SEATTLE — Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll wanted to bring in a player like defensive tackle Michael Bennett because Seattle needed an interior pass rusher who could cave in the middle of the pocket in obvious passing situations.
And so far, Bennett has exceeded expectations in filling that role.
“He’s a very creative rusher, he’s very active,” Carroll said. “He’s big enough to match up yet still quick enough to get away from guys and make them miss him. I think he’s just what we’ve been looking for.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Bennett recorded a sack, a quarterback hit, four hurries and three tackles in his 42 snaps against San Francisco.
“It says a lot about our team,” Bennett said about Seattle’s 29-3 trouncing of San Francisco. “We are a young, hungry team. You know, we got a great quarterback, great players in every position, and it’s just good to be out here and play at a higher level every week.”
Along with defensive end Cliff Avril, Bennett was brought in to help Seattle’s fledging pass rush. The Seahawks used a combination of Jason Jones and Alan Branch last year inside at defensive tackle, but got inconsistent pressure from the interior of the defense. The duo finished with a combined four sacks in 2012.
Bennett had a career-high nine sacks with Tampa Bay last season. And he’s off to a good start so far in Seattle.
At 6-4 and 274 pounds, Bennett provides versatility for the Seahawks as well. He can spell Red Bryant at defensive end in early downs, along with playing defensive tackle in passing and running situations.
“He’s an active run player,” Carroll said. “He’s not going to load up and play the heavy duty stuff like we get from Red (Bryant) or from (Brandon) Mebane, but we can take advantage of his style by doing the things that he does well.
“We’ll move him around and make sure that he’s not a sitting target for them. He’s going to make plays, just because he’s so active and his motor’s so good.”
More good news for Seattle’s pass rush is they are not at full strength. Defensive end and last season’s team sack leader Chris Clemons is expected to return in the next two weeks from ACL knee surgery in January. Linebacker and speedy pass rusher Bruce Irvin will be eligible to return to the team for the Indianapolis game in Week 5 after serving his four-game suspension for a PED violation. And rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill is expected to return to the practice field this week from a strained biceps injury suffered during training camp.
“We got a couple of guys out right now,” Bryant said. “We are holding it down until they get back. I mean the sky is the limit, and every man in here knows the opportunity that we got in front of us and we just want to take full advantage and give it our all, every chance we get. So we just stay humble, stay focused, keep working. We will see where that’ll take us and see how far that takes us.”
Added Carroll: “We’re still a ways away from getting it all just right, and we’ve got some guys coming back to us. Clem (Clemons) is getting close. When Bruce (Irvin) gets back, it’s going to be a pretty exciting group. You talk about competition; those guys will be battling to get those rush opportunities.”
The Seahawks released defensive tackle Sealver Siliga from the team’s practice squad on Tuesday, replacing him with defensive end Adewale Ojomo. At 6-4 and 270 pounds, Ojomo was active as a pass rusher in exhibition play for the Giants, posting 6.5 sacks over two preseasons. Ojomo, 24, was released by the Giants last week after being on the active roster for Week 1. He signed with the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Miami in 2012. He spent his entire rookie season on the Giants’ active roster, but only played in one game. Seattle received Siliga in a trade with Denver for offensive lineman John Moffitt. … The St. Louis Rams claimed former Seahawks offensive lineman Mike Person off of waivers on Tuesday. Seattle released Person from the active roster last week to make room for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald.