Shaquem Griffin played 41 defensive snaps in his first career NFL game and then played just nine defensive snaps in his next 24 games combined.
So even though it was just 14 snaps last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Griffin was excited to be back in the mix on something other than just special teams.
“I had a lot of reps in practice so I had a good idea I was going to get in. I was glad they called my number to contribute as much as possible,” Griffin said.
Griffin played just as many snaps as veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah in similar roles. Neither Griffin or Ansah saw the field outside of third down situations or in two-minute drills. But while Griffin’s chances during his rookie season came at linebacker, Griffin has been put back into a more familiar role as a pass rush specialist by Seattle. It’s a role he succeeded in at Central Florida when he recorded 17 sacks during his college career.
“It always feels good to be out there and get after the ball a little bit and just be able to use my speed,” Griffin said. “It’s less thinking. It’s just more playing ball.”
At just six-feet tall and 227 pounds, Griffin is an undersized pass rusher. He knows he needs to succeed with his speed to be an effective pass rusher. However, he believes his size brings some positives to the table as well.
“I just do everything I can. I can go fast, offensive line can’t. I can bend, offensive linemen can’t,” he said. “You’ve got to better utilize the things that they can’t do good and be able to work it the whole week. So my whole thing is if they don’t like bending, make them bend. If they don’t like running, let’s get them tired.
“As soon as they see me out there, they’re going to want to just take off and try to get to a spot that I’m trying to get to and it’s going to rush them off their spot. It’s going to rush them to open up the lanes that’s going to give me a chance to get to the QB. No one likes to feel uncomfortable out there and once you make them feel uncomfortable, that’s when things open up.”
While neither Griffin or Ansah were effective in their limited roles against the 49ers, head coach Pete Carroll said they want to give Griffin more opportunities to show what he can do.
“He’s active,” Carroll said. “The thing that he really brings is a whole level of speed and activity that we like. We’ve been working him in practice. We just want to continue to expand that and see how that goes. We have to use him better. As we see him, we’re learning more about what we can do with him. He was a good addition I thought.”
For Griffin, it was a positive step forward in a role that feels much more suited to his abilities.
“It felt really good. I wasn’t nervous at all,” Griffin said. “Once you get to that point where you feel you’re in a good situation, a good spot and play the ball you know, all you can do is just give it everything you’ve got. That’s how I felt. Even when the ball wasn’t going my way it felt good just to run after it. I just feel good. I know what I’m doing out there so me having that feeling it just slowed the entire game down.”