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Cable says better pass protection is a 'big emphasis'

By Brady Henderson

The Seahawks improved their pass protection considerably during the second half of last season, allowing one sack less per game over the final eight games.

That's one way look at it.

Seattle still allowed 50 sacks in all, the fourth most in the NFL. Sounds like that number, despite the improvement, still irks offensive line coach Tom Cable.

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The Seahawks allowed 50 sacks in 2011, the fourth most in the NFL. (AP)
"I'm personally disappointed in how we protected the quarterback, and we've made that a big emphasis to clean it up," Cable said last week when his conversation with "Bob and Groz" shifted to the Seahawks' struggles in pass protection in 2011.

The Seahawks had to figure their offensive line would experience early growing pains while breaking in two rookies without the benefit of an offseason. Did it ever. The Seahawks allowed 29 sacks over the first eight games. For a comparison, seven teams didn't allow that many sacks all season.

Not every sack is the direct result of lousy pass protection, of course. Tarvaris Jackson had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. Seattle had some difficult matchups last season, facing six pass-rushers who finished among the top seven in sacks.

But pass protection was an undeniable issue for the Seahawks, one that Cable attributes to players not always understanding their responsibilities.

"It starts with the system and everybody understanding it," he said. "When to redirect, when not to, how to spot the box and all those things that go on in the middle of the play -- and getting everybody on the same page because so many of our sacks last year were that problem, not being on the same page."

Along with the 50 sacks, the Seahawks allowed 113 quarterback hits, according to stats from ESPN.com. According to Cable, the ratio of hits to sacks is typically 2-1.

"If you knock 20 sacks off your quarterback that like," he said, throwing out the number as if it represented realistic improvement, "you're talking about 60 times he gets hit less. So that's a big deal for us and for me personally is to clean that up."

Note: The injury updates Cable provided matched up with those coach Pete Carroll has been giving: right guard John Moffitt (knee) and left tackle Russell Okung (pectoral) appear to be on track to be ready by the beginning of the season, while right tackle James Carpenter (knee) likely won't be.

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