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'Big and Physical' Seahawks Rookie Tariq Woolen Draws Praise from Falcons

The Seattle Seahawks have had a long line of big, lanky corners, and rookie Tariq Woolen has shown flashes of being the next. He's received rave reviews from his teammates and coaches, and now can add a pair of opponents to the list.

Just three years ago, Tariq Woolen was playing receiver for the University of Texas at San Antonio. Now, he finds himself in the spotlight as a rookie corner for the Seattle Seahawks.

Despite the stark contrast from Seattle's dramatic, energy-filled 17-16 win in the season opener against the Denver Broncos to its lifeless 27-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, Woolen has offered a steady presence on the perimeter of the Seahawks' defense.

The 6-4, 205-pound Woolen has started both games, recording four tackles and a pass defended while playing nearly 90 percent of the defensive snaps. Additionally, as AllSeahawks.Com has previously pointed out, the fifth-round pick has played well in coverage.

Woolen played 34 coverage snaps against the Broncos in week 1, allowing zero catches on three targets and a 39.6 passer rating. Through the first two weeks combined, Woolen has allowed three catches for 37 yards on seven targets, translating to a 58.3 passer rating allowed.

Despite being passed on multiple times by the rest of the league, Woolen has made his presence felt early and often, including a blocked field goal against San Francisco that led to Seattle's lone touchdown of the game.

While the 23-year-old has received plenty of praise from in and around the Seahawks' organization, he's made just as much of an impression on his Week 3 opponent - the Atlanta Falcons.

"First and foremost, he's big and physical," said Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota. "I think he stands out in that sense; he's not afraid to tackle, he's not afraid to come up and press, really just be kind of up in your face. I think he's a great player and somebody that's going to be a good player for a long time."

Woolen set the NFL Combine on fire when he measured in with 34-inch arms, ran a 4.26 40-yard dash and vertically jumped 42 inches. Less than a month later, he broad jumped nearly 11 feet at his Pro Day.

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Above everything else, Woolen's pure speed stood out the most to Falcons head coach Arthur Smith

"He's fast, he tries to play physical at the line of scrimmage," claimed Smith. "He can really run."

Woolen entered the NFL with the reputation of being an elite athlete, but he's made it loud and clear that he's also an outstanding football player. The Seahawks have known this for weeks - but the rest of the league is just now finding out.

Woolen will look to continue establishing himself as a building block on Seattle's defense when Sunday's Week 3 contest against Atlanta kicks off at 1:25 p.m.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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