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Seahawks DL L.J. Collier
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Heaps: With Seahawks carrying just 3 DTs, pressure falls on Collier and Green

Jake Heaps thinks L.J. Collier will play more DT than DE in 2020 for the Seahawks. (Getty)

The Seahawks have cut their active roster down to 53 players and while there weren’t too many surprises as far as who did and didn’t make the team, one shock to many was that Seattle, as it currently sits, only has three defensive tackles on the team.

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Starters Jarran Reed and Poona Ford are back, as was expected, and also making the team is second-year player Bryan Mone, an undrafted rookie free agent last season who appeared in four games for the Seahawks in 2019. Demarcus Christmas, a 2019 sixth-round pick, was waived, as was 2020 undrafted rookie Cedrick Lattimore, though Lattimore was signed to Seattle’s practice squad.

So what is the plan on the interior of Seattle’s defensive line? Former Seahawks quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy shared his thoughts on Tuesday.

“Three defensive tackles, that is extremely unusual when you talk about building your defensive line,” Heaps said. “You want to be able to have great, proven depth there with those defensive tackles with those big bodies, because they get worn down very quickly in games and you need to be able to keep those guys fresh.”

With just Reed, Ford and Mone on the roster, Heaps thinks two young players will be playing more of a role in the middle of the Seahawks’ defensive line than initially anticipated.

“They are putting an extreme amount of pressure on (defensive ends) Rasheem Green and L.J. Collier,” Heaps said. “L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green are going to be playing dual roles as five-technique defensive ends and also playing at the defensive tackle position.”

The Seahawks have used players listed as defensive ends at defensive tackle in the past, most notably with Pro Bowler Michael Bennett. On early downs, Bennett would line up on the edge and then slide inside on third downs or in obvious passing situations.

Green, a 2018 third-round pick who led the Seahawks with four sacks in 2019, and Collier, the Seahawks’ 2019 first-round pick, both play the five-technique defensive end, which is typically employed by larger defensive ends. Green is listed as 6 foot 4 and 279 pounds and Collier is listed as 6-2 and 291 pounds. Reed, Ford and Mone are all listed at over 300 pounds. Bennett was listed at 275 pounds.

“They are hoping that those two guys can really be solid on the interior and more so than anyone else, L.J. Collier,” Heaps said. “L.J. Collier is listed as a defensive end but I promise you, he’s going to be playing more defensive tackle than he will defensive end this year. You can book it right now.”

The duo of Green and Collier will be critical for one area the Seahawks have struggled the last two seasons.

“They have to be able to establish a really good rotation on that defensive line or else they’re going to be in trouble when it comes to their run stopping, and that’s my one concern,” Heaps said. “When you look at this group, yes pass rush is a concern and we’ll see how they get that done, how they manufacture it – do they blitz more? But really, is this group going to be able to be solid in the run game in the interior? I trust in Jarran Reed and I trust in Poona Ford, but what is behind those two guys that’s part of that rotation? That’s the big question.”

Listen to the full second hour of Tuesday’s Tom, Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps on Twitter.