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Rookies fitting in on Seahawks defensive line

Rookies fitting in on Seahawks defensive line
Seattle Seahawks defensive line coach Travis Jones, center, gives instructions to players as they take part in a practice drill at an NFL football minicamp on Thursday, June 13, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Seattle's secondary was already one of the league's best and the Seahawks had signed free agents Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to help bolster the defensive end position.

That left defensive tackle as one of the few positions of need for the Seahawks defense entering the NFL draft in April.

The Seahawks used two picks on defensive tackles, taking Penn State's Jordan Hill in the third round and Alabama's Jesse Williams in the fifth. Both had already made an impression on the coaching staff by the time mini-camp concluded on Thursday.

Hill and Williams have been thrown into the mix with the veterans and are holding their own as they try to learn the nuances of the pro game.

"They fit in terrific," defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "... Both of those guys have a real blue-collar approach to it, which you like. They want to come in and do the work. Playing defensive tackle is tough duty. It's a dirty job in there and both those guys recognize that and put the time in and the work."

When the offseason began, head coach Pete Carroll wanted Hill and Williams to start out at one position and get comfortable without putting too much on their plate. Hill began at nose tackle with Williams at the other defensive tackle position during the Seahawks' rookie mini-camp in May.

Now that they have a month under their belts, Seattle has started to take advantage of their versatility. Hill is working at both defensive tackle positions while Williams is playing tackle and end. Carroll said Williams will begin playing nose tackle as well when they begin training camp next month.

"That versatility helps. Both kids are really smart and they get it and they have really good work ethic," Carroll said.

Carroll said Hill and Williams have been able to handle everything that's been thrown at them so far despite trying to learn multiple positions along the defensive line.

Williams said he's been able to pick things up quickly because of the similarities between the Seahawks defense and the one he played in the last two years in Alabama.

"It was pretty easy for me to pick stuff up," Williams said. "... I'm pretty comfortable out there right now and I'm looking forward to learning and growing as we go on."

While Hill was the higher draft pick, Williams may be the one who has more of an opportunity to contribute right away. The Seahawks are looking to fill the vacancy left by Alan Branch's departure this offseason. Seattle signed veteran Tony McDaniel from Miami to fill that spot before drafting Williams. Now the pair will compete for playing time at the spot. Carroll said he thinks Williams could be a guy they rely on this season.

"He's going to make a bid for playing," Carroll said. "He's going to play a lot I would think. He has a real chance to do that and I won't be surprised if that's what takes place."

Hill and Williams have already been getting work with the first-team defense. While Carroll said coaches won't truly know about their ability until they are able to see them in pads during training camp and the preseason, the two have put themselves in a position to be contributors for the Seahawks this fall.

"Now we just go out there and start banging on each other and see what happens," Carroll said.
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