November 13, 2013 in Sports

Seahawks defender Bruce Irvin makes smooth transition from DE to LB

Associated Press photo

Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) runs against St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook after intercepting a pass during the first half of an Oct. 28 NFL football game.
(Full-size photo)

Bruce Irvin did something strange and amazing in the fourth quarter against Atlanta.

With the game decided, Irvin took a few powerful strides toward Atlanta receiver Harry Douglas between plays. And then, for no other reason than he can, Irvin jumped over the 6-foot Douglas.

Similar feats have been pulled off before but usually by smaller, nimbler athletes. Bruce Irvin is 6-foot-3 and weighs 248 pounds.

What does jumping over a stationary receiver say about Irvin as a football player? Not much. But it does say a lot about Irvin’s athleticism, the kind that allowed Seattle’s coaches to comfortably move him from defensive end to linebacker.

Irvin is six games into his tenure as an outside linebacker. In his first game after serving a four-game suspension, he had a sack. In his fourth game, he had nine tackles, a forced fumble, a sack and an interception.

“And he still had a lot of mistakes,” linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said. “That’s like an average game for him. The sky’s the limit. There’s no ceiling to what he can do.”

The Seahawks moved Irvin to linebacker as a way to solve a logjam at defensive end with Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons and Irvin. But they also made the switch to utilize Irvin’s gifts – his combination of speed, power and size that allows him to be a factor at the line of scrimmage and in the open field.

Irvin has covered running backs and tight ends, defended the run on first and second down and moved to the defensive line on third down.

“He’s so talented God-given wise that it makes up for his skill right now,” safety Earl Thomas said. “Just think if he keeps working toward improving his skill how much better he can be.”

Irvin still needs some refinement.

“I was always a great athlete,” Irvin said. “I was just waiting for my opportunity to really show that I could be more than just a defensive end or rush-the-passer type guy. I’m really trying to be more of a complete player.”

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