SEATTLE — The rise of Benson Mayowa is startling because of the depth from where he started.
When asked in May to single out anyone impressive from Seattle’s rookie minicamp, coach Pete Carroll called to mind one player, if not that player’s name. “That kid from Idaho,” he responded.
That Carroll didn’t know Mayowa’s name then isn’t surprising; the volume of turnover combined with the sheer number of NFL rosters in the offseason can be overwhelming. But it does illustrate how far Mayowa had to climb to reach this point: Starting at defensive end in the second exhibition game Saturday against the Denver Broncos.
Or, as Carroll summed up his progression not long ago, “Well, I know his name now.”
Mayowa’s start against Denver does, however, comes with an asterisk. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril were out again because of injuries, depleting Seattle’s depth. But Mayowa didn’t start the first game against San Diego and was a guy the Seahawks wanted to see against better competition.
The results were mixed.
Mayowa struggled against Denver’s first-team offense. He generated little pressure when Peyton Manning was in the game. In the run game, he was exposed some as Denver’s line pushed back his 252-pound body.
“I don’t feel like I played my best game,” Mayowa said. “I feel like I could have affected the quarterback a little bit more, but that’s going to come with more wisdom and more technique.”
He put his battle with Denver’s left tackle in different terms later on: “I won some, and he won some.”
Mayowa said he could tell the difference between facing the first team and playing against the second- and third-teamers. He also admitted nerves probably got the best of him early because he was too excited.
He fared much better once Manning and much of the first team exited. Mayowa used his speed to slip around Denver’s tackle and wrap up the feet of quarterback Brock Osweiler as he was trying to get rid of the ball for a sack.
Mayowa has 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries in two exhibition games.
“You ask me what I’m looking for,” Carroll said, “I’m looking for consistency from guys that made plays in the first game and can they come back and do it again? And he did it.”
Earlier in training camp, Carroll said the Seahawks liked what they’d seen from Mayowa.
“He’s shown an unusual knack for rushing the passer,” he said then.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin described Mayowa as “unblockable.”
But Carroll added a caveat: The Seahawks needed to judge Mayowa in live situations to see if his unusual knack for pass rushing played out in games.
Mayowa has been able to produce results so far. His future with the Seahawks still is uncertain, but he has gone from a nameless player to one whose name is now in the conversation to stick around.
“That’s what I’m here for,” Mayowa said.
“I’m here to get to the quarterback. As long as I keep doing that, the longer I’m going to stay.”
Seahawks trade Moffitt
The Seahawks ended their battle at right guard Monday by trading John Moffitt to the Cleveland Browns.
In return, the Seahawks received defensive end/tackle Brian Sanford, adding depth to a defensive line where several players are dealing with injuries.
Moffitt, a third-year veteran from Wisconsin, had been competing with second-year pro J.R. Sweezy. Sweezy had run with the No. 1 offense throughout camp and started the first two exhibition games.
The trade of Moffitt indicates the team’s faith in Sweezy’s play.
Seattle has also been pleased with the progress of rookies Michael Bowie (a seventh-round pick) and Alvin Bailey (an undrafted free agent), and trading Moffitt might make it easier for the team to hold on to each of those players. Each is listed as a tackle but can play guard — Bailey has seen increasing time at guard the past week. Second-year player Rishaw Johnson is also competing at guard.
The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Sanford, who played at Temple, is entering his fourth year. He has played in just six games - one last season-making three tackles. However, he has gotten off to a good start in the exhibition season, making a sack along with three tackles in two games, and he was projected to be part of Cleveland’s defensive-line rotation.
The Seahawks listed Sanford as a left defensive tackle on the depth chart for Friday’s game at Green Bay that was released Monday afternoon.
Listed ahead of Sanford on the depth chart at left defensive tackle are Tony McDaniel, who has been ailing with a groin injury but is expected to return this week, and rookies Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams.
While Seattle listed Sanford at tackle, he was listed at end by the Browns, and he could be tried there as well by the Seahawks. The Seahawks are waiting for Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons to get healthy, and for Bruce Irvin to serve his four-game suspension for PED use.
Moffitt, a third-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2011, showed promise as a rookie, starting nine games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
He recovered well enough to start six games last season, and play in eight, as well as play in both playoff games.
Moffitt made news in the spring after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct in relation to three incidents in Bellevue Square in 2012 that included urinating in public.
However, he reported to camp having trimmed about 10 pounds, and hoped to regain a starting job.
Instead, his trade appears to solidify Seattle’s offensive line, with the other four spots having been constant throughout camp.
In an interview on KJR-AM, Moffitt said he had “no bad feelings” over the trade and that it showed that “at the end of the day it’s a business, it’s money, it’s X’s and O’s, it’s who can you get and who is worth what.”
Cleveland has had injuries at guard and Moffitt will be thrown into the mix for playing time.
Seattle made another move to bolster the depth on the defensive line Monday, signing undrafted free agent Dewayne Cherrington, a 6-3, 335-pound tackle who played at Mississippi State and had a tryout with the Seahawks last week. He was on the Patriots’ roster for about a month earlier this year before being released in June.
Seattle cleared the space to add Cherrington by waiving kicker Carson Wiggs, a free agent from Purdue who was attempting to make a run at the starting job held by Steven Hauschka.