Seahawks have 3 ‘unique’ players competing for open LB spot
RENTON – One candidate to be Seattle’s starting strongside linebacker began his college career as a 300-pound defensive tackle.
That would be Cassius Marsh, a third-year player the Seahawks drafted to play defensive end.
Another candidate is a former defensive back.
That would be Eric Pinkins, who was originally picked to play cornerback but has grown into a linebacker.
Then there’s Mike Morgan, who has only played for Pete Carroll for the past 10 consecutive years going back to his career at USC.
“They are unique,” coach Pete Carroll said of the options at what is called the SAM linebacker. “Mike has been around so long, and we love Mike Morgan. He’s a guy we can count on, we know what he’s going to do, he understands the system. He’s as rock solid as we could hope for in this situation. He’s the first guy up right now, but it is wide open, and I’m really excited to see what Cassius does and really excited to see what Pink does.”
The Seahawks lost four starters from last season to free agency, but of those spots, strongside linebacker is the most uncertain. It’s the spot Bruce Irvin occupied for the past two years, and after he left for Oakland, there’s a three-way competition to see who will fill that spot.
That competition includes Marsh, who went to UCLA as a defensive tackle. By the time he was a senior, Marsh was one of the better pass rushers in the Pac-12. His rookie year in Seattle was cut short by a foot injury, but last season he emerged as a special-teams mainstay. Now, he’s auditioning at linebacker, the group he practiced with on Saturday.
“I love it, man,” Marsh said. “It’s another opportunity for me to use my talents in space and use my athleticism, and I’m still rushing the passer, which is what I love to do. I love it.”
Marsh has followed a unique trajectory in football. Usually players get heavier over time while Marsh has gotten leaner, moving further and further into space.
“I really don’t know how to explain it honestly,” said Marsh, a dogged advocate of Chipotle. “Just changed my diet and worked hard, and this is what my body did.”
It also helps that he’s fast as hell.
“There’s that, too,” Marsh said.
While Morgan is currently first up in practice reps, Carroll said there won’t be a quick decision on the regular-season starter.
“It’s just going to take some time, though,” Carroll said. “They’ve got to accumulate a lot of snaps to get that information.”