RENTON – Consider this an unusual learning curve for an NFL rookie.
While most use the exhibition season to decode schemes and polish mechanics, Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin is already learning to “deal with adversity.”
Irvin is reminded that he’s played a total of three exhibition games. But he’s already heard negative fan chatter.
“People are talking about how I haven’t gotten a sack yet, but it’s the preseason; you’ll always face adversity, and the best way to deal with it is to just keep working hard,” the former West Virginia star said.
Irvin doesn’t have a sack in three games, nor a tackle. Taken with the 15th overall pick, Irvin was considered the most dangerous speed-rushing end in the draft.
Two rookie pass rushers drafted after Irvin, the Jets’ Quinton Coples (three sacks) and the Chargers’ Melvin Ingram (two sacks) have been more productive statistically.
Todd Wash, Seahawks defensive line coach, is not worried over Irvin’s progress at this point.
“We’ve seen so much development,” Wash said. “The first couple (games) we were seeing some apprehension with his get-off, (being) unsure of things; I think there was a lot of thinking going on.”
Wash said that in the third exhibition game, against Kansas City, Irvin had several quarterback pressures and near sacks.
“We saw him starting to threaten guys on the edge, and he’s using his hands better every day,” he said. “(At practice) today he had three of the best rushes he’s had so far.”
Irvin said nerves were a problem the first two games, but says he felt far more comfortable in Kansas City.
“Everybody is bigger and faster so you have to be more fundamentally sound,” he said. “You just can’t run around everybody; that’s the biggest thing.”
The physical gifts are obvious. Between drills in practice one day, Irvin ran up behind running back Tyrell Sutton, placed his hands on Sutton’s shoulder pads, and leaped over his head.
“I was dumbfounded,” Sutton said.
Wash said he’d seen Irvin do the same thing over the top of 6-foot-3 defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Just leaping over offensive tackles is not a technique that Wash teaches, but he might consider it with Irvin.
“Out here (on the practice field), he plays very carefree,” Wash said. “He just plays, (but) he gets into the game and he’s worrying about keeping contain and whatever else he might need to do. He knows how to play; we just need him to cut loose.”
Wash made an interesting point; although Irvin was drafted to collect sacks, he’s already shown he’s a much better every-down run-stopper than they expected.
“I went in the first round, and some people thought I was a reach,” Irvin said. “So there’s going to be expectations. All I can do is bust my butt and work hard and I know success will come.”
As expected, rookie Russell Wilson quarterbacked the Seahawks’ first unit offense. Wilson showed his growing rapport with receiver Charly Martin, connecting several times.
His most impressive pass may have been a delicate toss on the run when he lofted a 20-yard sideline completion over the fingers of cornerback Richard Sherman into the hands of Sidney Rice.
After taking Monday off to rest a tender elbow, backup quarterback Matt Flynn practiced at full-speed with the second unit, with his highlight being a touchdown connection with Ricardo Lockette.
The Hawks appeared to have no new injury issues, and running back Marshawn Lynch (back) did not practice again, but was back on the sidelines, at least, after rehabbing inside the facility during Monday’s practice.