By Michael Cohodes Payant
Special to 710Sports.com
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams has logged thousands of plays in his NFL career and, entering his 12th year, he has gained an appreciation for the benefits of limiting his snaps over the course of a season. The depth of the Seahawks’ defensive-line rotation was a factor in his decision to leave the Vikings after 11 seasons in Minnesota, Williams told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” Tuesday.
“Being a workhorse so many years in Minnesota, I think it’s going to benefit me a lot to come in here and be with a somewhat veteran group of D-linemen and be in a great rotation,” Williams said. “I think we’re all going to benefit from it.”
According to the website FootballOutsiders.com, Williams played over 700 defensive snaps last season, which was roughly 61 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. Minnesota had three other defensive linemen – Jared Allen (91 percent), Brian Robison (83 percent) and Everson Griffen (60 percent) – who played at least 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
As a point of comparison and a testament to the Seahawks’ defensive-line depth, no member of that group played 60 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps, with Michael Bennett leading the way at 57 percent.
For all defensive linemen, especially those in the twilights of their careers like Williams, every snap they don’t play provides a chance to recharge and be more effective when they’re on the field. Williams said his heavy workload in Minnesota at times required him to sacrifice some intensity in order to pace himself.
“You kinda go 80, 70 percent sometimes on some plays just trying to make it through the whole game,” Williams said. “Now, I think you’re able to go 100 percent, for four or five plays, get your rest, come back in and do it again. And at the end of the day, be fresh in the fourth quarter when most games are won.”
Over the offseason, the Seahawks lost three key contributors on their defensive line. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant were both cap casualties while Clinton McDonald signed with the Buccaneers in free agency. Each of the three played over 50 percent of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps in 2013.
Even with the three offseason departures, the team’s defensive-line rotation projects to include Williams, Bennett, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, Greg Scruggs, Cassius Marsh and likely one or two additional players, depending on who else the team elects to carry on its 53-man roster. This should allow the Seahawks to keep their line fresh and fierce through games and over the course of the season.