Sweat spewed from every pour of Brandon Mebane Monday morning and he described how his second season as the run-stuffing defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks would be different.
Listed at 6-1 and 314 pounds, Mebane, 2007 third round draft choice from California had contemplated puffing out to 324 to occupy more space. Then reconsidered ... wanting to stay at his playing weight of a year ago and redistributing the weight with strength and flexibility.
"I'm still working on it," Mebane said. "It's a continuous process for big interior linemen. I should be there by the time the regular season is here (Sept. 7). I kind of wanted to see how I would do with more weight for the run. But in the offseason when I went over films and talked to people, it isn't about weight. There's more technique to what I need to do.
"I'm gonna drop back down to 316 and work from there."
The coaching staff was pleasantly surprised at how quickly Mebane made an impact as a rookie, particularly in light of season ending knee injuries to both Marcus Tubbs and Chuck Darby. As a result Mebane ended up starting the final 10 regular season games and two playoff games with solid results.
He was a project for defensive line coach Dwaine "Pee Wee" Board and both men are aware of the progress, but the potential has merely been tapped. For all the talk about the loss of Tubbs and his battle to return this season, Mebane has just stuck to his own regimen and studied to become everything the Seahawks need.
And a lot of it had to do with learning technique.
"The thing that Mebane has done since he came in is improve every day from last year," Board said. "A lot of guys say that, but he has. Right now he has a better feel, and is working on little things that make him better. He has come a long way.
"Mebane probably didn't realize if he didn't use technique, he was going to get held on every play and not be able to do anything. When you get held every play, they respect you."
Dealing with Pro Bowl performers Mike Wahle and Walter Jones in practice on a daily basis in training camp is enough to push him up another level before the regular season starts. In many ways, trying to handle the squat Mebane is driving the 6-6, 304-pound Wahle crazy.
"Blocking Mebane is like trying to block a boulder," Wahle quipped.
That's the whole idea, of course. His strength, agility and astounding leverage are the keys to his success. He surprised the team with his pass-rushing ability and now Board is pushing him to improve that technique, if only because he'd love to be an every down lineman as opposed to first down and short yardage.
"He's improved his technique every practice and he has done a good job against those guys in practice using that technique," Board said. "Right now, he's moving well and explosive and has a chance to do a lot of good things. He has the ability, the quickness and explosiveness to be an every-down guy. It's about him improving his pass-rush enough to stay in the game. Pass-rushing in the NFL is very important and Mebane thinks so to. When you line up, you've got to win every time and that's what he's working at doing."
So as Mebane comes off the practice field yet another day, huffing and puffing and ready to blow the offensive line down, nobody has higher aspirations for him than he holds for himself. Whether he weighs 314, 316, 324 or someplace in between, all that really matters is performance and the accountability to his teammates.
"We set goals for the whole defense and I set goals for myself," Mebane said. "The most important thing is that I'm out there prepared and to be the best defensive tackle I can be to help make us the great defense we believe we can be. I'm the youngest starter, I've learned a lot and I have to take my responsibility seriously. It's up to me to get the job done."
Tim Ruskell on the sudden retirement of Chris Gray due to a spinal injury:
"We're just glad he didn't get back out on the field and make it worse. He was a great for this team on the field, in the locker room and in the community ... the consummate Seahawk."
This and that
The Seahawks defense was more dominant Monday morning more than any other pads practice so far - with Deon Grant, Kelly Jennings and Marcus Trufant coming up with interceptions – and . ... Single game tickets for the regular season sold out in 15 minutes Monday morning. ... With Chris Gray going on the injured list, the Seahawks signed defensive tackle Kevin Brown. ... Tight end Jeb Putzier (hip) and tackle Kyle Williams (knee) returned to practice Monday morning. ... Monday afternoon was a special teams practice. ... The Blue Angels were guests of the Seahawks at practice Monday morning, with the players, staff and everyone else interesting in meeting the flight squad that consistently wows crowds every year at Seafair.