As Seattle continues to ready for its Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at CenturyLink Field, Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, free safety Earl Thomas, and defensive end Cliff Avril met with the media on Thursday at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
Here are five takeaways from the trio's talks with the press:
Why The Seahawks Added Dewey McDonald and Garrison Smith
As the Seahawks cut down their roster from 75 to 53 players this past weekend, the team welcomed two new faces to the active roster who spent the summer training elsewhere around the NFL. Dewey McDonald, a defensive back and special teams contributor who the Seahawks will try out at weakside linebacker, was acquired in a trade with the Oakland Raiders, and defensive lineman Garrison Smith was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers. After Thursday's practice, Richard was asked about what went into the decision to bring the pair to the Pacific Northwest.
On McDonald, a safety for the Raiders who "could be a combination hybrid player" in Seattle, Richard said: "I think the one thing that stood out about Dewey on tape is that he's an explosive hitter, he's a seek and destroy hitter, and those are absolutely the types of guys that we like. Our secondary guys are going to come down, fill the gaps, and really hit people. ... He's got good size and the fact that he has strength. He has the ability to play in the box, he comes from a system that is very similar to ours and we got eight men in the box, we like our safeties to be able to play in the box. He's done that, and really safety and some of our linebackers position correlate."
On Smith, who had 15 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks for the Niners during preseason play, Richard added: "We were able to see him in the preseason where he filled up the stats sheet, I mean that was pretty cool what he was able to do during the preseason, but we wanted to have him put the pads on and see him versus our guys. We'll get up there, we'll take a look, but it has been his ability to get off the football, his ability to use his hands and locate the ball."
He Thinks Bobby Wagner & K.J. Wright Are In Store For Big Years
Asked to name one teammate who he thinks is going to have a big year in 2016, Thomas pointed to Seattle's linebacking corps, naming middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who earned his first Pro Bowl honor last year, and weakside linebacker K.J. Wright, who's widely considered one of the NFL's most underrated players.
"I've seen growth in them the way they carry themselves," Thomas said. "Also how they communicate back and forth with each other. Like I said before it all goes back to how we see things. How we're evolving and communicating. I don't care what you put out there. It can be any look. We've seen the look we just have to communicate the look."
He Was Jumping Up and Down in His Man Cave This Past Sunday
Thomas, an Orange, Texas native who proudly attended the University of Texas, was cheering on his Longhorns from his "man cave" during the school's thrilling double-overtime win over No. 10-ranked Notre Dame this past weekend that came as Tyrone Swoopes lunged for a 6-yard touchdown run. The 50-47 victory pushed Thomas' alma mater from unranked territory to No. 11 in the nation's AP Top 25 poll.
"I was just jumping up and down in my man cave," Thomas recalled. "It was cool, especially the way we won it. We're back."
His Advice For Seattle's Rookie Class
Seattle has 15 rookies on its 53-man roster, seven of which entered the League as undrafted free agents. The group saw plenty of snaps during the Seahawks' first four preseason games, but starting with Sunday's matchup against the Dolphins the games begin to matter in the win-loss column. Avril, who's entering his ninth NFL season, offered up some sound advice for the first-year players.
"Don't make the game bigger than what it is," Avril said. "The football field is still 100 yards. Go out there and just go back to the basics of what you've been doing. Play your technique and have fun. It's football, you've basically been doing it all your life. Just go out there and have fun, don't make it bigger than it is. It's just another game, it just happens to be in the NFL. Hopefully they go out there and make the plays they're supposed to make. Don't try to do too much. Just make the plays you're supposed to make.
"Again, embrace it and have fun with the situation."
Bradley Sowell Is "The Bully Of The O-Line"
Free-agent offensive line addition Bradley Sowell, who spent the previous three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, mixed it up with veteran defensive linemen like Michael Bennett at training camp this summer, dust-ups that left both players with a mutual respect for one another. Sowell is slated to be the team's starter at left tackle this season, and Avril said he's happy to have him protecting quarterback Russell Wilson's blindside.
"He's the bully of the O-line," Avril said. "He's an awesome dude and a heck of a ball player. He doesn't back down to anybody and he brings that grittiness, that toughness, to the O-line. I think they definitely need him. He's a heck of a ballplayer and I'm glad he's definitely protecting Russ' blindside."
Avril said he expects Sowell to "go to war" for the Seahawks this season.
"He's just scrappy, he's not going to back down to anybody and I think that's cool," said Avril. "He shows you that he's not afraid to compete and that's what we need on this team. Guys that will go out and compete at a high level all the time. That's what he brings."
The Seattle Seahawks have faced the Miami Dolphins 15 times dating back to 1977, going 4-8 in the regular season and 1-2 in the postseason. They'll look to add another win this Sunday, October 4 at 10 a.m. PT at Hard Rock Stadium.