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Tom Johnson’s history gives him an edge with Seahawks

Seahawks DT Tom Johnson has his eyes set on a starting job in Seattle. (AP)

When the Seahawks signed a pair of ex-Vikings defensive tackles in free agency, it was with the hope that they could bolster a dimished defensive line at a bargain price.

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But while the deal was seen as a two-for-one acquisition (a swap of sorts, with tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephens coming in to replace Sheldon Richardson, now coincidentally with the Vikings), the Seahawks shouldn’t necessarily expect less production from the pair.

“I’m expecting to start,” Johnson told John Clayton during an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle. The 33-year-old ex-Viking, who signed with Seattle March 23, started 15 games for the league’s top-ranked defense last season. “I think I’ve got the talent to do so. I’m a competitor. And initially they brought me here to pass rush.”

Seahawks general manager John Schneider told Clayton earlier this year he expects Johnson’s overall playing time to be reduced a bit (Johnson played nearly 70 percent of defensive snaps ) but called him a high-motor player with an infectious mentality who has continued to improve throughout his career.

“(Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer) is a very discipline, structured coach,” Johnson told Clayton. “He wants everything to be chalkboard ready and go. Here, coach Carroll and coach Norton are more just that you run and be athletic, and me being a 3-technique and them having a true nose guard, it puts me in a position that I can take more chances with the one-on-ones on the pass protection. Which if you get more one-on-ones, you get more opportunity. From the last couple years in Minnesota, to keep all the fast guys on the field they had me playing a lot more 2i, which means I’m going to be more more of a guy that’s got two guys on him. That statistic right there, I think that it’ll give me more opportunity, which will put me in a better position to make more sacks and affect the quarterback more. That’s my role that initially got me here, and I’m definitely going to try to embrace that and step up and be aggressive.”

It’s his past experience in 3-technique that gives a slight edge over Richardson, at least when it comes to transitioning to Seattle’s defense.

“In an attack defense, I think a 3-technique is one of the guys that can be real aggressive,” Johnson said. “You want your (nose guard) to be patient and use his hands, but as a 3-technique guy you want a guy that can get off the ball and play the run with an attack mentality but also can pass rush when you need him. To be aggressive on the second downs, to be able to put pressure on the quarterback. I can see where there would be adjustment from a two-gap to an attack defense. But coach Norton, man, he gives me the freedom to be able to go out and be aggressive and be athletic whenever I need to. So I think that this was a better situation for me.”

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