Quinton Jefferson wants to remind fans of something in Seattle’s preseason opener against the Chargers on Sunday.
“I’m a baller,” Jefferson said Thursday after Seahawks training camp. “People probably forgot about that, but I can still go out and show people I can still ball.”
Jefferson, a fifth-round pick out of Maryland in the 2016 NFL Draft, considers this season his first. The defensive tackle played in only three games last year because of a knee injury he suffered in an October practice. He also suffered a lingering thumb injury early last season.
“It’s just a blessing to be back out here.” Jefferson said. “Almost a year out of football, so any time you get back out there to play and compete with your boys, it’s always good.”
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First-year defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said Jefferson has been “quick and violent,” and also said his effort has been “really, really good.” Hurtt said effort is the No. 1 thing he looks for in a player. Technique, however, isn’t far behind on that list.
“I’m just looking for him to be a dominant edge-setter, play with pad level, having his hands inside,” Hurtt said. “When opportunities come, can he rush the passer? Can he get on edges and win one-on-ones?”
The Seahawks spent this year’s first-round pick on Malik McDowell, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive lineman from Michigan State, but his readiness for this season is unclear because of injuries he suffered in an ATV accident in July.
Jefferson empathizes with McDowell, because Jefferson sat out the majority of his rookie season. Jefferson said he hasn’t had the opportunity to speak with McDowell about the incident, but seems confident he will pick things up when he returns.
“When he gets back out here and back around I’ll definitely keep his spirits up and I know he’ll be in good hands,” Jefferson said. “It’s in God’s hands.
“Being in a situation like that, when you have to sit out your first year, it’s hard. But you gotta see the positives and just reflect on the time. It makes you hungry.”
Jefferson continued, saying time spent off the field would allow McDowell to delve into the team’s playbook, making for an easier transition.
Frequent, early substitutions on the defensive line should be helpful to Jefferson – and eventually, McDowell – when game action ensues.
Most teams don’t rotate their offensive linemen in the regular season, so they’re often fatigued before the game ends. Substituting defensive linemen early allows pass-rushers and run-stuffers to be fresh for crucial, fourth-quarter stops.
“It’s hard when you go out and you gotta literally battle somebody for a full quarter.” Jefferson said. “You get worn down. So any time you go out there and give a guy a blow, there’s no drop-off. It’s awesome.”