By Brady Henderson
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Russell Okung entered the NFL in a somewhat tough spot, drafted sixth overall by the team whose legendary left tackle had just retired.
"Talk about some shoes to fill," Okung said Thursday when asked about coming to Seattle just as Walter Jones was calling it a career after 12 seasons with the Seahawks. "Definitely a hall of famer, and you're coming in expected to be just like him. He did great for Seattle the years he played, and he'll go down as one of the best."
Russell Okung said he learned from Seahawks legend Walter Jones to concentrate on what he does, not his opponent. (AP)
Jones is one of 15 modern-era finalists who will learn Saturday whether they'll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2014. It's hard to imagine Jones not being among them. He made nine Pro Bowls and was a four-time First-Team All-Pro. At the peak of his career, some in football considered him to be the best player – regardless of position – in the game.
Big shoes, indeed.
And while Jones has seemed to keep his distance from Okung – perhaps not wanting Okung to have to live in his shadow – he has offered advice: make it about you and not your opponent.
"It's about your preparation and it's about what you do best," Okung said. "And when you keep those things in perspective you don't worry about the external things. You don't worry about what a guy is going to try to do to you. You worry more about what you're going to do to him. And having that type of confidence definitely brings the best out of you."
Okung said the lessons he's learned from Jones are about his approach to the game as opposed to technique.
"I believe we all have our own skill sets and out own types of game," Okung said, "and he just told me to try to be the best me, and that was the best I can do."
"One of the greatest things he told me," Okung recalled Monday, "is he told me sacks are overrated."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.