With Marquise Blair Sidelined, Seahawks Hoping Ugo Amadi Provides Consistency at Nickel

Thomas Hall10

Despite the cancellation of the preseason, cornerback Marquise Blair still found a way to impress the Seahawks coaching staff during training camp this summer, ultimately earning the starting job at the nickel spot prior to the season opener.

Making a strong impression in Week 1, the former safety played 70 percent of Seattle's overall defensive snaps, producing seven total tackles, four solo tackles, and he also forced a fumble during Atlanta's fake punt attempt as well. Unfortunately, the 23-year old suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Sunday against New England and will miss the remainder of the season.

Since the Seahawks have been keen on increasing the usage of their nickel defense this season, they’ll need someone to step up moving forward and they look to have already found Blair’s replacement. Considering teammate Ugo Amadi spent time in the slot last season and performed well this past weekend, coach Pete Carroll is confident the former fourth-round pick will be able to utilize his familiarity at the position and run with the opportunity over the next few weeks and perhaps for even longer.

“He knows the position quite well, he’s an effective football player in that wherever you put him in the game things happen. He’s been really special and in the [special] team’s area and the other night he was all over the field,” Carroll discussed. “So, we’re excited to have that kind of experience backing up and it’s not a wealth of experience because he played half a year last year. But it’s good to have him and we do trust him, and he knows our system really well.”

Coming off the bench midway through the second quarter, Amadi didn’t miss a beat on the field and made a few meaningful plays before halftime. In particular, the 23-year old helped keep the score tied at 14 apiece in the first half, as his two-yard tackle for loss on running back Rex Burkhead forced the Patriots to settle for a 51-yard field goal but they missed wide to the left.

Making another impactful play in the third quarter, the Oregon product ultimately prevented New England from scoring its third touchdown of the game, as he was the only player in the area that could prevent Burkhead from walking into the end zone. Thanks to strong safety Jamal Adams' sack on the next play, the Patriots were forced to settle for another field goal attempt, this time from just 25 yards away.

In total, Amadi earned 47 defensive snaps (65 percent) and also received 12 snaps (43 percent) on the special teams unit, recording a career-high eight solo tackles. Additionally, the 5-foot-9 cornerback also performed effectively in pass coverage, allowing just 46 yards, 25 yards after the catch, and an 88.0 passer rating.

Though the former Duck enjoyed plenty of success in Week 2, he’ll need to clean up his tackling efficiency before the next game, as he missed a pair of tackles against the Patriots. If he can do that, he will provide a boost to a secondary that has been hit-and-miss in the first two games.

While Seattle’s defense has allowed a ton of explosive pass plays through two weeks of action, they’ve still been able to get their hands on plenty of footballs, as they’ve generated 10 pass deflections and a pair of interceptions. Citing teammates Quinton Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin in particular, Carroll admitted they’ve both performed extremely well so far and believes they’ll each continue creating lots of havoc in pass coverage moving forward.

“They’ve played really solid, they’re going to catch some balls – seen already 100 passes it seems – they’re going to catch some balls,” Carroll explained. “Quinton [Dunbar] has had a chance to have three interceptions already. He’s been in position, couple balls he couldn’t quite seal the deal on, but he had a big pick in the game and another really good play in the game too. Shaq [Griffin] has been really solid on the other side and I think those guys are doing fine.”