Seahawks: Kevin Pierre-Louis getting reps at SAM linebacker
By Keith Myers
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is getting reps at the SAM linebacker spot, which is one of the more compelling position battles for the Seattle Seahawks.
Bruce Irvin is now a member of the Oakland Raiders. The competition to replace him at strong side linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks in the base defense is heating up during OTAs.
For now, undersized speedster Kevin Pierre-Louis has the early lead. He’s been getting all the reps with the 1s in recent workouts. It remains to seen if he can keep that slot once training camp begins.
KPL isn’t build to be a SAM linebacker. He lacks the size and power to set the edge against defensive ends and fullbacks. Instead, his speed and quickness make him ideally fit to play on the weak side.
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It would make sense for Seattle to move KJ Wright back to the SAM spot and play KPL at WILL. Wright was the team’s SAM LB for two seasons, but moved to WILL to make room for Irvin. He is bigger and more physical than Pierre-Louis, making him a better fit for the position.
The problem with moving Wright is that he’s been an incredible player on the weak side. The Seahawks love his length and instincts there. If they can leave him at WILL, they will definitely try to do so.
The biggest challenger to KPL for playing time right now is Eric Pinkins. The former safety has the speed the Seahawks covet. He’s also noticeably bulkier (in a good way) this offseason. He’s clearly been hitting the weight room hard in an effort to get ready to compete at linebacker.
Defensive end Cassius Marsh will also get a long look at SAM, and there’s a good chance he’ll see playing time at the spot in short yardage situations. The concern with him is that he lacks the flexibility to help in coverage. He simply isn’t the same level of athlete as Pierre-Louis and Pinkins.
There are also a pair of promising rookie free agents. Both fit the athletic profile, but I refuse to speculate how they’ll factor into the competition until I’ve seen them in training camp.
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For now though, it seems that Pierre-Louis has the edge. We’ll have to wait and see if he can make the most of this opportunity.