RENTON – If you’re looking for this year’s J.R. Sweezy – a dark horse who makes the Seahawks’ roster – keep an eye on undrafted rookie free agent Benson Mayowa.
With starting “Leo” defensive end Chris Clemons on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list while recovering from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and his backup Cliff Avril nursing a hamstring injury, Mayowa has been working with the first-unit defense at times during training camp.
And he’s more than held his own
“The one thing that struck me early is he’s ready to go compete,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “… There’s some guys who might step back when it really gets going, and he’s just the opposite. So I’m encouraged by what I see, and each day we’re developing him.”
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Mayowa first caught the attention of the Seahawks’ personnel department at the NFL regional scouting combine held at the team’s facility in March when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and posted a vertical jump of 38 inches.
The University of Idaho product consistently flashes speed off the edge during one-on-one pass rush drills.
“He’s done a really cool job at this camp,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s shown an unusual knack for rushing the passer, and so far he’s been very impressive. We don’t know what that means yet – we haven’t gotten him in enough live situations – but every day he’s come up with a play of some sort to gain some recognition.”
While rushing the passer comes naturally to Mayowa, he also understands that in order to develop into an every-down player, he has to be solid against the run.
“Attacking the tackle in run blocking,” Mayowa said, when asked about things he needs to improve. “When they come run block me, I have to get stout and stronger on that, because it’s going to happen in a real game.”
Mayowa said he played the same position of weak-side defensive end at Idaho in a similar 4-3 defensive scheme, so that has helped his transition.
He finished with three sacks and eight tackles for loss his final season for the Vandals.
“There’s a lot of players that come from playing linebacker and then go to that,” he said. “But me playing the same position, I’ve got the upper hand right now. And that’s going to help me.”
A native of Inglewood, Calif., Mayowa said he received interest from other colleges coming out of Inglewood High, including Oregon, but wound up at Idaho because he did not have the grades to get into some of the high-profile NCAA Division I schools.
“I wasn’t a great student,” he said. “But I ended up not getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse, and Idaho called me and said they would try to get me up there.”
With players such as Clemons and Avril injured, Mayowa has taken advantage of his consistent playing time.
“This is a great opportunity,” Mayowa said. “Especially being a rookie, I didn’t get drafted so I have to make the team. And people are hurt, people are out so I have to step in, and I have to give it my all every day.”
The Seahawks waived/injured Steilacoom High graduate Greg Herd on Thursday.
The Eastern Washington University receiver sat out most of Thursday’s practice with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.
The Seahawks cut Herd because they needed the extra spot on the 90-man roster to add receiver Perez Ashford.
The Seahawks claimed Ashford, a Northern Illinois product, off waivers from New England.
Seattle also signed undrafted rookie tight end Andrei Lintz, a former star at Meridian High near Bellingham and Washington State University. In order to make room for Lintz, the Seahawks released running back Ray Holley.
MOCK GAME TODAY
Carroll said the team will run through a mock game during the team’s training camp practice this morning.
In anticipation of the team scrimmage, Seattle ran through a light practice Thursday with helmets and jerseys but no pads.
“It’s a test day for them,” Carroll said. “It’s to show us where they are and how far they’ve come. We are one week away from the (opening exhibition) game and we will try to make evaluations. It’s a big day for those guys. All of the guys are competing for their spots. It’s a great chance for them to show that they are ... willing to contribute.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org/seahawks