BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 11/13/2020

Thiel: Snacks & Sacks? Seahawks test 2 linemen

DE Snacks Harrison will be elevated from the practice squad Sunday. The O-line has a newbie too. Versus Aaron Donald, Kyle Fuller will start in place of injured C Ethan Pocic.

After a month on the practice squad, former All-Pro DT Snacks Harrison will get his shot Sunday in Loa Angeles. /

It appears the Seahawks will be introducing two linemen new to the lineup Sunday in Los Angeles against the Rams. It’s a good news/bad news deal, sort of a “Snacks & Sacks” Jeopardy! category (miss you, Alex Trebek).

The good news for Seahawks fans is that 6-3, 353-pound Damon “Snacks” Harrison will finally move into the defensive-line rotation after a month on the practice squad, which presumably involved the lifting of a lot celery sticks and free weights.

“There was a lot of things that I needed to work on,” he said Thursday, grinning a bit. “The being patient part of it was tough.”

The bad news was on offense, where Kyle Fuller will start at center, up against Rams tornado Aaron Donald. Coach Pete Carroll said Friday that season-long starter Ethan Pocic had a concussion Sunday against Buffalo but didn’t report symptoms until after the game. He didn’t practice all week.

That Fuller, 26, likely will start is no slight against him personally, it’s just . . . well, he’s had 12 special teams snaps this season. That’s it. And 145 scrimmage snaps over parts of four seasons with four NFL teams since he was a seventh-round pick of the Texans out of Baylor in 2017.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer looked into the Zoom camera, tilted his chin up a bit, and summoned the sorts of words Thursday that were required of every boxing manager who put his fighter in the ring with Mike Tyson in his prime.

“Kyle Fuller is a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in,” he said. “I thought he had an unbelievable training camp, probably one of the most improved players that we had. So if he has to go and answer the call, we don’t have any question he’ll play well.”

Sounds right and good, coach. What’s the plan?

“They’re trying to get Aaron in one-on-one matchups,” he said. “It’s a challenge for anybody blocking him, and and blocking this (D-line) group. But Kyle’s up to the challenge. If he has to go and play, then he has to play. He’s shown he can do it.

“You don’t block Aaron and that front with just one one guy. It takes all five guys working together.”

All true. Five guys should be enough. Probably. Maybe. Godspeed, Kyle Fuller.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage is a more amusing saga.

Harrison not only has been among the NFL’s best run stoppers for his eight-year career, his story is just as good.

He went unrecruited out of high school in Louisiana, ended up at an NAIA Division II school in Iowa (William Penn in Oskaloosa) and went undrafted out of the tiny Quaker college.

He signed as a free agent in 2012 with the New York Jets, where he became a starter in his second year. By 2016, his first year with the Giants, where he signed a five-year, $46 million contract, he was named first-team All-Pro.

Here’s what Pro Football Focus wrote about him in 2019:

In a season (2018) he spent split between the New York Giants and Detroit Lions, Harrison led all at his position in run-defense grade (93.8), total run stops (46) and run-stop percentage (15.97%). He also led all qualifying interior defensive linemen in the percentage of run-defense snaps played where he was the first to make contact with the ball carrier at 21.18%.

Harrison has led his position in total run stops and run-stop percentage for four consecutive seasons, and he’s been crowned as PFF’s Run Defender of the Year in each of the four years, as well . . .  an immovable force against double teams and will rarely lose one-on-one situations when opposing offenses make the mistake of putting a guard or center in such a position.

After signing a one-year, $11 million extension with Detroit for 2019, his production fell some and was not re-signed. His most recent game action was Dec. 29, when the Lions’ 3-12-1 season ended.

Because of Covid-19, Harrison, 32 on Nov. 29, was prepared to sit out the 2020 season, to protect his family. But as the NFL rolled out its health protocols, he decided to return because of size of his family — he has seven children, from age 12 to one-year-old twins and a five-month-old.

“Honestly, it was being in the home with my kids full-time during the season that kind of made me want to jump back out there a little bit,” he said, laughing. Eager for respite among large, mean men instead of rugrats, he was willing to take practice-squad money to play with a winner. His former Lions teammate, Seahawks FS Quandre Diggs, said he knew of a good one.

He signed with Seattle Oct. 7, and believe or not, moved his entire family from the Dallas area. He was quick to give his wife, Alexis, serious props for managing the feat.

“My wife, man, she’s a superstar, a real-life superhero,” he said. “I’m at work most of the day and to come home and (hear)  my wife talk about how tough her day has been  . . . my line of work, I’m like, OK, that’s not tough.

“I don’t know until I had to do it myself. Oh my goodness, man, that’s tougher than anything I’ve ever done in my life. Hats off to her. She’s the one that makes it happen. I got to give it all to her.”

It clearly made him appreciate his gig, even though Seattle fans pestered him on social media about when he would take the field. He explained himself on Twitter last week.

Because he was on the 16-member practice squad, he was available to other teams if they wanted to advance him to the 53-man squad. He reportedly received inquiries from Tampa Bay and Miami.

