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Why brought-back veteran Jamar Taylor could be Seahawks’ first nickel Sunday at Pittsburgh

TNT’s Gregg Bell on Jamar Taylor, quietly a standout this month, battered runnings backs and more from Seahawks camp day 14

The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell on veteran defensive back Jamar Taylor, quietly a standout this month, battered runnings backs and more from Seahawks camp day 14
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The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell on veteran defensive back Jamar Taylor, quietly a standout this month, battered runnings backs and more from Seahawks camp day 14

Not only is Jamar Taylor back, officially re-signed to the Seahawks, he has a chance to go straight into the starting defense.

The NFL’s official transactions for Tuesday stamped what became known Monday: the Seahawks brought back Taylor 10 days after they had released him among the final roster moves of the preseason.

The veteran was a starter at cornerback and nickel defensive back for Cleveland in 2016 and ‘17. So he knows Seattle’s next opponent better than any other Seahawk: His former Browns’ AFC North-rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Taylor has played against quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers four times in his seven-year career.

Sunday in Pittsburgh will be the fourth time the Seahawks have played the Steelers in the last 16 years.

That’s just one reason Taylor may be Seattle’s fifth defensive back against the pass this weekend.

Rookie Ugo Amadi has a shoulder issue that is concerning, coach Pete Carroll said Monday.

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The rookie fourth-round draft choice from Oregon was the first nickel back in last weekend’s opening win over Cincinnati. Safety Bradley McDougald ran into and through Amadi while they were trying to cover a Bengals pass late in the second quarter. Amadi stayed down and was helped off the field. Akeem King replaced him for one play, then Amadi returned.

Taylor has already beaten King for the nickel job once this summer. Taylor was one of the Seahawks’ best cover men in training camp. He eventually became the first nickel back for the final two preseason games. Then the Seahawks released him Aug. 31.

Doing so keeps the team from guaranteeing all of his $895,000 salary for 2019. Now that he’s re-signed after week one, the Seahawks will pay him by the game.

The Seahawks waived Parry Nickerson Tuesday, 10 days after they traded a conditional seventh-round draft choice to the New York Jets for him. The second-year defensive back’s head was swimming in Seattle’s defensive playbook last week; that’s why he didn’t play against the Bengals. The Seahawks won’t lose the draft pick for Nickerson now.

How much the Seahawks play nickel against the Steelers on Sunday is one of the interesting adjustments from week one to week two. Seattle has been a nickel team 70 percent of the time in recent years in the pass-happy NFL. But last weekend the Seahawks had a fifth nickel back on the field for just 29 percent of the defensive snaps (22 out of 77 plays).

For the first game, anyway, Carroll made good on his promise to play his three, Super Bowl-veteran linebackers more this season. All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner played every one of the 77 defensive snaps against Cincinnati. Outside linebacker K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks each played 69 snaps.

How’d that work out for Seattle?

The Seahawks took away Cincinnati’s running game by using their 4-3 base defense more. The Bengals gained just 34 yards on 14 carries.

But Andy Dalton passed for 418 yards, as Cincinnati decided quick passes were a better idea than running against Seattle’s base 4-3. John Ross had 158 yards receiving with two touchdowns. And the Bengals out-gained Seattle 429-233.

Frankly, the Seahawks were lucky to win, especially on defense.

“It worked out in that they didn’t run the football at all with their extra receivers in the game. We really played the run game really well, which is what we were hoping to do,” Carroll said. “They were satisfied with throwing it and they did a nice job of that.

“We need to play a little bit better on the back end on a couple explosives and we would’ve had a pretty solid game. They did a really nice job though. They had a couple really nice design things and they came through and executed well.”

Pittsburgh fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter at New England and just stopped running. The Steelers had 10 rushes in the first half and only three after halftime. They finished with 32 yards on the ground, absolutely not the way Pittsburgh has won games, divisions and championships under coach Mike Tomlin and in their storied history.

Expect re-establishing running back James Conner and their running game to be a focal point for the Steelers this week.

Then again, Roethlisberger owns the record for most yards passing in a game against the Seahawks: 456 in November 2015, at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won that wild game 39-30.

SIMEON THOMAS LEAVES

Washington signed cornerback Simeon Thomas off the Seahawks’ practice squad onto their 53-man active roster on Tuesday.

Thomas, a long (35-inch arms), 6-foot-3 converted safety, joined the Seahawks from Cleveland before the 2018 season. He spent last year on Seattle’s practice squad. He was a sixth-round pick by the Browns last year.

All teams can sign players off any other team’s 10-man practice squad provided the contract is to go directly onto the acquiring team’s active, 53-man roster.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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