It didn’t just seem like Frank Clark spent most of Friday night in Denver’s backfield.
He actually did.
The Seahawks’ top rookie draft choice entered at defensive end in the first quarter -- and didn’t leave until late in the fourth. He was in on 51 of Seattle’s 71 snaps on defense, one behind rookie cornerback Tye Smith whom coaches also wanted to see as a nickel back. Clark rushed in off the edge, and from an inside hybrid-tackle spot. Clark got past slower guards like starting end Michael Bennett did so successfully on obvious passing downs last season. It’s the first time he’s ever played inside, and he says he’s still getting used to needing new moves inside because the contact comes sooner after the snap closer to the ball.
On Clark’s first play he broke through Denver’s starting line midway through the first quarter and dumped C.J. Anderson for a 3-yard loss while forcing a fumble by Anderson. The Broncos recovered.
“I’ll remember my first play in the NFL,” Clark said, smiling.
Pete Carroll liked what he saw from his second-round draft choice from Michigan, the pick that got national critcism in May.
“You couldn't miss Frank. He had a bunch of plays that he was really active,” Carroll said. “He has looked like that in practice, he has looked like he can be a factor and help us, and it was great that he carried that to the game."
I asked the coach if he played Clark that long to force him back into game shape, since it was his first game since mid-November. Clark got kicked out of Michigan’s program then after his arrest and two-day jail stay on a felony domestic assault charge in Ohio that got reduced to a misdemeanor.
"We just wanted to get a lot of plays on him so we could see what he could do,” Carroll said. “He plays in different spots, and stuff like that, so we were just gathering information.”
Clark said he felt how long he was out there Friday.
“I acutally haven’t played since November; it was the Northwestern game,” he said. “It was a long time ago. It was great to be out there.”
▪ The snap counts also show how much third-string quarterback R.J. Archer was forced to play, the most snaps on offense, after Tarvaris Jackson left one drive into the third quarter with a sprained ankle. Carroll said late Friday he wasn’t sure if Jackson had a more-extensive high-ankle sprain or not; I expect to learn more after the Seahawks return to the practice field tomorrow morning in Renton.
I also wouldn’t be surprised given Jackson’s injury and Archer’s continued struggles throwing the ball that Seattle goes shopping for a new backup QB before Friday’s second exhibition game at Kansas City.
▪ Rookie Mark Glowinski continues to impress. The fourth-round draft choice from West Virginia is quick off the ball and moves defenders out of the holes he gets to well in advance of ball carriers. He’s been behind starting right guard J.R. Sweezy, but line coach Tom Cable always talks about finding places for “the best five guys” to become his starting offensive line. Continue to keep an eye on No. 63.
▪ Marcus Burley played so much because he was starting for Richard Sherman (hip-flexor strain). Don’t expect Sherman to rush back this week, with only three real practice days before the Kansas City exhibition. So Burley, acquired at the end of 2014’s preseason from the Colts to become a fill-in nickel back, may start at corner against the Chiefs, too.
▪ Cassius Marsh’s rise continues. Fifty snaps was a heavy workload coming off his broken foot that derailed his rookie year midway through last season, but he still was zooming by Denver’s blockers in the fourth quarter. He and Clark combined to dump running back Juwan Thompson for a 1-yard loss on Denver’s final offensive play with a minutes left Friday.
"Cassius has had a great camp,” Carroll said, for maybe the third time in a week. “He's been active in practice. He's been doing stuff the whole time. So for him to play that way, it looks like he's prepared to do that. That's really good stuff for us to see.”
▪ No, B.J. Daniels is not a quarterback again. He got all his snaps at wide receiver and caught two of the four balls thrown his way, including a 14-yarder he came back to get. And Keavon Milton was in early at left guard as that competition with Alvin Bailey to replace the departed James Carpenter continues. Apparently the official NFL database, from which I got these snap counts, still has Daniels and Milton at their previous positions.
▪ One reader already noticed on my Twitter feed rookie Brandon Cottom isn’t on the snap-count list above. The undrafted free agent from Purdue entered noticeably on Seattle’s second drive with the starting offense, as the fullback in an I formation ahead of tailback Robert Turbin inside the Denver 10-yard line. He also was on the first kickoff team. Cottom is getting as many first-team reps as any undrafted rookie, so at this point he has a chance to make the team – whether he’s on the official snap-count list or not.
Backup FS Ronald Martin also wears 42, and the official snap-count list has Martin for 17 snaps on offense and 12 on defense. So safe to guess Cottom was in for 17 offensive plays, Martin for 12 on defense.