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Seahawks S Marquise Blair
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Huard: Seahawks need ‘explosion’ Marquise Blair provides as a starter

Seahawks rookie Marquise Blair had a team-high 11 tackles and a forced fumble Sunday. (Getty)

The Seahawks’ defense has been a work in progress all season long, but one rookie may have established himself as the keeper of a starting role.

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Marquise Blair, a second-round selection out of Utah, has shined at strong safety over the past couple weeks, showing the kind of aggressive play that convinced Seattle to use a high draft pick on him and reminds some of previous Seahawks “intimidator” Kam Chancellor.

Blair has started the past two games, and he especially looked comfortable in Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons, making a game-high 11 tackles and forcing a pivotal fumble near the goal line in the fourth quarter (watch here) that was as important of a play as any in Seattle’s victory.

“The forced fumble that looked like Earl (Thomas) and Kam’s stuff right there before the goal line – is that the play of the game?” said Brock Huard to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Monday. “If they don’t force that fumble and Atlanta scores, that makes it a six-point game at that point (and) all the sudden you get real nervous.”

The Seahawks waited a while into the season to press Blair into a regular role, but after seeing what he’s done since joining the starting lineup in Week 7 against the Ravens, Huard said it’s clear he belongs.

“There’s no question,” Huard said about Blair being a starting safety going forward. “Marquise Blair absolutely has to be a part of this.”

So what was the holdup? Blair was hampered by a hamstring injury and missed significant time in the offseason and training camp, which Huard said caused head coach Pete Carroll to be hesitant about rushing Blair. The fact that Seattle has two other young safeties was also a factor.

“You have invested a lot of time in Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson – three years’ worth,” Huard said.

When it comes down to it, though, Blair has something the Seahawks haven’t had since the Legion of Boom was disbanded.

“Ultimately you just look at the pop and the explosiveness, it’s why he was the (Seahawks’) highest-drafted secondary member since Earl Thomas (was picked in the first round in 2010). They took him in the second round because that kind of explosion popped off the film in Salt Lake City, and this defense needs that kind of explosion.

“This group just needs an injection of play-making and speed in all facets of it, in all three levels of that defense. I don’t think in my mind there’s any question that number two-seven (Blair) has gotta be in that part in every game moving forward.”

But what about Blair’s hard-hitting style, which could result in penalties for unnecessary roughness? That’s not something Huard thinks the Seahawks will be concerned with.

“I think that group needs that, and if they’re gonna get a 15-yard penalty because he actually brings some thump and hammer, great.”

You can listen to Huard’s full thoughts in this podcast from Monday’s Danny and Gallant show.

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