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Improved Versatility, Conditioning Key Rasheem Green's Strong Start in Fourth Season

Frustrated by his performance after missing six games due to a neck injury last season, Green modified his offseason program while transitioning to a new role. So far, he's already bearing the fruits of his labor on the field as he battles to keep his roster spot.

RENTON, WA - Ever since he first started playing football, Rasheem Green has always worked out of a three-point stance. Whether lined up off the edge or reduced inside, he's in his element with his hand planted in the dirt, eager to fire off the snap and penetrate gaps.

In his first three seasons, the 280-pound Green could count on one hand the number of times the Seahawks utilized him standing up in a two-point stance lined up off the edge. From his recollection, those plays happened during the preseason as a rookie and since then, he played all of his snaps at the 5-tech and 3-tech positions in the trenches.

But now entering the final year of his rookie contract, Green has had to adapt in his fourth training camp in Seattle. In the middle of a competitive battle for playing time and a roster spot in a crowded defensive line group, coach Pete Carroll and the coaching staff decided to try something new with him, sliding him outside for work rushing off the edge and incorporating a two-point stance into his repertoire.

While the transition outside has been quite an adjustment for Green, as evidenced in a stellar outing in Seattle's 20-7 preseason opening loss last weekend, he's already benefiting from the added versatility and has grown more comfortable standing up out wide.

"I used to be against being in a two-point stance," Green laughed. "I've had my hand in the ground ever since high school or since I started playing football, but being in a two-point stance allows me to see the field better and allows me to see what the offense is doing because it's a lot easier to see what they're doing in the two point versus three point. I can still make my calls and I can still have a good get off as long as I have my feet right."

There were few bright spots in Las Vegas on Saturday, but Green certainly was one of them and made his presence known immediately. On the game's opening play, out of a two-point stance in wide-9 alignment, he shot through the B gap before the left guard could recover while linebacker Darrell Taylor occupied the tackle, forcing quarterback Nathan Peterman up in the pocket and into the arms of teammate Bryan Mone for the sack.

Then early in the second quarter, with the Raiders closing in on a second touchdown, Green showcased his versatility returning to his traditional 5-tech "big" defensive end role. Off the snap, he manhandled the tight end and ripped inside, getting a piece of running back B.J. Emmons and allowing linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven to clean the ball carrier up for a tackle for loss. He would later beat the left tackle with a speed rush and bend around the corner, chasing down Peterman for a sack.

In addition, to thwart another potential scoring drive in the closing moments of the first half, Green applied pressure to Peterman as he rolled out to his right and appeared to get a piece of a third down incompletion that was nearly picked off by linebacker Jordyn Brooks at the goal line. Playing into the fourth quarter, though he finished with just one tackle, he recorded a sack, three pressures, and a pass deflection while lining up at numerous spots along Seattle's defensive line.

Considering how difficult the 2020 season was for the former USC standout, Green couldn't have asked for a better start to the preseason.

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Coming off a solid sophomore campaign in which he led the team in sacks and started eight games, the Seahawks expected Green to take another major step forward. But he suffered a neck stinger during a season-opening victory over the Falcons and landed on injured reserve, missing a total of six games.

While sidelined, Green admitted he feared returning to action with a diminished role on the team's defensive line rotation.

"That's always that one thing you worry about when you're hurt. Sometimes there are a couple moves and you lose your role or your spot," Green said. "It was good just being able to go out there and play football because that's something you just can't take for granted."

Luckily, even with Carlos Dunlap arriving via trade in late October, the Seahawks coveted his ability to play end and slip inside to defensive tackle in passing situations and he played at least 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps over the final seven games. In the final three weeks, he finished on a strong note, generating five quarterback hits and a sack to help the team capture an NFC West crown and finish with a 12-4 record.

Still, Green was dissatisfied with how the season played out in large part due to his injury and opted to make some alterations to his offseason program hoping to avoid a similar situation from happening again. He placed greater emphasis on strengthening his neck in the weight room and implemented a kickboxing regimen as part of his workout routine aiming to speed up his hands and feet.

"It's like total body cardio, it's just a different type of exercise diversity, doing football drills and weight lifting. It's just another thing to mix it up," Green stated. 

When asked if he could see a difference on the field, Green indicated his hands and feet "don't get as tired" as they used to and his improved conditioning was apparent against the Raiders in his first game action of the season.

Set to become a free agent in March, the 24-year old Green isn't thinking too far ahead in regard to his future. With L.J. Collier and Robert Nkemdiche vying for snaps playing the hybrid big end role and Dunlap, Taylor, Benson Mayowa, and Alton Robinson competing at the LEO spot, he will have to continue to stand out when given opportunities playing inside and off the edge in the final two preseason games to ensure he maintains his roster spot. He will have to stay on his A game.

But so far, Green has responded to the challenge presented to him, catching the attention of Carroll and his staff. No matter what role the Seahawks ask him to do or where they want him to line up, he intends to give a maximum effort and make the most of his chances to continue making a strong impression.

"I'm going to be happy regardless when I'm out there playing on the field. I mean, the team asked me to play more outside, more of an edge role and I'm just going to embrace that role and go out there and do the best I can."