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Saturday in Hawkville: Cassius Marsh has found his football Nirvana

Posted May 17, 2014

He has gone through life bearing the given first name of Muhammad Ali, but the knockout moment of being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Seahawks for Cassius Marsh came the first time he saw VMAC.

A recap of the second day of the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:

WORD OF THE DAY: NIRVANA

Not “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana, but football Nirvana.

That has been Cassius Marsh’s take on VMAC and pretty much all things Seahawks since the defensive end from UCLA was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft last Saturday. This weekend, he’s immersed himself in the team’s three-day minicamp.

Asked after Saturday’s practice along the shores of Lake Washington if he has had an NFL moment yet, Marsh offered, “I think it kind of hit me when I was rolling up on the facilities here. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I mean, the lake – practicing next to a lake, I mean that’s unbelievable. And the facility looks like its own little city. It’s just ridiculous.

“I love it here – everybody here. The staff – equipment staff, coaches; down to the guys in the café are just awesome. I love it here. I feel at home. I’m sad that I have to leave.”

UCLA is on the quarter system, so Marsh will return to Los Angeles to finish his classes. But he’ll be back in time for the full-squad minicamp June 17-19.

And from what he’s shown this week, the coaches are just as eager to have Marsh return.

The 6-foot-4, 254-pound Marsh is the Seahawks’ kind of lineman – versatile, competitive, a chameleon, if you will. Remember, Marsh was a 300-pounder who started his career for the Bruins as a three-technique tackle. As his body changed, so did his position. Marsh played five-technique end at 285 and then rush-end at 265, and that’s where he has been lining up in this camp.

YOU DON'T SAY

“If you can’t live up to the pressure, what’s the point of being here?”

Rookie defensive end Cassius Marsh, when asked if there was pressure living up to his first name (he’s named after Cassius Clay, who is better known as Muhammad Ali)

Saturday, Marsh recovered a fumbled snap, had enough pressure on tryout QB Zach Zulli that the play likely was a sack and then pressured Zulli into an incompletion.

The comparisons to Michael Bennett were made on draft day, and Marsh can see the similarities in style and versatility to the player who led the Seahawks with eight sacks last season and can slide from tackle to end and back during the same series.

“I love his game,” Marsh said. “It’s like an advanced version of mine, I like to think. He’s very powerful, extremely quick, great with his hands and just a relentless player. I love watching the entire defensive line play. There’s something to learn from all the guys. Bennett is more a player like me, or me like him, but there’s something to learn from everybody on the defensive line.”       

POSITION WATCH: WIDE RECEIVER

It was difficult not to watch the wide-outs, because there were only four on the field for Saturday’s practice – fourth-round draft choice Kevin Norwood; Arceto Clark, who spent last season on the practice squad; and Tim Smith and Morrell Presley, who are in this camp on a tryout basis.

STAT DU JOUR: WHO’LL BE THE SEAHAWKS NEXT ‘GRAND’ RECEIVER?

The last receiver to lead the Seahawks in receptions in back-to-back seasons was Darrell Jackson in 2003-04. And it won’t happen this season, because 2013 leading receiver Golden Tate signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency. But the Seahawks also have not had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2007, when Bobby Engram caught a franchise-record 94 passes for 1,147 yards.

While pondering who might be the next, here’s the look at the team’s receiving yards leaders since Engram:

Year Reciever Yards
2013 Golden Tate 898
2012 Sidney Rice 748
2011 Doug Baldwin 788
2010 Mike Williams 751
2009 T.J. Houshmandzadeh 911
2008 John Carlson 627

Norwood and Clark took advantage of the extra reps, with second-round draft choice Paul Richardson and tryout player Lance Ray sitting out Saturday’s session; and Chris Matthews not participating in this camp because “a hamstring that is bother him,” as coach Pete Carroll put it.

“It was busy,” Norwood said. “Everybody’s out here trying to get better, including me. It was a long one, but at the same time it was good for us because we got more work and we got a lot of reps.”

And for the second day, Norwood made the most of the opportunities that came his way. He got behind tryout cornerback Jon Davidson to catch a touchdown pass from Keith Price in the 7-on-7 drill, when he also had a catch along the sideline and another over the middle. In the team drills, Norwood made a nice snag of a pass from Zulli and then went down to get a low throw from the QB.

PLAYS OF THE DAY: KEITH PRICE TO ARCETO CLARK, TIMES TWO

Offense: On almost back-to-back plays, Price displayed recognition, accuracy and touch by going to Clark twice – once on each sideline. Price saw that the defense was in single coverage and then laid the passes over defenders to Clark.

Defense: After tryout running back Ryan Montague used a nice stutter step to get through the line and a burst to break into the open, 276-pound defensive tackle Michael Brooks chased him all the way to the end zone. And Brooks almost caught him. The effort was saluted by Brooks’ teammates, those on the sideline as well the field.

UP NEXT: A FINAL ROOKIE MINICAMP PRACTICE

The rookie minicamp concludes with a midday practice Sunday. The third, and final, week of Phase 2 in the offseason program begins Monday. But it will be interrupted as the Super Bowl champions will fly to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.