Marsh played in only a few games last year because of a broken foot. But he showed flashes of the productivity the Seahawks need to rebuild along the defensive line.
Of all the Seahawks’ returning players, Cassius Marsh’s name idles in the background — the Seahawks’ version of out of sight, out of mind.
That is true for a couple reasons. He is surrounded by accomplished teammates, and he played in only seven percent of Seattle’s defensive plays last season because of a broken foot that cost him most of his rookie season. We just don’t know that much about him.
As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said recently of Marsh, the Seahawks’ second-year defensive end, “It’s like a brand-new draft pick to us.”
The Seahawks return starting defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril but not much behind them. Bennett and Avril both played at least 73 percent of the time last season, and linebacker Bruce Irvin shifted to defensive end in pass-rushing situations. But the Seahawks could use depth, which is where Marsh fits in.
Marsh played in only five games last year, a sample size that makes it hard to gather much information, but he showed flashes of the productivity the Seahawks need to rebuild along the defensive line.
It was painfully obvious that, following Avril’s departure from the Super Bowl because of a concussion in the third quarter, the Seahawks struggled to get pressure.
“What happened was once Cliff left the game, Tom Brady’s quarterback rating went up in a pretty strong manner,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider told Sports Radio KJR in February.
Marsh is a versatile defensive lineman. When the Seahawks drafted him in the fourth round out of UCLA, Carroll said Marsh likely would follow around Bennett, Seattle’s other hyper-versatile lineman, before the Seahawks created an original “scenario” to showcase Marsh. Carroll also warned at the time, “It will take some time to get that figured out.”
Marsh’s broken foot in practice leading up to the sixth game of the season wiped that out, so the Seahawks have to figure out how, exactly, he fits in.
Here’s what we know about Marsh, based off last season:
• “He plays with his hair on fire,” according to Seahawks scout Tyler Ramsey.
That is a common chorus surrounding Marsh. He is quick for his size (6 feet 4, 254 pounds) and has good hands, but the first thing that always comes up is how hard he plays. Carroll said last year that Marsh was “as aggressive and active as anybody that was in the draft.”
• The Seahawks will play him all over.
Marsh typically lined up at defensive end on first and second down and shifted inside to give the Seahawks a pass-rush threat at defensive tackle. He and Bennett give the Seahawks matchup options.
• The Seahawks could use Marsh.
As good as Bennett and Avril were last season, neither missed significant time because of injuries, and the Seahawks had a noticeable drop-off when one of them wasn’t in the game. Backup defensive end O’Brien Schofield signed with Atlanta this offseason, and Marsh is the only other full-time defensive end on the roster (Marsh disclaimer: There’s still plenty of time to address the position via free agency or the draft.) .
Carroll said Marsh has had a good offseason recovering from his injury, and added that his role this season could be important for the Seahawks.