If O’Brien Schofield remembers correctly – and the linebacker is pretty sure that he does – he came out of training camp and the preseason with exactly one mental error.
For a guy swimming mentally in coordinator Ray Horton’s defense this time last year, it was welcome progress, and necessary for a team who needs productive play at outside linebacker.
“I don’t ever have to worry about what I am doing,” Schofield said. “I can help other guys and it makes you feel good.”
Horton called Schofield his most mentally improved player.
“He’s a microcosm of our defense,” Horton said. “Last year he struggled to learn it. This year he might have been my best player mentally, which shows you the growth you can make if you apply yourself. He’s been phenomenal.”
Schofield had 4½ sacks last season coming off the bench. He’s a starter on the left side now, across from
Schofield has been limited the second half of preseason because of some swelling with his knee, but he will play Sunday barring something unforeseen, he said. The knee issue came from the pounding of training camp, and he said he actually benefited from sitting and watching the defense from the side and analyzing it that way.
Horton said Schofield and the rest of the defense is in a much better spot than early in the preseason.
“I think the extra preseason game really helped us,” Horton said, “and this was really one of our best weeks of practice we have had in a long time.”
BEANIE ADDED TO INJURY REPORT
For the Seahawks, running back Marshawn Lynch (back) was limited for another day and is questionable for Sunday. Starting tackle James Carpenter (knee) is out, as is wide receiver Golden Tate (knee) and defensive end Greg Struggs (hamstring). Cornerback Byron Maxwell (shoulder) is listed as doubtful.
A QUICKER START
Playing the first three quarters of games last year, Skelton had a passing rating of 54.8 with 1,078 yards, five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In fourth quarters and overtimes, Skelton had a passing rating of 96.5 with 835 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Whisenhunt said the whole team just needs to work on being smarter early in games. He pointed to the Tennessee game when the Cards’ defense played well early and then Skelton tried to force a throw into coverage. The ball was intercepted and the Cards were on their heels when they didn’t need to be, as opposed to playing for some field position and putting the defense in better positions.
“When you talk about starting a game off better, it’s minimizing your mistakes,” Whisenhunt said. “You take your shots when you have them, but they have to be educated shots. Those are the things that will allow you to start faster.
“When you say start faster, I’m not talking about, ‘OK, we’re going to get 250 yards offense in the first quarter.’ I’m talking about getting some first downs, moving the ball, establishing the field position battle, which is so critical, and then getting the opportunity to take your shots down the field.”