Week after week, the play of rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen has been one of the best stories of this Seahawks season.
A fifth-round pick who was a converted receiver, Woolen didn't just win a starting job coming out of training camp, he has thrived in that role early in his career. In each of the past four games, the former UTSA Roadrunner has recorded an interception, making him the first rookie since 2010 to accomplish that feat. And in Sunday's win over the Cardinals, Woolen not only intercepted Kyler Murray to keep that streak alive, he also had five tackles and recovered a fumble for the second straight week, diving on a loose ball after fellow rookie corner Coby Bryant forced a fumble.
And for his play in Seattle's Week 6 victory, Woolen was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Woolen is the third Seahawk to earn Player of the Week honors, joining outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (Week 1) and quarterback Geno Smith (Week 4). Woolen is the first Seahawks rookie to be named Player of the Week since Michael Dickson in 2018, and the Seahawks' first rookie Defensive Player of the Week since Michael Boulware in 2004.
The 6-foot-4 Woolen, who ran a blazing-fast 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, arrived in Seattle with the nickname "Riq the Freak" for his rare combination of size and athleticism, and he has since been dubbed "Avatar" by defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt. Other teammates have their own unique way of describing Woolen's outstanding start to the season.
"It's like watching a rottweiler pup run around the house and he's just bumping into (stuff) because he doesn't know how big he is, it's like that," safety Ryan Neal said after Woolen recorded his third interception in Seattle’s Week 5 game in New Orleans. "Watching him just do what he does, he just doesn't even understand. It's like, you are so damn special, and you don't even know it. And I love his attitude, he's just so cool, calm and collected, not getting a big head. He's always looking for that ball, and teams are going to learn, if you try that man… he got it three times."
A week later Woolen made it four times in a performance that helped the Seahawks improve to 3-3, and while it's still very early in his career, there is no doubting that Woolen is off to a very impressive start, one that now includes Player of the Week honors.
"I don't remember feeling like this about a young corner out there that goes week after week after week, coming from where he came from and all that, and to be this far along and having this much fun and success and all that," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It's really fun to watch."