Russell Okung bobs his head to reggae music playing on his iPod.
He fancies himself a good dancer, sometimes coaxing fellow lineman Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan to awkwardly move along to the mesmerizing beat.
He’s thoughtful and introspective, speaking in measured words about topics other than football.
He’s a good teammate, willing to make individual sacrifices, including putting in extra time studying film and lifting weights.
And for whatever reason, the Oklahoma State product and No. 6 overall selection in the 2010 draft, does not like to talk about himself, which is why there won’t be any words from him in this story.
But others are more than willing to talk about the good year the third-year pro is putting together. Okung has not given up a sack through nine games. Drafted as the immediate replacement to one of the best tackles to ever play the game in Walter Jones, Okung appears to be finally living up to those lofty expectations, putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber performance after two injury-marred seasons.
“Russell’s playing real well,” center Max Unger said. “I think he’s done a good job. He’s had some pretty tough injuries his first couple years. But he’s a very talented guy, I don’t think there’s any question about that. And he’s kind of putting it all together right now.”
Okung’s 2011 season was shortened because of a torn pectoral muscle; he was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list after 12 starts.
In his rookie season, Okung suffered high-ankle sprains on both legs that forced him to miss a total of six games.
Okung missed one game this season because of a bone bruise on his left knee, but for the most part he has been injury free.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable said Okung has picked up where he left off at the end of last season.
“Before he got injured, this is how he was playing that last three weeks,” Cable said. “So we’ve been here before. And the nice thing now is to sustain it for the long haul. And that’s who he is – that’s the player he is.
“He’s fortunate now to really be healthy, and be able to go out every week and prepare, play the whole game and do all of those things. I just think he’s who he is, who he’s supposed to be.”
Okung hasn’t been perfect. He has a league-high 10 penalties, tied with Dallas offensive tackle Doug Free. But he has faced some of the top pass rushers in the league, including Minnesota’s Jared Allen, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and San Francisco’s Justin Smith.
“There’s a lot of good pass rushers lining up out there, and that’s kind of his primary job,” Unger said. “People make a big deal out of that. And if you take a person like that out of the opponent’s game plan and have him do a pretty good job out there, it takes a lot off of the rest of the offense.”
Okung’s solid play – and good health – has helped create stability along the offensive line. The Seahawks have allowed just three sacks in the last three games.
Tags: Bone Bruise, Center Max, Coach Tom Cable, Giacomini, Good Year, High Ankle Sprains, Injured Reserve, Left Knee, Lifting Weights, Lineman, Lofty Expectations, Offensive Line Coach, pro bowl, Rookie Season, Six Games, Talented Guy, Torn Pectoral Muscle, Walter Jones
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