Cliff Avril had eight sacks for the Seahawks this season. (Elsa / Getty Images)
Jersey City, N.J. — Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn looked at his roster last offseason and noticed a surplus of fast, athletic edge rushers — Cliff Avril, Chris Clemens, Michael Bennett, Bruce Irvin.
To best utilize that surplus, Quinn built what he calls the “Leo” position into his defense.
“Our Leo is what we generally describe as more of an open-side end (opposite the tight end),” he said. “He’s a pass rusher most of the time, but has the ability as an athlete to drop. Really the things we look for in that position are speed and length.
“We want a guy that can really get off the football and jump, so those are the things that we look for in that spot. For us, it’s a pass rusher first who has the ability to drop and play the flat or play in coverage at times.”
Avril, the former Lion who signed with the Seahawks as a free agent after the 2012 season, has fit nicely into the role.
“That’s one of the things that I’ve learned most from coaches, is how to have the unique players and feature them,” Quinn said. “When I left here after my first year with Coach Carroll and went to the University of Florida, I kind of tried to find a way that, even there, some of the things that the guys can do best — and let’s put them in those featured roles.
“And then, certainly when I came back here, with the additions of guys like Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and how can we feature them and put that as part of our plans.”
What's the fuss?
Broncos receiver Wes Welker, a former Patriot who incurred Bill Belichick’s ire for a hit that injured cornerback Aqib Talib in the AFC title game, said Wednesday he still doesn’t understand what the fuss was about.
He said he ran the exact same route when he was with the Patriots.
“It’s a rub play that everybody runs,” Welker told the Boston Herald. “It’s one of those deals where you try to get a rub on that guy, and really, if you can get him to go over the top of you, the more separation the other receiver will have.
“That’s what I tried to do to get Demaryius (Thomas) a little more open, and unfortunately, we collided.”
Belichick, who called the play one of the worst he’s seen, referred to Welker as “the receiver.”
Lynch still silent
Reticent running back Marshawn Lynch was with his Seattle teammates for Wednesday’s media session, but he remained mostly silent.
“I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss,” Lynch said. “That’s the only reason why I’m here.”
Lynch made himself available for just six and a half minutes to the full Media Day gathering Tuesday, though he did grant NFL Network’s Deion Sanders a longer one-on-one. That he was not fined by the NFL incurred the wrath of the Professional Football Writers Association.
“The Pro Football Writers of America, the official voice of pro football writers fighting for and promoting access to NFL personnel to best serve the public, is extremely disappointed in the lack of meaningful access to Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch at the Super Bowl XLVIII media day on Tuesday,” president D. Orlando Ledbetter said in a statement. “Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions.
“We find the statement by the league that, ‘players are required to participate and he participated,’ to be an affront to our membership.”
Orlando Franklin is a 6-7 and weighs 330 pounds. He plays offensive tackle for the Broncos. He was asked what Olympic sport he might want to participate in had he not played football.
“If I was one hundred pounds lighter, I would be a figure skater,” he said. “I think it is tremendous what those people do on skates and they do a great job.”
The St. Louis Rams fired defensive coordinator Tim Walton after just one season. Walton formerly coached defensive backs in Detroit under Jim Schwartz. The Rams, according to an ESPN report, will hire former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.