Notebook: Limiting expectations for Ansah, Clowney in first game with Seahawks
The Seahawks’ newest iteration of their front seven will be the biggest story of Seattle’s regular season opener – in part because it’ll feature several Pro Bowlers, but also because it’ll feature several Pro Bowlers who have never before played together.
While defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah come into Week 1 facing high expectations, the fact that neither has played a snap for the Seahawks clouds their start with a bit of uncertainty.
That doesn’t mean fans can’t expect an accelerated learning curve for the pair. Clowney is a five-year NFL veteran who is coming off a year that saw him record his second-highest single season sack number (9.0) and tie his career-best single-season quarterback hits number (21). Ansah, meanwhile, has had a slow start to his stint in Seattle. The former Detroit Lion signed in May but first had to regain strength in his surgically-repaired shoulder and later had to bounce back from a groin injury. He practiced with the team for the first time on Aug. 27, however, and hasn’t had a setback.
Head coach Pete Carroll has kept the game status of both players close to the vest, but both should start if healthy. The 30-year-old Ansah will likely be on a snap count, though, and should the Seahawks choose to rest him the team will turn to either Rasheem Green or Branden Jackson at the LEO spot.
“We’re not going to over-expect here, as we have in the past,” Carroll said when asked about acquiring players shortly before the start of the season (Seattle agreed upon a trade for Clowney Saturday). “Hopefully we’re making progress. Hopefully we make progress through the game and then get to Game 2 and continue to make progress as we go. I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we will be with those guys, so we’ll just take off and see what happens and adjust as we go and learn them as they learn us and hopefully make really good decisions along the way and make progress.”
Seattle’s front seven will now be comprised of Clowney and Ansah, defensive tackles Al Woods and Poona Ford, and linebackers K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks. Wright, Wagner and Kendricks have also seen limited playing time together through the preseason, but that isn’t something that concerns Wagner.
“We know how to play football,” Wagner said Wednesday. “I mean, it’s just going out there and playing football with each other. For all the time we didn’t get in preseason games and things like that, we got a lot of reps in walkthrough, we got a lot of reps in other areas, we spent a lot of time in the film room to understand what each other are thinking… the work we did off the field should help us speed that process up a little bit.”
The Seahawks remain in wait-and-see mode on the statuses of a few key players for Sunday’s opener against the Bengals, including starting left guard Mike Iupati (calf) and rookie defensive end L.J. Collier (ankle). Carroll didn’t say whether or not Ansah, Clowney or rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf (who is recovering from knee surgery) would be on a pitch count Sunday.
Should Iupati – who went through a walkthrough earlier this week – be unable to start against the Bengals, Carroll said the team feels comfortable starting Ethan Pocic in his place.
Iupati was one of four Seahawks who sat out practice Wednesday. Center Joey Hunt (high-ankle sprain), wide receiver David Moore (shoulder), and starting left tackle Duane Brown (knee) were also out.
Tackle George Fant (ankle), wide receivers DK Metcalf (knee) and Jaron Brown (toe), defensive ends L.J. Collier (ankle), Ziggy Ansah (shoulder), and Jadeveon Clowney (NIR), and linebacker Shaquem Griffin (knee) were limited. Rookie safety Marquise Blair was a full participant after exiting the second half of the Seahawks’ preseason finale against the Raiders with a back injury.
Clowney was originally assigned No. 91 after being acquired by the Seahawks, but the veteran has since swapped jersey numbers with defensive tackle Jarran Reed. Clowney will wear No. 90 while Reed will wear No. 91.
— Seahawks PR (@seahawksPR) September 4, 2019