Someone who should benefit from the Seattle Seahawks defensive changes is defensive end Nick Reed. Right now the second-year player out of University of Oregon product is working with the second unit at the newly created Leo position, or weak-side defensive end, behind Chris Clemons.
“We have a new staff, but it’s the same defensive line coach (Dan Quinn) and defensive coordinator (Gus Bradley), so the transition isn’t as big,” Reed said. “We’re changing some things up, but as far as just comfort with the schedule and the system and how things go, I feel a lot better.
The Seahawks are looking to get quicker off the edge of the defense in order to generate a more consistent pass rush, and Reed’s size (6-1, 245 pounds), high motor and pass rush ability fits what they are looking for out of the Leo position.
“I really like it,” Reed said about the position change. “I think it’s going to give me a better opportunity to get on the field more for this team, and I’m very excited about that. They’re not throwing everything at us at once. They are putting it in slowly so we’re getting comfortable with everything. I think it’s a good spot for me.
“To be honest it’s not a lot different. There’s a couple, different variations, but it’s the same position with a few tweaks here and there.”
Another thing that works in Reed’s favor is his ability to make explosive plays while he’s on the field. Reed earned a roster spot last year by creating explosive plays during the preseason, finishing with 14 tackles, four sacks, two pass deflections and an interception.
In limited action during the regular season, Reed finished with 17 tackles, a sack and two pass deflections and a fumble recovery returned for a 79-yard score against Jacksonville.
Reed also was one of the top special teams players for the Seahawks.
Reed understands it will take a similar effort to continue to earn more time on the field.
“I don’t like to get caught up in like, ‘Today I’m going to get these kind of stats.’” He said. “You’ve just got to go out and lay your butt on the line every day. But I think that was a big factor in helping me make the team last year, and I think it will be important this year again.”
The key for Reed getting on the field more will be his ability to be stout against the run. In order for Seattle’s switch to the Leo position to be effective, the player working in that spot has to be able to play the run as well so the Seahawks can run the defensive alignment in early downs and not just in passing situations.
“That’s kind of been my thing all along, is that I need to show them that I can play the run,” Reed said. “You don’t know whether it’s going to be a run or pass, so you want to be in all the time so that you can be in for those passes. So I want to show them that I can play the run so that I can get on the field more often, and be there for all of the passes.
“To get more playing time you have to show them you belong on the field, and that comes with production and consistency. So I just try and be consistent every day.”
Here’s a look at some of the plays Reed made in is first preseason game last year against San Diego.