Defensive end Dion Jordan produced four tackles and one tackle for loss last week after being limited in the Seahawks' first six games this season with injury issues. Can an undeniably talented player with an alarming list of injuries finally turn the corner in time for a playoff run?
Dion Jordan understands his reputation.
The former No. 3 overall pick is always injured, they say. He’s not reliable, they say. He’s like a constantly buzzing body in a game of “Operation.” If it’s not his shin, it’s his knee. If it’s not his knee, it’s his neck. The point is, it’s always something.
Last Sunday won’t change that.
Still, it must be said, the Seahawks’ 6-foot-6, 284-pound defensive end looked healthy in his team’s thorough dismantling of the Detroit Lions. He finished with a season-high four tackles and one tackle for loss, and he played 27 (46 percent) of Seattle’s total defensive snaps.
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On the surface, that wouldn’t seem to be any big accomplishment.
But for Jordan — who was extremely limited in the Seahawks’ first six games this season because of a stress reaction in his shin and nagging knee issues — it’s a start.
“I was just grateful, man,” Jordan said on Thursday. “I’m grateful any time I’m able to get out there, especially because of the road I’ve been trekking. That’s the way I’ve been every day since I’ve been here, whether it’s at practice or participating in a game. I’m just grateful.
“It’s always good if I’m able to participate in the type of performance we did in stopping the run last weekend.”
In an emphatic 28-14 road win in Detroit, the Seahawks squeezed the Lions — who rushed for 248 yards and 7.1 yards per carry the week before — into 34 total rushing yards and 2.6 yards per attempt.
They’ll need to replicate that performance at CenturyLink Field on Sunday against a Chargers offense that ranks second in the NFL in passer rating (117.8) and sacks allowed (10) and third in yards per carry (4.9) and rushes of 20 or more yards (8).
To do that, they’ll need a healthy Jordan to play to his potential.
The potential has always been there.
The production? Not so much.
“I know deep down inside that if I’m out there and the ball is snapped, I know how to get to it regardless,” Jordan said. “I know how to do that, and I think I’ve proven it in the few moments I’ve been able to (play).”
The 28-year-old defensive end displayed that in five games last season, racking up 18 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
But the reason he only played five games is because he was injured for the other 11.
The Seahawks know what he’s capable of doing. But can he do it for the rest of the year?
“Dion has been a really good player,” said first-year Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. “I think he’s been a little frustrated about his injury and the length of time it’s taken, but he’s really stepped up and really worked with the trainers, really worked to get himself back on the field.
“Coming into (this job), I’ve heard all these really good things about the strides he’s taken and the development he’s had. For him now to get back on the field, it’s really fun to see a player work that hard, spend that much time getting himself ready and now be able to get back on the field and show what he can do.”
Of course, even against a 5-2 team that ranks eighth in the NFL in scoring offense (27.9 points per game), he won’t have to do it alone.
“We have enough players between Dion, (Barkevious) Mingo, Jake Martin and now that Rasheem (Green) is back — we have enough players to get a good rotation, so he doesn’t have to carry the load,” Norton said of his team’s depth at defensive end. “We can keep him fresh so that he has the ability to stay strong throughout.”
A strong Dion Jordan is a dangerous Dion Jordan. The Seahawks defense — which sits 17th in the NFL in rushing defense (108.3 yards per game), 18th in sacks (19) and 21st in opponent yards per carry (4.5) — could certainly use a disruptive defensive end with a rehabilitated reputation.
“I definitely feel better,” Jordan said. “I don’t know if it’s more physically or if it’s technique. The only way you can get better at playing football is by playing football.
“I’ve just kind of been up and down. At the moment I’m feeling good, and the team is doing good. I think I’m in a good place with this organization and this team.”