Gotta feel for Rees Odhiambo. The Seahawks’ left tackle ends one game in a hospital bed, and then, if he’s healthy and lucky, gets to spend part of his next Sunday being cracked on by the NFL’s best player, one capable of wrecking the Seahawks’ season single-handed.
At least after the past Sunday, he had pharmaceutical help.
“Once I got the morphine,” Odhiambo said, “I felt normal.”
Unfortunately for him, there really is no antidote for Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald. The pain and embarrassment he delivers simply must be endured.
“He is,” coach Pete Carroll said, “a nightmare.”
But before Odhiambo gets to live the nightmare, starting at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Los Angeles Coliseum, he has to be judged physically capable. So far, so good.
In his fourth professional start Sunday, Odhiambo was struck so hard by a block that, post-game, he had difficulty breathing. King County emergency medical technicians whisked him from the floor of the Clink locker room to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with “only” a bruised sternum — not a bruise on the heart, according to an erroneous early report by ESPN.
The amazing thing was that, after he was injured during the interception return in the third quarter, he didn’t miss a play in the most explosive second half (36 points) in club history.
“When the game was over, the adrenaline wore off, and the pain got a lot more,” he said before practice Wednesday. “It felt scary in the locker room when I couldn’t breathe. Once I got to the hospital, things got a lot better.”
In front of teammates and reporters, EMTs worked on Odhiambo in front of his locker, then put him on a gurney and into an ambulance. Odhiambo didn’t recall much.
“I kinda blacked out there for awhile,” he said. “I don’t remember a lot about it. I started coming to in the ambulance.”
He was a full participant in practice Wednesday, which was an enormous relief to a Seahawks operation that for years has had trouble with the Rams’ formidable front seven. A year ago, when the Seahawks played the first regular-season NFL game in Los Angeles in 22 years, the Rams won 9-3 and Donald had four QB hits and two tackles for loss.
Donald, who ended a contract holdout a week into the season, seems to have lost nothing by missing the preseason. Pro Football Focus said he was the NFL’s most productive defensive lineman Sunday when the Rams beat the Cowboys 35-30 in Dallas to take the NFC West lead with a 3-1 start.
“He’s really problematic,” Carroll said. “There’s nobody like him, quickness-wise. For a guy who doesn’t have big stature (6-foot-1, 285 pounds) , he’s got extraordinary strength, explosion and ability to get off (blocks).
“He makes remarkable plays other guys can’t make. You don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s really a challenge.”
Carroll likened Donald to two perennial All-Pro defensive tackles: John Randle and Warren Sapp, only Donald is faster.
Fortunately for Odhiambo, Donald plays mostly inside. But since the Seahawks at least have some experience in the middle in LG Luke Joeckel (fifth year), C Justin Britt (fourth) and Oday Aboushi (fifth), it would surprise no one to see Donald move to prey on the Seahawks’ most inexperienced lineman.
“You try to keep him from making a lot of plays,” Odhiambo said. “He keeps going until he gets something done.”
He was asked if he agrees with Carroll description’s of Donald as a nightmare.
“You gotta say nightmare,” he said, “given how hard he plays. Gotta give him the respect he deserves.”
Perhaps Odhiambo took advantage of his hospital visit by keeping a little souvenir morphine. Take the help when it’s available.
Art Thiel is co-founder of sportspressnw.com.