Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seahawks look to Cole to bolster run defense


RENTON, Wash. -- Few positions in football get less recognition than nose tackle.

Players weighing in at well over 300 pounds take a beating and rarely show up on the stat sheets.

Still, if a nose tackle is doing his job correctly, he makes everyone around him on the defense perform better.

This offseason the Seattle Seahawks brought in 6-foot-1, 330-pound Colin Cole, who spent the last five seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

Defensive tackle Craig Terrill says it's great "to have a big guy in the middle" - a player who can "easily take on two blockers and free up linebackers and defensive ends to go make plays."

During the Seahawks' Super Bowl run in the 2005 season, they depended heavily on Marcus Tubbs to command doubleteams and free up the linebackers to flow to the football and the defensive ends to get up field and put pressure on the quarterback. Tubbs played in a career-high 13 games for Seattle and anchored a run defense that finished fifth in the NFL with only 94.4 yards per game allowed.

In 2006, Tubbs suffered an ACL tear that sidelined him most of the season, and the Seahawks' run defense faltered.

Last season, he tried to come back from micro-fracture knee surgery only to be waived during training camp for failing to pass a physical.

Without Tubbs, Seattle struggled to stop the run. The team was forced to play with an extra defender near the line of scrimmage more often and teams took advantage of the Seahawks and managed to put up 378 yards per game against the Seattle defense. The team finished 30th in the league in total yards allowed.

Terrill sees a lot of similarities between Tubbs and his new teammate Cole.

"Those big guys that can still move so fast, they're kind of a wonder," Terrill said. "To be that big, that strong and still be that agile, they're very similar. Both hard players and tough guys too."

Cole will be the anchor of a defensive line looking to return to its 2005 form.

"If you can't stop the run, you're dead in the water," Cole said. "Stopping the run is key."

The Seahawks are hoping Cole can be the player who can fill Tubbs' role.

"I think when you bring in a guy who has the size and the power that Cole does inside, it's helping in the run game," defensive line coach Dan Quinn said.

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