RENTON, Wash. – When he came out of Alabama, Jarran Reed was regarded as a run-stopping defensive tackle.
That was it.
Anything else he provided for the Seattle Seahawks was going to be extra.
“He was a real dedicated run defender coming out. We did not see him specialize in rushing the passer. He has just emerged through his focus and dedication and hard work; he has become a complete player,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
On a defensive line where pass rush was a major question entering the season, Seattle has received an unexpected boost from its starting defensive tackle. Reed is second on the team with 6 1/2 sacks entering Monday night’s game against Minnesota.
But it’s more than just sacks where Reed, a 2016 second-round pick, has provided help to Seattle’s pass rush. Reed leads Seattle in quarterback hits with 17 and had six last week against San Francisco to go along with one sack.
Even when he’s not taking the quarterback down, Reed is helping provide the kind of pressure quarterback pressure Seattle’s defense needs.
“I think he expects to get to the quarterback more than he used to and he wanted to develop his pass rush game,” Carroll said. “He worked hard at it and I think his mentality to rush the passer is just the best it’s been.”
Reed agreed with Carroll’s assessment. Reed said he decided this offseason he would focus on his pass rushing, perhaps realizing the impact he could provide to Seattle’s defense if he could get pressure from the interior.
With Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril gone, Seattle lost its two top pass rushers. Frank Clark was the only returning defensive lineman with a track record of having success getting to the quarterback. It’s why the defensive line – and the pass rush specifically – was such a major question for the Seahawks entering the season.
Reed’s success has alleviated some of those concerns. He had three sacks in his career entering the season.
“The major emphasis last offseason was to get better at my all-around game, to be more reliable, to be on the field more for the team,” Reed said.
Reed said most of his offseason work was done in basic places. He would go to parks or football fields around Atlanta to practice his skills and would work out at a local gym.
If there were a sand volleyball court available, he would go there to train. Reed chose not to go to any of the high-end training facilities for his offseason work, with the exception of spending some time back on campus at Alabama:
“I don’t go to all the fancy little other things everybody goes and spends all that money on. I don’t do that. I just use what the earth has. If it has some grass, I can run on that. If it has sand, I can run on that. I lift at a regular gym, for real.”
Reed’s challenge this week will be disrupting Minnesota’s passing game. The Vikings have the seventh-best pass offense in the league in yards per game, but they use a lot of short passes to make their offense work. That may not allow the same opportunities for Reed to get to the quarterback as a week ago.
“He was a great run defender and he came in here and was able to do that, but I think he’s just expanded the scope of his game and it’s obvious,” Carroll said. “He’s been a nice factor.”
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