-he’s-on-my-team smiles. “I have to go against him a bunch in practice. A little less during the season, but during training camp it’s pretty serious.
“He’s a smart guy; a physical nose guard who knows where the ball is going. I can’t block him in practice. So …”
Unger laughed rather than completing a thought that needed no completion.