'An honor to play against a guy like that'

RENTON, Wash. -- Retired three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ken Norton Jr. faced newly enshrined Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk six times during their playing careers.

Faulk finished those games with 134, 126, 103, 83, 61 and 6 yards rushing. Faulk topped 200 total yards in one of those matchups. His teams went 5-1 in those games, including four times in 1999 and 2000, when Faulk's St. Louis Rams were peaking and Norton's San Francisco 49ers were caught in transition.

Norton, now linebackers coach for the Seattle Seahawks, offered thoughts on Faulk following practice Saturday:

"Really special guy. The fact that he could do so much, you never were sure what he was going to do. You knew he could run really well, he had really good patience behind the line of scrimmage and one-on-one, almost impossible to bring down. And he was always thinking. He was a thinking man. He would not put his head down and just go. He was thinking about what he was doing and he knew what I was thinking. It was really a challenge every time I played against him.

"His versatility, he was a running back when he was in the backfield and a wideout when he was not. He could run routes, he had great hands, he had great body movement and position, he could read the defensive coverages. He was like a coach on the field.

"I just remember him being on that turf, just really special. He had Barry Sanders in him, he had a little Marcus Allen in him, he had a little Emmitt Smith in him and then he had all that made him Marshall. He had some coach in him, too. He was just really a challenge and it was an honor to play against a guy like that."

Free agency and training camps have taken some of the spotlight away from Hall of Fame proceedings this year. It's been fun taking some time to appreciate one of the all-time greats.