By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Brandon Mebane doesn’t really want to talk about what is shaping up to be yet another impressive season in a career full of them.
Instead, he’ll sing.
“I’m just a nobody,” the Seahawks’ nose tackle sings — and surprisingly well, by the way. “Trying to tell everybody, about somebody, who can save anybody.”
That old Williams Brothers song is the perfect anthem for an interior lineman, so it’s appropriate that one of the unsung heroes of the NFL’s best defense is more interested in singing about being a nobody rather than talking about the Pro Bowl-caliber season he is enjoying.
“I’m just trying to do my job,” Mebane says with a grin. “I’m just an employee of the Seahawks.”
Although Mebane isn’t interested in talking about one of the best seasons of his seven-year career, his teammates are more than happy to do so.
“I feel like he’s very underappreciated in terms of not being, quote, unquote, a household name,” defense end Red Bryant said. “But everybody in this locker room, everybody around the league knows who Brandon Mebane is. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal nose tackle, best in the game. I’m glad and lucky I get to play with him.”
Mebane, the longest-tenured player on a roster that went through a major overhaul under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, has always been a strong force in the middle of Seattle’s defense, but in his seventh NFL season, he may be playing better than he ever has.
“He’s even stronger now,” said defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was Seattle’s defensive-line coach in 2010. “Brandon’s always been a guy inside that had really good strength. And one of the things that sets him apart throughout the league as a nose tackle, for a big guy, he’s rarely on the ground, and that’s easier said than done. There are so many combination blocks and double-team blocks where he gets underneath people and he can knock a guy back. He’s really strong. When he gets underneath you, it’s hard to deal with. One of the things that sets him apart is his balance.”
Like any good interior lineman, Mebane’s impact isn’t measured in numbers, but rather by the way he can make a mess of a play for an offense, creating opportunities for his teammates. Take, for example, the first play of last week’s game in which Mebane blew past Giants center Kevin Boothe, then ran through running back Andre Brown to flush Eli Manning out of the pocket. Red Bryant ended up getting credit for a quarterback hit on the play, an incomplete pass that helped lead to a three-and-out, but it was Mebane’s ability to dominate two blockers that wrecked the play for New York.
Sure, sometimes Mebane is the man making the play — his 145 tackles since 2011 rank fifth in the NFL among interior linemen — but more often he is the guy keeping offensive linemen busy while other players collect the tackles and sacks.
“You just have to watch the tape,” Bryant said. “He’s not just doing it this year, he’s got a body of work, he’s been doing it for seven years. If you turn on the tape, you’ll quickly know who Brandon Mebane is. He’s been a big influence on me, and we respect him. It’s unfortunate a lot of people might be under-appreciative of what he does, but we definitely know.”
On the flip side, the improved line depth around Mebane has helped his game. With the addition of pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and the play of defensive tackles Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald, opportunities have opened up for Mebane to make plays.
“He’s been really consistent over the years; he’s been a great player for us,” Carroll said. “I think the guys around him have contributed to his play and I think just the three-technique play and Mike Bennett being a factor as an inside rusher, Tony has done a nice job too, as has Clinton McDonald. I think that’s all fit together and it’s just bringing out the best aspects of all of those guys. So it’s kind of the chemistry of them.”
Three new names showed up on Thursday’s injury report. Guard J.R. Sweezy (concussion) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (ankle) didn’t practice, while running back Robert Turbin (groin) was listed as a limited participant. WR Percy Harvin (hip) sat out for a second straight day, while Zach Miller (ribs) returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out the day before. S Kam Chancellor (quadriceps) was a full participant after sitting out Wednesday.
The Seahawks promoted receiver Bryan Walters off the practice squad to fill the roster spot vacated by cornerback Brandon Browner’s suspension.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.