Brandon Mebane remains the rock in Seahawks’ defense

Posted Jul 15, 2014

As the longest-tenured Seahawk, Brandon Mebane is leading by example. The eighth-year nose tackle already is preparing for the start of training camp next week by working out at VMAC.

Training camp doesn’t open until next week. But Tuesday, it was difficult to tell by Brandon Mebane’s sweat-soaked shirt.

The Pro Bowl-caliber nose tackle – and longest-tenured Seahawk – had just gone through a rigorous session with an eye on the defending Super Bowl champions reporting for physicals and a meeting next Thursday and the first practice of training camp on Friday.

Offseason? It’s in the rearview mirror, along with the 43-8 dismantling of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks’ mantra for 2014 has become “What’s Next?” And that question mark might as well be an exclamation point.

“I took a week after the (Super Bowl) ring ceremony (on June 19) and went on vacation,” Mebane said while sitting in his cubicle at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “Then I came back here and have been here ever since working out and getting ready.”

And Mebane was just one of a dozen players who were working out Tuesday – a group that also included Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle Russell Okung; versatile and productive linebacker K.J. Wright; running back Robert Turbin; and rookie tackle Justin Britt, who will compete with Michael Bowie for the starting job on the right side the opened when Breno Giacomini signed with the New York Jets in free agency. Some of the players were continuing their rehabs from surgeries, while others were getting a jump on what next week will bring.

The Seahawks are not the same team that went 13-3 during the 2013 regular season and then dispatched the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers in the postseason before winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl title. In addition to Giacomini, leading receiver Golden Tate (Detroit Lions), cornerbacks Brandon Browner (New England Patriots) and Walter Thurmond (New York Giants) and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) also left in free agency, while defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons were released and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

To help restock the rotation that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn prefers on the line, six-time Pro Bowl tackle Kevin Williams was signed in June. And Mebane has embraced the addition of Williams the same way he uses his arms to wrap up ball carriers and power past would-be blockers.

“I’ve been watching Kevin since I got in the league,” Mebane, a third-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, said of Williams – who played the past 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. “I’m going to be around him every day asking questions – a lot of questions about different things, just to try and get an edge on the field.”

There is no questioning what Mebane means to the Seahawks’ defense. He is the rock in a unit that also includes Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, who led the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense in sacks last season after being added in free agency. In the past three seasons, only the New York Giants’ Linval Joseph (167) has more tackles among NFC tackles than Mebane (157). Mebane has been a Pro Bowl alternate twice during that span.

That’s why winning a Super Bowl in his seventh season with the Seahawks – and having the opportunity to win another this season – carries so much weight with the 311-pound Mebane.

“It means a lot,” Mebane said of being a Super Bowl champion and having a ring to prove it. “I thank God that I’m able to be in position to even play football, and to be part of a great team that just won a Super Bowl.

“Hopefully we can keep it going. Like I said, it means a lot to me. And I don’t take it for granted. I appreciate it every day that I’m here and I’m healthy.”