RENTON — Pete Carroll wanted to bring defensive tackle Michael Bennett because the Seattle Seahawks 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,” the Seahawks coach 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 the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.
“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 pass rush, which ranked 18th in the NFL last year in sacks (36). The Seahawks used a combination of Jason Jones and Alan Branch at defensive tackle last season, 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 in Seattle.
At 6-foot-4 and 274 pounds, Bennett provides versatility to the Seahawks. He can play for Red Bryant at defensive end in early downs and at 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 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 help is on the way.
Leading sack man Chris Clemons is expected to return in the next two weeks from anterior cruciate ligament surgery he underwent in January. Speedy pass rusher Bruce Irvin will be eligible to return to the team for the Week 5 game against Indianapolis after serving his four-game suspension for a PED (performance enhancing drugs) violation. And rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill is expected to return to practice 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 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 (who came to Seattle from Denver in a preseason trade for guard John Moffitt) from the team’s practice squad, 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 in two exhibition games. 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 one game. … The St. Louis Rams claimed former Seahawks offensive lineman Mike Person off waivers. Seattle released Person last week to make room for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald.
SEAHAWKS’ NEXT OPPONENT
1:25 p.m., Sunday, CenturyLink Field
Against the Seahawks: The Seahawks will face the Jaguars for the seventh time. Seattle holds a 4-2 advantage over the Jaguars in the all-time series. The last time the two teams met, Seattle manhandled Jacksonville, 41-0, at Qwest Field (now CenturyLink Field) on Oct. 11, 2009.
Stats and stuff: The Jaguars are 0-2 for a reason. Jacksonville is last in the NFL in total offense (213 yards per game) and point per game (5.5). The Jaguars also are second-worst in rushing yards allowed, giving up an average of 173.5 rushing yards a contest. … With Blaine Gabbert sidelined due to a severe cut on his throwing hand, backup quarterback Chad Henne will get his second consecutive start. Henne finished 25-for-38 passing for 241 yards and one touchdown in a 19-9 loss at Oakland last week. Henne was sacked five times, and finished with a 92.1 passer rating. ... Starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew suffered an ankle injury against Oakland, but the team is hopeful he will play Sunday. ... Gus Bradley is Jacksonville’s coach. He served as Seattle’s defensive coordinator the past four seasons before taking over the Jaguars. ... Will Blackmon, a training camp roster cut for Seattle, will start at cornerback for Jacksonville. ... Former Seattle running back Justin Forsett is a backup for the Jaguars. ... Seahawks 2012 sixth-round draft choice safety Winston Guy is on the Jacksonville active roster. ... Jacksonville linebacker Kyle Knox was a roster cut during Seattle’s training camp this year.
Quotable: “He’s a very good influence – a great influence on my life. I had a chance to work with the man a couple of years, and he helped me out with my philosophy and approach and the competitiveness.” — Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, on working with Pete Carroll in Seattle.
Sept. 8 Chiefs 28, Jaguars 2
Sept. 15 Raiders 19, Jaguars 9
Sunday at Seattle
Sept. 29 Indianapolis
Oct. 6 at St. Louis
Oct. 13 at Denver
Oct. 20 Chargers
Oct. 27 San Francisco
Nov. 3 Bye
Nov. 10 at Tennessee
Nov. 17 Arizona
Nov. 24 at Houston
Dec. 1 at Cleveland
Dec. 5 Houston
Dec. 15 Buffalo
Dec. 22 Tennessee
Dec. 29 at Indianapolis