RENTON -- It may only be the second day of training camp, but Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed is already tired of hearing about the guys who aren't with the team.
Whether it's players with other teams like Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman, players no longer capable of playing due to injury like Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor, or a player holding out in a contract dispute like Earl Thomas, Reed wants the focus to be on the players the team still has in camp and what those pieces can bring to the table.
"I got much respect for those guys but I feel like we got to focus on us," Reed said. "Too many people are worried about them being gone. We got the team here right now that's going to go out there and battle with us on Sundays. I'm honestly tired of hearing it. We got guys right here and they can do the same thing and I just want everybody to believe in us."
It's inevitable with five former Pro Bowl defensive players not in camp that there would be questions about how the defense is going to compensate for the loss of a group of players that were largely responsible for the team's success over the last half-decade. But except for Thomas potentially ending his hold out, those players aren't coming to save the day. It's the group led by Reed, defensive end Frank Clark, linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, and defensive backs Bradley McDougald, Byron Maxwell and Shaquill Griffin that will have to carry the load in their absence.
Reed believes the group is plenty talented enough to get the job done.
"We've got some good guys here," Reed said. "A lot of people right now, I feel like, just sleeping on us and don't think we can do it, but I got plenty of faith in my guys. We work our ass off so we're just ready to show the world."
The defensive line - particularly at the end position - is one area of primary concern given the departures of Avril and Bennett this offseason. Dion Jordan is set to miss a couple of weeks of camp as he recovers from an injury that popped up recently. Clark has yet to take part in team drills as he heals from surgeries to fix hand/wrist injuries that carried over from last season.
Without Avril, Bennett, Clark and Jordan able to take part in team periods of practice, it's left a group of young and unproven options in their place. Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson and rookies Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin have been getting the primary run at end with Clark and Jordan still sidelined.
The tackle spot is far more proven. Reed and Nazair Jones each appear poised to make significant strides this season. Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen provide veteran depth with a wealth of experience as well.
However, the defensive line group is still relatively young as as an unit and are being asked to play pivotal roles this season.
"They realize it’s their chance to really have to take over and they have done everything they can to put their best foot forward and make sure that they get that done," head coach Pete Carroll said.
Clark becomes the most senior member of the group at end. The former second-round pick will draw more attention than ever before along the line of scrimmage.
"It's something I'm fully ready for," Clark said. "I've been preparing for stuff like this my whole life. I came in, always had the mindset of a starter. I never sat back and thought I'm a second-string guy, I'm a guy behind these guys even though it's how it looked. I always played with the mindset of being a starter and that's how I want to compete this year."
Previously, Clark was the third man in line as a pass rusher behind Bennett and Avril. Now Clark will be the primary pass rushing threat opposing teams will have to scheme against. It gives Clark more opportunities to have an impact on games. It also means opponents will slide protection his direction and send more double teams his way in hopes of keeping him from getting to their quarterbacks.
"At the end of the day, they can slide whoever they want to me. I'm going to somehow find a way to get to the quarterback. It's just in my DNA," Clark said.
Clark said his goals for the season are to win the NFC West and lead the league in sacks.
"It’s a very competitive group. It looks like a group that’s going to be a great rotation for us and they’re feeling it. They’re feeling the opportunity, really. It’s accelerated all of their work throughout the offseason and they feel it in camp, too."
Photo Credit: Seattle Seahawks DE Frank Clark in the huddle with his fellow defensive linemen on the second day of training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)