SEATTLE — The rise of Benson Mayowa is startling because of the depth from where he started.
When asked in May to single out anyone impressive from Seattle’s rookie minicamp, coach Pete Carroll called to mind one player, if not that player’s name. “That kid from Idaho,” he responded.
That Carroll didn’t know Mayowa’s name then isn’t surprising; the volume of turnover combined with the sheer number of NFL rosters in the offseason can be overwhelming. But it does illustrate how far Mayowa had to climb to reach this point: Starting at defensive end in the second exhibition game Saturday against the Denver Broncos.
Or, as Carroll summed up his progression not long ago, “Well, I know his name now.”
Mayowa’s start against Denver does, however, comes with an asterisk. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril were out again because of injuries, depleting Seattle’s depth. But Mayowa didn’t start the first game against San Diego and was a guy the Seahawks wanted to see against better competition.
The results were mixed.
Mayowa struggled against Denver’s first-team offense. He generated little pressure when Peyton Manning was in the game. In the run game, he was exposed some as Denver’s line pushed back his 252-pound body.
“I don’t feel like I played my best game,” Mayowa said. “I feel like I could have affected the quarterback a little bit more, but that’s going to come with more wisdom and more technique.”
He put his battle with Denver’s left tackle in different terms later on: “I won some, and he won some.”
Mayowa said he could tell the difference between facing the first team and playing against the second- and third-teamers. He also admitted nerves probably got the best of him early because he was too excited.
He fared much better once Manning and much of the first team exited. Mayowa used his speed to slip around Denver’s tackle and wrap up the feet of quarterback Brock Osweiler as he was trying to get rid of the ball for a sack.
Mayowa has 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries in two exhibition games.
“You ask me what I’m looking for,” Carroll said, “I’m looking for consistency from guys that made plays in the first game and can they come back and do it again? And he did it.”
Earlier in training camp, Carroll said the Seahawks liked what they’d seen from Mayowa. “He’s shown an unusual knack for rushing the passer,” he said then. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin described Mayowa as “unblockable.”
But Carroll added a caveat: The Seahawks needed to judge Mayowa in live situations to see if his unusual knack for pass rushing played out in games.
Mayowa has been able to produce results so far. His future with the Seahawks still is uncertain, but he has gone from a nameless player to one whose name is now in the conversation to stick around.
“That’s what I’m here for,” Mayowa said. “I’m here to get to the quarterback. As long as I keep doing that, the longer I’m going to stay.”