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Seahawks LB Heath Farwell: Special Teams Ace

The Seahawks didn't waste any time on the first day of free agency back in March, making waves by re-signing one of their core defensive players in Red Bryant. Flying under the radar in the news and in stories that day was the fact that the Seahawks also had re-signed special teams standout Heath Farwell, a seventh-year linebacker out of San Diego State.

A month and a half later, the NFL Draft came and went with the Seahawks adding a couple more linebackers - a 2nd and 5th rounder - in Bobby Wagner and Korey Toomer. Leroy Hill was re-signed and suddenly the situation at that position seemed a little clearer and we analysts and writers began to formulate our predictions for the Seahawks final 53-man roster. But, one thing I need to keep reminding myself of is to not forget Heath Farwell.

Farwell, despite only playing in 11 games last season, amassed 21 tackles on special teams, tops in the NFL.

Football Outsiders does a great job of collecting and developing statistics, and featured Farwell recently in their 2011 Special Teams Tackles summation. In that, they noted Farwell "led all special teams players with 21 tackles in 2011. He also led in percent of team tackles, being in on 22 percent of all kickoff and punt returns against Seattle."

That's not all. Now, as FO notes, "of course, it isn't enough to just make the tackle on a return. You want to get downfield and tackle that return man before he has a chance to get his team great field position. That's where the Return Stop comes in." The Return Stop statistic is a metric designed to track the amount of times a coverage player makes it downfield to get a tackle (or assist) that stopped a return for less-than-average value, with the average value determined by FO.

Farwell, impressively, also led the NFL in this category. "Farwell and [Atlanta's Akeem] Dent also led the league with 16 Return Stops each last year. In fact, no other player had more than 13."

Seattle takes their special teams very seriously and often keep one to three specialists around solely for their prowess in the return game. It wouldn't surprise me to see Farwell again on the final-53 and playing a big role for the Seahawks in 2012.

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