'Keep Stacking': Is Tariq Woolen Seahawks 'Freak' CB of the Future? – Sports Illustrated

Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen hasn't been in the league long and yet, he's already got a pair of nicknames. 
"Avatar" and "Riq the Freak."
Which one does he prefer?
"Shoot, I like 'Riq the Freak better'," Woolen said Thursday. "Everybody called me that from college, high school, they just called me Riq. That's one name that sticks with me but, shoot, as long as they say 'Avatar' that's a good thing cause it means they notice me and I'm doing something right."
The Seahawks sideline was likely filled with more cursing than cheering during the later stages Sunday's loss at the San Francisco 49ers, but given what Woolen did in the loss, the name Avatar was probably floating through the air.
It didn't take Woolen long to make the first impact play of his young career, as he blocked a 20-yard field-goal attempt from Niners kicker Robbie Gould before acting as the convoy for cornerback Mike Jackson into the end zone on the ensuing 86-yard touchdown return. 
If not for Woolen's outstretched arms and 6-4, 210-pound frame flying in for the block, the Seahawks likely would've been shutout it what turned out to be an abysmal 27-7 loss. 
Both on the scoreboard and in the highlight reel, he was clearly the star and showed what he's capable of doing on any given snap. 
But remaining humble and open to improvement is something this rookie knows is a continuous step in the process. Still, a pat on the back is necessary at times. 
"I feel (the first two games) went pretty smooth," Woolen said. "There's still a lot of things I can work on, but I haven't really gave up any deep shots or touchdowns and that's one thing I try to implement in my game, not giving up no deep balls. I just feel like I been doing good and I just gotta keep stacking." 
This laser-focused attention on not allowing the big play has shown up when taking a deeper look at the numbers, something we've already covered here at SeahawksSI.com. 
Woolen played 34 coverage snaps in a 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 1, allowing zero catches on three targets and a 39.6 passer rating. He also had one pass defense.
Through the first two weeks combined – which have also seen him totaled four solo tackles – Woolen has allowed three catches for 37 yards on seven targets, translating to a 58.3 passer rating allowed. 
The primary focus is obviously on pass coverage, but the field-goal block was something he admitted he saw coming. 
"That's a whole timing thing and just me having speed and length helped out a lot," Woolen said of the block. "At practice whenever we did go over field-goal block, I found myself being close and close whenever we would practice it … I was close a couple times (earlier in the game)."
Woolen is about to have his hands full in the secondary and on special teams in Sunday's matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. 
Along with a potential matchup against talented rookie receiver Drake London, Woolen could be in for another chance at blocking a field goal against Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo, who's seven field-goal attempts had put him in a three-way tie for most in the NFL through two weeks of action. Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell claimed the top spot during Thursday night's loss to the Cleveland Browns. 
The Seahawks (1-1) and Falcons (0-2) will kick off from Lumen Field on Sunday at 1:25 p.m. P.T., giving Woolen another chance at a big play against an Atlanta team that is desperate for its first win after two straight weeks of heartbreak. 
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
Want the latest in breaking news and insider information on the Seahawks? Click Here to subscribe to AllSeahawks.com's Newsletter.
Follow All Seahawks.com on Twitter and Facebook
Make sure to subscribe to our daily podcast @lockedonseahawks today! Click here To Listen.


Leave a Comment