Hand comments on Seattle Defense
After ranking last against the run, Hawks made moves to improve
CHENEY, Wash. (AP) _ Randall Godfrey will roam the middle. Norman Hand should be a big help at plugging the line.
This doesn't look like a last-place defense anymore.
The Seattle Seahawks made some key offseason moves to bolster what was the NFL's worst defense against the run last season. Throw in Ray Rhodes as the new coordinator, and it's a no stretch to expect a big improvement this fall.
``They brought us here for a reason,'' Godfrey said Tuesday. ``Everybody who was already here knows we've got to step up. We're not going to rank last against the run this year. We're trying to get in the top five.''
The Seahawks allowed 152.6 yards rushing per game in 2002, the most in the league. They ranked 28th overall, giving up 365.8 total yards a game, and the defensive coaches were fired after a 7-9 season.
``I don't know why the problems happened last year, but this is a new season,'' Hand said. ``This is the most talented defense than I've ever been a part of.''
Linebackers Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons, who missed several games with injuries, will return this season. Besides the addition of Godfrey and Hand, Seattle also signed pass rusher Chike Okeafor.
``Those guys know what they're doing,'' safety Reggie Tongue said. ``They've been around for a while and they've done well for a reason. They're smart.''
On draft day, the Seahawks loaded up on defenders. Cornerback Marcus Trufant was chosen in the first round, safety Ken Hamlin in the second and linebacker Solomon Bates in the fourth.
Hand, a hulking 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, was acquired in a draft-day trade with New Orleans. And linebackers Isaiah Kacyvenski and Orlando Huff got seasoned last year when they each spent measurable time as starters.
``We have youth there and athleticism,'' coach Mike Holmgren said. ``I think we're going to be better in there.''
Don't overlook the steady players Seattle already had in place: veterans like Tongue, cornerback Shawn Springs and tackles John Randle and Chad Eaton.
``We're better,'' Holmgren said. ``Now we've got to see what happens in games.''
Landing Rhodes may have been the topper.
Three years ago, Rhodes took over the Washington defense and boosted the Redskins from 30th the previous season to fourth. He spent the next two years in Denver, moving the Broncos from 24th to eighth in one season.
During workouts at training camp, Rhodes and his coaches have directly challenged the players. Previous coaches often focused on technique, but this year's coaches tell the defense when they're slacking.
They've brought a new intensity.
``It's a good thing. You always have that initiative, but no one wants to get embarrassed on the field,'' Tongue said. ``When you get in the meeting rooms, they're going to embarrass you again.''
It's all constructive at this point because the Seahawks are determined not be embarrassed in the statistics.
``You've got to be disciplined in this defense,'' Godfrey said. ``If everybody does their job, it will take care of itself.''
Note: The following stories are the most recent wire transmissions from SportsTicker and other ESPN.com sources. Versions of some of these stories appear elsewhere on the service.
Hand comments on Seattle Defense
Hand 6\'3 and 310 lbs. ???? ONLY 310 lbs? come on! more like 360 lbs!
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