For most of the season, receiver/returner Tyler Lockett and running back Thomas Rawls were the jewels of the Seahawks’ rookie class.
But in the last two weeks, second-round draft pick Frank Clark has been flashing “preseason” form. With such dominant play during the preseason, Clark seemed like Mr. August, only to go mostly unnoticed until after Thanksgiving.
In the Seahawks’ 38-7 win over Minnesota on Sunday, Clark capitalized on increased playing time by leading Seattle with a pair of sacks, three tackles for losses and a pair of passes defensed.
Getting more snaps on the inside of the defensive line because of an injury to Jordan Hill, Clark used his speed to collapse the pocket and threaten Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
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It lifted Clark’s sack total to three in the past two weeks.
“He’s getting more and more consistent,” Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril said. “He’s a heckuva ballplayer. You’ve got to continue chopping wood and continue to grow. Sometimes rookies get stuck in their ways, but he’s making that transition and he showed it today. Finishing is a big part of pass rushing; he’s learning how to finish.”
Clark said that most of the season, he’d been “in the wrong place at the wrong time; I might not have done my assignment right and I might have been out of place.”
The biggest adjustment about the NFL, coming out of the University of Michigan, he said, was understanding how pro linemen go about their business.
“I had to really dive deep into my film to see how these offensive linemen set, how they block the pass rushers,” he said. “Once I figure that out, it should be straightforward.”
Veteran safety Earl Thomas cited Clark’s explosiveness and desire. “He wants to be great and he will be,” Thomas said.
Clark had no trouble pointing to the value of having veterans on the Seahawks defensive line teach him the ways of their craft.
“They’ve been the biggest help, constantly on me about the little things,” Clark said. “There’s veterans in other programs who don’t care about you, but at the Seahawks, you’ve got guys like (Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane) who genuinely care for you and genuinely want to see you have success. That’s the best thing you could ask for as a rookie.”
The effort in the past two weeks has lifted Clark up to fourth on the Seahawks list of leading sackers behind Avril and Bennett (7.5 each) and Bruce Irvin (5.5).
The addition of another effective pass rusher is welcomed by his linemates.
“If you have three other guys out there who can pass rush, it only makes it easier for you,” Avril said. “They then have to pick and choose who they want to double, and the rest of the guys can capitalize.”