By John Boyle
The Seahawks offensive line, which has struggled at times this season, has a tough challenge on its plate Sunday against one of the NFL’s top defensive fronts. Seattle offensive line coach Art Valero has known Bears defensive coordinator Rod Merinelli since the two coached together for four seasons in Tampa Bay, and knows his linemen will have their hands full.
“They’ve got great talent and they’re going to play hard,” Valero said. “They’re going to be technically and fundamentally sound. So it’s always a challenge.”
Particularly daunting is the task of facing Julius Peppers, a freakishly athletic 6-foot-7 defensive end who has been one of the game’s best for nearly a decade. Spending a good deal of time blocking Peppers will be rookie left tackle Russell Okung, who has played less than one half of NFL football in his career.
“Hey, welcome,” Valero said. “Welcome. There’s not a lot you can do about it. You’ve got to go out there and play, study a lot of film, and Russell’s just got to go out there and learn from others’ mistakes and stay within his game, and I think he’ll be OK.”
As for Okung making just his second start against the likes of Peppers, Valero said it wouldn’t really matter who the Seahawks play this week.
“They’re all good in this league,” he said. “It’s like a rodeo. You’ve got to ride the bull that comes out of chute A. That’s yours, whether you want him or you don’t… You have no choice. If you’re afraid, go to church. They’ve got no choice. They’re all on full scholarship, so they’ve got to go play.”
Also, a congrats has to go out to John Carlson and his wife, Danielle (OK, especially his wife Danielle) who had their first child last night, William Daniel Carlson. Young William, the son of an NFL tight end and a former Notre Dame volleyball player, no doubt has a bright athletic career in front of him if that’s the road he chooses. He checked into the world last night at 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and both he and mom are in good health, Carlson said.
Carlson should be on the field for this afternoon’s practice, though he may be a bit tired. Asked how much sleep he was operating on, Carlson said, “Not much. I’m going on adrenaline right now.”