Like a lot of rookies, Ugo Amadi has had to make his mark on special teams while biding his time behind more experienced starters on defense.
And while Amadi, like any competitor, would have preferred to have a bigger role throughout the season, he also knows that special teams can be a good launching off point for an NFL career, because young Seahawks players are often reminded of how players who came before them made their mark on special teams.
"Special teams always relays over to how you play on defense," Amadi said. "You see all the guys like Kam Chancellor—started off on special teams and then they moved him on to defense, and he even excelled more on defense. All that stuff relays over… That's what they talk about here. I see (Chancellor) a lot too. I'm supposed to buy his shoes, but I'm going to do that before Christmas. That's how I started noticing about him on kickoffs. He's filling the holes. He's putting people to sleep. That's how I first started hearing about Kam."
Amadi has indeed embraced his special teams role, becoming one of Seattle's top special teams players, particularly as a gunner on punt coverage, but he now appears to be in line to also take on a bigger role on defense. Earlier this week, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hinted that Amadi could take over the nickel corner role, and that became a lot more likely on Wednesday when the Seahawks released Jamar Taylor, who has held that role since re-signing with the Seahawks in Week 2.
Carroll stopped short of declaring Amadi the starting nickel corner going forward, but there's definitely a good chance the rookie sees his playing time increase significantly going forward.
"Yeah, he's going to play there," Carroll said. "We have a couple different choices to play. He's been ready to do it. We're working some guys, always, that can also contribute based on the matchups and things. It's not for sure how we're doing that yet."
On Monday, prior to the roster move, Carroll said of Amadi, "He's doing really well. He has been a playmaker on special teams throughout. His opportunities will continue to come about because he has been so consistent in everything he is doing. He hasn't done anything that isn't good. His effort is great. His playmaking, his decision making, the savvy, the situations that he's been in; he's just been really good. So, I'm anxious for him to contribute more. He's one of those guys that have been with us long enough, it's time for him to get some more opportunities so we're looking for that. Still a great competitor for us on a number of positions for us for play time. Coming off the break we have a chance to revisit some of that stuff so, if it fits with different positions, and guys, and individuals, we're looking to take advantage of that."
Amadi held that nickel role in Week 1—though the Seahawks played base defense most of that game—before the Seahawks re-signed Taylor, who was part of the initial roster cuts prior to the opener. But Amadi should be much better prepared for that job now than he was as a rookie in his first NFL game.
"He's gathered hundreds of reps more now," Carroll said. "He's better versed now, more than ever. He's a real smart player and a real heady player. He really has his assignments in order and the techniques that we're expecting him to play. If he's the guy playing in the game, we can really count on him to know what's going on. He's better now than he was just because of the time he spent."
Amadi, who played both cornerback and safety in college, as he has done with the Seahawks, added that since that opener he has been "continuing to learn. Learning how this NFL works. Learning how these split receivers work and how the opponents call their plays."
So far this season, Amadi has impressed his coaches and veteran teammates not just with his talent, but with how he has handled having to bide his time on special teams while waiting for his opportunity on defense.
"He has had limited opportunities at nickel obviously, but when you watch him at practice he's very focused," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "When you watch the plays that he makes on special teams and how he stands out, he's a guy that loves to get to the ball and finds a way to get to the ball. As a rookie when you come in, you understand that your job may not be what you want right away so, you have to figure out how you can make plays on the team. I feel like he's done a great job on special teams. He seems to always be the first person down there on special teams; making a tackle, or something like that. I definitely think he's going to find a way to be productive."
Photos from Wednesday's Seahawks practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's Week 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.