Jordan Hill was limited during his rookie season by a biceps injury, while Jesse Williams missed the 2013 season after having knee surgery. But the defensive tackles the Seahawks drafted last year are back and battling.
Jordan Hill never had a redshirt season at Penn State. In fact, the defensive tackle the Seahawks selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft didn’t miss a game in his final three seasons with the Nitty Lions.
But during his rookie season with the Seahawks, Hill played in only four games after damaging his left biceps during the preseason and then injuring his right arm once he returned from the first injury.
“I had never been injured like that before, so it was something new and it was frustrating,” Hill said Wednesday, when coach Pete Carroll canceled the team’s scheduled OTA practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center and the players did conditioning drills.
“It was one of those injuries (the biceps) where when I was walking around I looked fine. But as soon as I got out there I just didn’t have the power.”
Hill is part of the group Carroll and his assistant coaches have dubbed the redshirt class – those players selected in recent drafts that have yet to play, or played sparingly, because of injuries. The group also includes Jesse Williams, a defensive tackle who was a fifth-round draft choice last year but spent his rookie season on injured reserve after having knee surgery in August.
“I didn’t redshirt in college, so I didn’t really know how it felt,” Hill said. “But you could definitely say I redshirted because I was basically sitting back and learning from the older guys.”
But Hill and Williams are back, and have even been working in tandem during the team’s OTA practices. Monday, Hill deflected a pass, pressured the passer into throwing an incompletion and stopped a running back for no gain. Williams, meanwhile, has been throwing his weight around against the run and more importantly – and impressively – running down plays that are run away from him.
“They’re doing well,” defensive line coach Travis Jones said. “Both have had a good offseason and trained really well. So they came in in much better shape than either one of them was in last year. It’s been real refreshing and fun to see them running around and competing in drills.
“I’m real pleased with the progress each has shown this spring.”
At one point last year, it appeared that the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Williams might fill the three-technique tackle spot in the base defense with the 6-1, 303-pound Hill taking over in the nickel. But injuries removed Williams and Hill from the mix, and Tony McDaniel and since-departed Clinton McDonald excelled in those roles.
The redshirt duo is doing its best to make up for lost time this offseason.