In week six's edition of Know Thy Enemy, we talked about Matt Hasselbeck being the player to watch. He remains a player to watch at all times in this game, but there are other players that you need to know about too. There are several players that standout but none more than defensive end Patrick Kerney. He has had injury filled seasons since becoming a Seahawk, but that doesn't negate the fact that when he is on the field, he is a beast.
Kerney started his path to the NFL by going to the University of Virginia where he would play on the Lacrosse team( was originally recruited for this), and a defensive end on the football team. Kerney wasn't considered to be a great football player when going to Virginia, as they wanted his services mainly for the lacrosse team. He would only accept the scholarship they were offering him for lacrosse if they gave him a shot at making the football team. Ultimately they would agree and Kerney would make the football team, but would have to work very hard to become a starter. It would show in his freshman and sophomore seasons, as he would total just one sack. Things would change his junior year.
Kerney's first two season were spent more on the lacrosse team. Although Kerney would miss spring practices during that span, the lacrosse team made the playoffs two years in a row. After those seasons he focused more on football, which would later show his junior year. During that year, Kerney sacked eight quarterbacks and totaled 45 tackles. This would be Kerney's coming out party of sorts as his senior year would be prolific.
Kerney followed up a very solid junior year with 15 sacks and 62 tackles, with 21 for a loss. This would help his team reach a 9-3 record and reach the Peach Bowl. Even though they would lose that game, to Georgia, they would finish 18th in the overall rankings. That season brought many honors to Kerney as well as being named first-team All-American and would get All-ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) honors. This would lead to Kerney eventually being drafted in the NFL.
In the 1999 draft Kerney was drafted 30th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. There was much hype surrounding him but he would fail to live up to it early on. In his first 2 seasons, he played all 32 games but registered just 5 sacks. Those aren't great numbers for a 1st round pick, but that would change in his third season. That year he had 12 sacks and 49 total tackles, which was considered his breakout season in the NFL. After that season, he would rack up 41 total sacks over the next 5 seasons, and would have had more if not for tearing his pectoral muscle his final season with Atlanta.
After his final season with Atlanta in which he opted out of his contract, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks. This was unfavorable for the Arizona Cardinals, as Kerney had a knack for getting to the quarterback. In three games played, he's racked up five sacks against Kurt Warner, while forcing one fumble. He could have had more if he had played in either game during the 2008 season. Part of the reason he has been so successful at getting to the quarterback is because of the Cardinals offensive tackle Levi Brown. Brown has struggled against Kerney giving up most, if not all, of the sacks. That will be one of the key match ups in this game. Levi Brown will need to protect Warner better in this game and keep Kerney at bay - otherwise, this could be a long game. Do you think Brown can contain Kerney in this game? Or does he allow Kerney to get to Warner?