Bruce Irvin growing into trusted every down linebacker for Seahawks

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RENTON, Washington — Asked about his 35-yard interception return for a touchdown off Oakland Raiders quarterback David Carr, linebacker Bruce Irvin shook his head and smiled.

"Man, I should stop making plays so you guys won't want to talk to me," Irvin said.

Fortunately for Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, Irvin has been making plays on a regular basis.

The former first-round draft pick has started to blossom in his third season with the Seahawks. Irvin is no longer just the situational pass rusher he was as a rookie. He's developed into a well-rounded linebacker that can play on an every down basis.

"It's my third year. It's time to turn the corner," Irvin said. "I feel like (the game) is really slowing down to me and I feel like the stuff I'm doing now is what they drafted me to do."

Irvin has seen his playing time increase nearly every week this season. After being used on just 19 defensive snaps in Seattle's season-opening victory over Green Bay, Irvin has been on the field for 80 percent of Seattle's defensive snaps in the Seahawks past three games.

"I don't have much choice when I'm out there. That's the coaches so I guess they see something in me that they've seen all along when I was a surprise pick in 2012," Irvin said. "I guess they seen something in me and now it's finally coming out."

Irvin was a key piece for Seattle's run defense as the Seahawks shut down Alfred Morris and the Washington Redskins in Week 5. Washington managed just 32 yards rushing against Seattle with Irvin's play setting the edge of the defense proving to be critical. Irvin sacked Cam Newton on consecutive plays two weeks ago to help the Seahawks slide by the Carolina Panthers with a 13-9 victory to break a two-game losing streak. Irvin then had the pick-6 against the Raiders last week.

"He's really improved over the last month in terms of his mindset to keep working and keep getting better. It really jumped out to us," defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "He's such a unique guy for us so we're going to try and feature him the best way we can."

In his first two seasons, Irvin only had one game — last year at St. Louis — where he played at least 80 percent of Seattle's defensive snaps in a game.

"Last week was a great showing for him. He played really well anyway, but then he makes the big sacks at the end of the game," Carroll said. "And that's an enormous play for us to see. And then to finish it and put in the end zone, too, that was great. It's great to see him having the impact.

"I know his confidence has to be flying and he's ready to just keep on going. It seems like he's just getting started."

Notes: C Max Unger returned to full participation in practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a foot sprain in October. Unger has missed the past four games due to a foot sprain and did not practice Wednesday due to a personal matter. ... G James Carpenter (ankle), C Stephen Schilling (knee), S Kam Chancellor (groin), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), RB Marshawn Lynch (calf) and DE Michael Bennett (toe) did not participate in practice. ... T Russell Okung (calf), WR Doug Baldwin (groin) and CB Byron Maxwell were limited after missing Wednesday's practice. DT Jordan Hill (ankle) was also limited.


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