Cassius Marsh didn’t want to be playing special teams for the Seattle Seahawks.
He wanted to rush passers, get sacks and force fumbles. He said special teams wasn’t something he took seriously when he joined Seattle as a fourth-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2014. He had rarely, if at all, played special teams in high school or college.
“I had never played special teams other than like field goal block,” Marsh said. “I just wanted to be a defensive lineman. And it’s something I had to get over.”
But there was Marsh on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, first getting, as coach Pete Carroll put it, his butt chewed out on the sideline for a defensive mistake that led to a 50-yard gain. Then he made two crunching tackles on special teams, blocked a field goal and put the final stamp on the Seahawks’ 12-10 win with a strip-sack of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
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The blocked field goal was the first of his NFL career. So was the sack.
“How is the backup guy able to have that much of a factor? That’s because he’s a terrific player,” Carroll said.
“He made a mistake in there, too. He got his butt chewed out on the sideline. But other than that he had a fantastic day.”
Marsh was drafted as a defensive end, but battled Mike Morgan this offseason for the starting job at outside linebacker to replace Bruce Irvin.
Marsh lost out on the job, so he’s focused on other ways he can contribute, such as those crushing tackles on punt returns and getting his left hand on a potentially game-tying field goal.
“Until I got here, I had never not been a starter,” Marsh said. “It’s always been a big deal for me to be a part of this defense. So that opportunity, it opened my eyes and maybe it motivated me to work harder.
“I think everyone in this room would tell you I took my preparation from this offseason and into the season to a next level, and it’s helped me on the field.”
He blocked two field goals for UCLA, including one his junior year in a 44-36 win over Washington State in 2012.
This one Sunday came with 10:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, with the Seahawks leading 6-3 and the Dolphins going for a 27-yard field goal. Marsh charged through the line and got his left hand on the ball.
It atoned for his earlier mistake.
Miami’s longest play of the game came on a pass to the left flat to running back Arian Foster. As a rush defensive end, it was Marsh’s responsibility to cover Foster.
He didn’t, and Foster ran 50 yards before being tackled.
“I made that mistake and as soon as they threw it I knew it was me,” Marsh said. “The overwhelming feeling of just letting my teammates down, that’s what came to me.
“I fully intended on making up for it. … I can’t let my teammates down and then not make up for it. That’s now how we do things around here.”
TJ Cotterill: @TJCotterill