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New position, less attention in Shaquem Griffin’s 2nd year

Seattle Seahawks’ Shaquem Griffin adjusts his hair as he steps forward to be interviewed by media members Thursday, June 13, 2019, at the team’s NFL football training facility in Renton, Wash. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks’ Shaquem Griffin adjusts his hair as he steps forward to be interviewed by media members Thursday, June 13, 2019, at the team’s NFL football training facility in Renton, Wash. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
By Tim Booth Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. – Shaquem Griffin is thankful for a relatively normal offseason, even if it included a position change.

After a year during which he was in the spotlight for first being drafted and then making the Seattle Seahawks roster despite having lost his left hand as a child, the second-year linebacker enjoyed the lack of attention this year.

“I didn’t have to worry about the extra everybody trying to hype your head up and get you big-headed, and stuff like that, and everybody telling you what you can and cannot do,” Griffin said Thursday as the Seahawks wrapped up their mandatory minicamp. “More so for me was to take time for yourself, find out who you are, find out what you want to do, find out what your goals are, and what you want to get out of the next season and go after it.”

Griffin will begin his second training camp next month in a different position and feeling more comfortable when he’s on the field. Griffin has moved from weak side linebacker to the strong side, where he will play closer to the line of scrimmage. Griffin’s ability to be disruptive there won’t be known until the preseason rolls around and Seattle can gauge his effectiveness as an undersized rusher off the edge.

But Griffin is all for the move because it’s a return to what made him successful in college.

“You can see him on the edge, in space and coming off the edge and pressures and stuff like that, that it’s a good spot for him,” coach Pete Carroll said.

Griffin started the first game of his rookie season due to need, but he had mixed success in his first season as a professional. He was a regular contributor and a standout on special teams, but after that opener in Denver played sparingly. He had just 11 tackles as a linebacker and only four in the final 12 games.

Seattle struggled to find a way for Griffin to make an impact, which led to the offseason change. Rather than playing off the line of scrimmage, Griffin will be on the edge, allowed to play in space, and will both rush the passer and drop into coverage.

It’s a return to what he did at Central Florida when he was one of the most disruptive players in college football.

“It’s the exact same thing. I’m rushing, I’m dropping, I’m going man-to-man coverage, I’m setting the edge. I have so much time,” Griffin said. “I remember so much from college on how I need to set the edge and what’s best for me and how I need to use it that it just snapped right back as soon as they put me there. I’m having so much fun again. It’s just such a big difference because I feel so comfortable.”

One question will be whether Griffin can play on the line of scrimmage at his weight. His goal is to come into training camp at around 230 pounds. He and his twin brother, Shaquill, hired a personal chef in the offseason. Shaquem wanted to put on good weight, while Shaquill was trying to slim down.

Shaquem acknowledges it was his brother’s idea.

“I’m just like, ‘I agree with you. Whatever we need to do,’” Shaquem said. “It helps so much.”

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