Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril met with reporters Wednesday leading up to the team's Week 2 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. Here are four quick takeaways from his press conference:
1. How Do You Handle Up-Tempo Offenses As A Defender?
Before the end of the first half of Sunday's 17-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks made a switch offensively, going with their no-huddle, up-tempo two-minute offense. The change resulted in the Seahawks moving 74 yards in eight plays and putting up a field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead before halftime.
Avril was asked on Tuesday why he believes teams utilize that strategy to compete against him as a defender.
"Usually I think it's more so to not allow substitution," Avril said. "To not allow d-linemen to go in and out and get fresh guys in, to hopefully catch the defense slipping a little bit. I think that's why they try to do it, but I'm not on offense so I'm not sure."
Avril said whether or not he gets tired during those types of drives depends on how quick the tempo is.
"A lot of times they do quick tempo but it's not really that much of a difference, it's just, again, not allowing to sub out," Avril explained. "It's not allowing fresh d-linemen in there. But the tempo as far as for the play count and all that kind of stuff, a lot of times it doesn't change honestly."
2. He's Impressed With Sheldon Richardson's Athleticism.
Avril admitted he hasn't had much time to get to know new defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson that much — which isn't shocking considering he's only been with the team for two weeks — but his athleticism as an athlete has caught his eye already. Richardson was a highly touted running back earlier in his football career before attending Missouri and with the N.Y. Jets he flipped along their defensive line before while also taking snaps at outside linebacker.
"He's a heck of a ballplayer, he's super, super athletic," Avril said. "I mean, you kind of have an idea how athletic he might be, but to see it in-person … I mean this guy is 300 pounds and he plays outside linebacker, he can play 3-technique, he can play defensive end. I think he was a running back at one time. He's extremely athletic and he knows football, which is pretty cool."
3. On Having Earl Thomas Back: "It's Fun To Be Back Out There With Him."
Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made his return to the regular season against the Packers and led the team with 11 combined tackles. Beyond the stats, Thomas made a number of impact plays, including a terrific open-field tackle in space against wide receiver Jordy Nelson and a breakup of a pass intended downfield for Davante Adams. The energy Thomas brought back for the Seahawks defense on the field was something that easily stood out to Avril.
"He shows you how great of a player he is … they say 'next man up' a lot of times, but obviously somebody like that is pretty hard to replace," Avril said. "But to have him back out there and making plays and the energy he brings, it's amazing. It's fun, it's fun to be out there with him."
4. Nazair Jones Is "In-Tune" With The Defense.
Rookie defensive lineman Nazair Jones has made his presence felt in a short amount of time in the Pacific Northwest. Following a strong preseason, the Seahawks' third-round pick intercepted Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the first snap of his career Sunday. Thus far, Jones has made a strong impression on teammates in the locker room along with the coaching staff and has continued to build a name for himself on the roster.
"I'm seeing him grow every day," Avril said. "The coaches are on him, we're on him as veterans because we know what we need out of him. He's taken strides forward, he's making some plays as you can see, he's learning the game, he's learning the playbook, he's in-tune with what's going on. That's the first start for a young player and he's taking some strides."