By Brady Henderson
It was back in August when Bruce Irvin made a play that served as both a glimpse of his potential as a linebacker and a reminder that it could take some time to fulfill it.
During Seattle’s preseason game against Oakland, Irvin bit so hard on a play fake that he had the running back wrapped up in the backfield before realizing quarterback Terrell Pryor was running toward the sideline with the ball.
While he’s enjoying his new position, Bruce Irvin says he has a long way to go to in his transition linebacker. (AP)
That Irvin found himself out of position in the first place could have been due to him being in the nascent stages of a transition from defensive end, the position the Seahawks drafted him to play when they chose him 15th overall in 2012. That he then chased down one of the league’s fastest quarterbacks from behind spoke to his ability in the open field, one of the reasons why Seattle thought the move to outside linebacker would work.
Irvin is now six regular-season games into the position switch, which has produced some more flashes of brilliance and a few predictable growing pains.
“People say they see good stuff, but I only focus on the mistakes,” Irvin told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “The Huddle” Thursday, “and I’ve got a long way to go.”
Irvin has been Seattle’s starting strongside linebacker since serving a four-game suspension at the beginning of the season. While he’s playing a new position, not all of the job duties are completely foreign. He’s still at times asked to rush off the edge – which he did primarily as a rookie last season – and he had some prior experience dropping into coverage.
“I played safety in junior college,” he said, “so the backpedaling and breaking on balls is really familiar [to] me.”
It sure looked like it when Irvin ran with Rams tight end Jared Cook and made a leaping interception during Seattle’s Week 8 win over St. Louis. Irvin had lined up over Cook in the slot and didn’t take the bait when the tight end faked an out route, leaving him in excellent position to make a play on the ball.
It was Irvin’s first career interception, and it came under the bright lights of “Monday Night Football.” Must have been quite the thrill, right?
“I’m going to be real with you,” he said, “I’d rather get a sack.”
Irvin got one of those later in the game, his second of the season. He had eight of them last season, most of any rookie in 2012 and any in Seahawks history. That made it a bit of a surprise when Seattle moved Irvin to linebacker over the offseason, a switch that allowed the Seahawks get their multitude of pass rushers on the field at once while also taking advantage of Irvin’s ability to make plays in space.
He’s sure happy to have done it.
“That might have been the best decision of my life, moving back to the backer. Me being a defensive end, my body frame is not meant to carry 260, 270 (pounds). I’m a speed guy,” said Irvin, who’s listed at 248. “I think taking me off the line and letting me use my athletic ability more really saved my career.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.