SEATTLE -- One of the things that makes the the Seahawks successful is they know how to find players who were undervalued and underappreciated on other teams. They come to Seattle with something to prove.
You can now add a new name to that list. Defensive end O’Brien Schofield, who was the best defensive player on the field Friday in the 41-14 preseason victory over the Chargers, collecting a sack, a tackle for loss and four quarterback hits. One of those hits came when he pancaked Chargers quarterback Kellen Clemens.
“I have a chip on my shoulder after a crazy offseason,” Schofield said. “I’m just trying to show I can be a disruptive player and force as a pass rusher.”
Five months ago, Schofield was on top of the world after winning the Super Bowl with the Seahawks. He parlayed that into a 2-year, 8-million contract with the New York Giants, finally earning the respect he longed for during four NFL seasons.
But the Giants pulled the plug on the deal a few days later when Schofield failed his physical. In the team’s view, tests revealed an arthritic situation in one of his knees from a previous injury.
Schofield was stunned. He knew nothing about it, and the problem had not impacted his play. But he went from an $8 million man to a free agent looking for a job.
The Seahawks offered him a chance to come back, but he would have to earn his spot against stiff competition. He is fighting for a roster spot in what looks like a head-to-head battle with second-year player Benson Mayowa, who also has a sack Friday night.
Schofield, however, took a big step forward Friday in a game where it seemed he constantly was in the Chargers backfield.
“He was all over the place,” Pete Carroll said of Schofield. “He’s competing his tail off to make this football team and make his mark here. It showed up last week [at Denver] and again this week. He’s doing it every day in practice, so I’m really fired up for him.”
Schofield (6-3, 260) is playing with fire these days for a lot of reasons. At age 27, he thought he had secured the future for his young family in the deal with the Giants.
Schofield’s wife and two little boys often were at training camp. Schofield quickly would walk over to his boys and scoop them up with a big smile on his face after practice each day.
“Things are a lot different now,” Schofield said. “I’m in my fifth year, I have a family, and I’m hungry. So I’m looking to really take this league by storm.”
Motivation comes in many forms. For Schofield, maybe he wants to prove something to the Giants. Maybe he wants to reward the Seahawks for giving him another chance. Maybe he just wants to make his little boys proud.
It could be all of the above. Whatever it is, Schofield is playing football with a relentless style and with something to prove.
“I’m just playing as hard as I can,” Schofield said. “I want to show my teammates and the coaches that anytime I’m out there on the field, I’m going to give a 100 percent effort. I love the game so much, so it’s the least I can do.”