Defensive end Avril up for challenge with Seahawks

RENTON — Pass rush specialist Cliff Avril got an early introduction to bookend offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini during pass-rush drills during the first days of training camp, competing in some intense battles with the his new teammates.

But the physical tussles are all in the name of improvement, as Avril is penciled in as the Seattle Seahawks’ starting Leo defensive end. With Seattle’s sack leader for the past three seasons, Chris Clemons, still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list while rehabbing from ACL knee surgery, and the team’s second-leading pass rusher from last season, Bruce Irvin, suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, Avril understands there’s pressure for him to lead the pass rush charge at the start of the year.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to do my whole career, is being that guy anyway,” Avril said. “So I’m up for the challenge. It’s great that we have four other guys that can pass rush real well, so I think we’re all going to help each other. For me, it’s just getting better and trying to take on that role.”

Avril also is undergoing a bit of a transition. He played defensive end in a similar, 4-3 defensive front during his five years in Detroit. However, his role will change some with Seattle, where defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will ask the 27-year-old Purdue product to rush from both sides of the ball.

Avril played mostly the left defensive end position while in Detroit.

“He’s really going to help us,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s an experienced kid. And he’s young enough to be strong and really ready to go. And he’s hungry enough to do so something and prove it here, so all of that adds up for him to be a really good prospect that helps us.”

Added Giacomini: “He’s good, man. He’s got speed. We played against each other when we played Detroit, and he’s going to help us tremendously. It’s good to go up against these great pass rushers.”

Avril did not participate in most of Seattle’s offseason program in order to rest a nagging planter fascia foot issue. But Avril said the injury is a thing of the past now, and has not affected him so far during training camp.

“I’m out here practicing and pretty much good to go,” Avril said. “It hasn’t really bothered me. I’m doing my little rehab still on it, but nothing serious as of right now.”

Avril also is dealing with a different set of expectations. In Detroit, he experienced just one winning season in five years with the Lions. But after signing a two-year, $13 million deal to join Seattle in free agency, Avril finds himself on a young team with Super Bowl aspirations.

“I see why the expectations are what they are,” Avril said. “But for us, it’s taking it day by day, getting through each practice and getting better individually. And not looking past anybody.

“We have these preseason games, and we have Carolina (Seattle’s regular-season opener). We’re not looking past anybody. So if we can win each game, obviously we’ll be in the Super Bowl. But we have to take it day by day.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade past Gig Harbor

The pair combine for three homers as the Bruins win the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

Everett’s Ndayiragije claims Class 3A boys high jump title

The favorite cleared 6-8 to highlight locals on day one of the track and field championships.

Jacob Rohde surveys the area at Everett Golf & Country Club during last year’s final round of the Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament. The three-time champion is among this year’s favorites. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
It’s out with the old, in with the new at the County Am

The 93rd Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament takes place Saturday through Monday.

Stanwood’s Chisman, Jackson’s Park claim state golf titles

Conrad Chisman wins the Class 3A boys championship, Chanyoung Park wins the Class 4A girls title.

Seahawks learning new systems as OTAs get underway

New coach Mike Macdonald is using the start of offseason workouts to install his defense, offense.

Edmonds-Woodway comes together for a mound visit during early trouble against Mountlake Terrace in the Class 3A District 1 baseball championship Saturday, May 11, 2024, at Funko Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
E-W faces tall task in 3A state baseball semifinals

The Warriors will likely have to solve Mount Vernon star Xavier Neyens to advance to the title game.

Shorewood’s Rylie Gettmann is one of the favorites in Class 3A girls singles at the state tennis tournaments, which happen at various locations this weekend. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2024 state boys and girls tennis preview

Jackson’s Ben Lee and Shorewood’s Rylie Gettmann are among the top local contenders.

Jackson pitcher Yanina Sherwood is hoping to lead the Timberwolves to their second straight Class 4A softball state championship. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
2024 state softball preview

Here’s a capsule look at the nine local teams that qualified in Class 4A, 3A and 1B.

Glacier Peak’s Mateo Ganje crosses the finish line in the Boys 4x100 during the Eason Invitational at Snohomish High School on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
2024 state track and field preview

Here’s the list of local state qualifiers with top-10 marks in their classification.

NWAC notebook: EvCC’s Gilbert excels at track championships

Plus how locals fared in tennis and softball. Baseball begins Thursday.

Everett High School’s Shukurani Ndayiragije is a contender to win all three jumping events at the Class 3A state boys track and field meet. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Power rankings: Who has the best shot at prep state titles?

Ranking the local athletes and teams who have the best chance during this weekend’s state events.

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for May 13-19

The Athlete of the Week nominees for May 13-19. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.