“Once the work became a little more than I had expected, I wasn’t going to run from it,” he said. “I felt like I was supposed to be here.  I’m not a guy that likes to move around much or change scenes a lot. So, really, once I got here and got settled in, it was a no-brainer to stay.’’

As for the nickname, one of the best in football, he long ago was over any pejorative. The coach who first signed him, Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, noticed his penchant for eating during meetings. Ryan started leaving Rice Krispies treats on the D-line’s meeting-room desk, and hung the nickname on him.

Damon or Snacks? “It don’t matter,” Harrison said, grinning.

If the offense can finally #LetRussCook, the defense can #LetSnacksEat. It isn’t as if the Seahawks defenders haven’t left a lot on the table.


  • Stephen Pitell

    I love that, one way or another, this team is full of people who want to be here, and love playing football. I know people are losing faith in our defense, as anyone would who is paying attention, I have decided to enjoy the ride regardless where it goes.

    I’m happy for Snacks, and hope Fuller is successful. Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      Enjoy the ride. Yes. Plenty of other stressors are available elsewhere in life.

  • 1coolguy

    Wow, 4 years as “run defender of the year”. It tells us he knows how to get it done, so let’s see what he has left. He appears to be an upgrade nonetheless, even in limited snaps.
    As to Godspeed to Fuller, I add Godspeed to RW! Yikes! This is the game for him to get hip throwing the ball out of bounds, if ever there was one.
    It reminds me of when we lost our center in high school. We were crushing teams with our passing and rushing, undefeated and #1 in state, when we lost our all-conference starting center to an appendicitis attack. His backup hadn’t played a snap and we tied in the conference championship, dropping to #2.
    The center position runs the O line and we can all hope Fuller is up to it.

    • art thiel

      Uh-oh. Friday night lights stories. Next will you catch the game-winning TD?

      Seahawks are in trouble with Fuller.

      • 1coolguy

        Haha – Promise, it really happened.
        Hopefully they can figure out a solution that keeps RW in one piece, regardless of outcome.

      • Ed Walsh

        Yes. Houstons game in Russells early years, almost rookie Center Justin Britt against JJ Watt. Russell ran. And ran. Sherman snagged a pick six, and Russell did the rest to pull the game out.

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  • jafabian

    Hawks haven’t had a solid run-stopper since Red Bryant left. Snacks is past his prime but is still desperately needed on this team. BSwag has to be looking forward to this.

    • art thiel

      Mebane was solid, but Snacks just standing there is hard to get around.

      • Ed Walsh

        Ditto, Art. Mebane speed, but Snacks is Rock of Gibralter, as long as he is functional, in the important 4th quarter, and not gassed.

  • Chris Alexander

    What’s the rule regarding putting a TE on either side of Fuller, just behind the line of scrimmage and letting Russ take every snap out of the shotgun? It’d be like their “max protect” offense, but with the TEs in a very specific position and assigned the “simple” task of “having Kyle’s back”.

    Could be a long, long day on offense.

    Starting to feel a bit better about the defense – even after last week’s debacle in Buffalo and despite the likelihood that both starting corners will miss the game. Probably naïve optimism, but I’m gonna roll with it.

    Think Seattle will pull out a close win on Sunday then come home a DESTROY the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football.

    Go Hawks!

    • 1coolguy

      Interesting idea – It could be done with the full house formation with 2 TE’s aside a RB in the middle. The QB drops back, the TE’s step up to block and the QB has the option to hand off to the RB or pass, where the RB blocks.
      Give RW time and he can find a receiver with the best of them.

      • art thiel

        Like I wrote above, the Rams could smother the receivers. But once or twice would surprise the D.

    • art thiel

      Two TEs blocking the gaps is a nice idea, but that guarantees double teams for Lockett and Metcalf.

      I agree that the defense will be better, because leaving a hurting Dunbar on the field was a bad idea, and Dunbar and Snacks will help.

      I still see the Rams winning 34-31.

  • Husky73

    Thanks for the salute to Alex Trebek….and a Rex Ryan shout-out too. I wonder if the Jets would take him back?

    • art thiel

      Trebek showed that game-show hosts actually can contribute to society instead of tearing it down.

      • Ed Walsh

        Well said, Mr. Thiel.

  • antirepug3

    “(miss you, Alex Trebek)”

    A show that set the bar high for programs of class. Thank you Mr Trebek.

    • art thiel

      A great story circulating on Twitter was after a contestant won, he saluted Trebek by telling him he learned English by watching Jeopardy, and was so grateful.

  • Steve Johnson

    Looking forward to seeing the impact Snacks has (or not) this Sunday. Go Hawks from up north in Vancouver, BC!

    • art thiel

      Even in his best days, he played only half the time, but still is a big upgrade.

      Down a six-pack of Kokanee in his honor.

  • Ed Walsh

    Great write, Art. Not much chance for Seahawks, except that Russell Wilson, the most experienced pressured QB in the league, will bedevil Mr. Donald, at least part of the time. Last game was 7-point failure by Seattle special teams., don’t expect that again, never mind the defense.We’ll see. Mr. Wilson,(if he survives), will decide this game, anong with Mr.Wagner, Tyler Locket, and DK.