In two preseason games, David Bass has shown his versatility on the defensive line. The fifth-year pro who played college ball at Division II Missouri Western State could be a valuable role player for the Seahawks this season.
The Seahawks drafted rookie defensive tackle Malik McDowell in the second round this year hoping to add depth on the defensive line and groom a versatile pass rusher who could spell Michael Bennett in games.
Through two preseason games, with a third at home against Kansas City looming Friday, fifth-year pro David Bass has made a strong case to be part of the committee of linemen who will rotate behind Bennett and Co. this season.
“You see a guy who plays with a lot of effort, brings energy, that can win in pass rush one-on-one situations, and obviously a guy who can set edges in the run game and knock people back. He’s done that very well in this camp,” said defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, who worked with Bass when they were with the Chicago Bears in 2014, and who campaigned for the Seahawks to sign him this offseason.
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Bass, who was a seventh-round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2013, signed with Seattle as a free agent in May after two seasons with Chicago and two in Tennessee.
He played defensive end in Chicago, starting two games in 20 appearances, then switched to outside linebacker in Tennessee’s 3-4 scheme. Bass played 29 games for the Titans, earning seven starts in 2015. But is now back to his roots at defensive end for the Seahawks.
Bass’s pass-rushing skills stood out against the Chargers and Vikings. He and Greg Millhouse sacked Chargers backup quarterback Kellen Clemens in the preseason opener, and Bass was equally effective against the Vikings, tallying two tackles, two quarterback hurries and one pass defense in the Seahawks’ win.
Also, in the Minnesota game, the Seahawks capitalized on Bass’ versatility and moved him inside to defensive tackle in certain packages.
“We’re playing him kind of like we play Mike (Bennett),” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week. “We move him around because he has savvy like that. He did a nice job of rushing inside last week on a couple of really good rushes. Right now he’s battling and he’s doing a really good job.”
Bass said this week that he occasionally worked as an interior defensive lineman in practices or on scout teams when he was with the Bears and Titans, but until last Friday, he’d never done it in a game.
“I felt comfortable (with it),” Bass said, adding that the biggest difference in playing inside vs. outside comes against the run.
“Playing certain run blocks like a double or a scoop block that I wouldn’t normally get on the outside, I have to work at stuff like that,” Bass said. “But pass rushing is very comparable. Everything just happens quicker.”
That the Seahawks have expanded his repertoire is a good sign. Seattle prizes versatility at all position groups, and Bass has shown that he’s a valuable role player who can fill in wherever he’s needed on the defensive line.
“He’s a guy who can do a lot of different things for us. “He’s a very smart football player, so he’s very versatile,” Hurtt said. “The overall thing is that we’re trying to continue to build our depth and trying to improve the overall quality of the group, so obviously the more defensive linemen we have, the better. He just makes the group that much better.”
Bass has also proved his worth on special teams. Last Friday against Minnesota, he recovered a fumble Chris Carson forced on Rodney Adams’ opening kickoff return to begin the second half.
“He’s instinctive, he’s got a good sense for the game, he plays really hard, and he’s done exceedingly well on special teams also, so he’s a complete player in that regard,” Carroll said.
After changing cities three times in his five years in the league, Bass, who played his college ball at Division II Missouri Western State, is cautiously optimistic about his chances to make the roster in Seattle.
He’s worked up a good rapport with his teammates, saying he’s learned a lot about technique from guys like Bennett and Cliff Avril, and he’s risen to every challenge the Seahawks have placed in front of him.
But, as a new father – his daughter, NaRiyah was born on June 21 – he’s not moving his family out to Seattle unless he makes the team.
This wait-and-see game is the toughest part of trying to make it in the NFL, Bass says.
“There’s really not much stability. You’re not guaranteed anything, and you’ve gotta come out every day and prove yourself,” Bass says. “Even when you make the 53, you’ve still gotta prove it because they’re constantly looking for the best.”
NaRiyah and Bass’s wife, Jahnene, came out to visit this week, but they will remain in St. Louis, Mo. – his hometown – until final roster cuts are made.
Bass says he was fortunate enough to be home to witness the birth of his daughter, and he got to spend the first month with her before he had to return to Seattle for training camp. But with a young family to feed, he’s now more motivated than ever to make the final roster with his new team.
“It adds responsibility,” Bass says of his introduction to fatherhood. “It’s not just me anymore, not just me and my wife. We’re here, and we’re gotta take into account NaRiyah.”