The fourth preseason game is when each team gets one last long look at their young players and hopefuls who are trying to earn a roster spot. One such player was Benson Mayowa. At that time, he was wearing a Seahawks uniform. And it was the team across the ball that was most impressed.
So, when the Seahawks made their final roster cuts and Mayowa's name was among those cuts, the Raiders didn't hesitate to bring him right back to Oakland. Now he heads back to Seattle as a starter for the Raiders, ready to show he deserved the opportunity the Raiders are giving him.
"I'm just enjoying my opportunity, really," said Mayowa. "I spent the whole last year I think I played two or three games. I spent the rest of the season just sitting on the bench. When you're sitting down and you see that you can make those type of plays you just wanna get out there and play so when opportunity calls, you just gotta go out there and show what you can do."
While the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks saw enough potential in the undrafted pass rusher out of Idaho to put him on the roster as a rookie, he was buried on a loaded depth chart. And when it came time to make the final cuts, Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll, had to make a tough call.
"We think he's a really good, good prospect," Carroll said of Mayowa. "It's not surprising at all to us that he's playing good football. We just got stuck with some numbers and couldn't keep him. We have a high regard for him. He's a good ballplayer and he's young and learning and scrapping. It's cool to see him playing so well."
When he was signed by the Raiders, he also rode the pine a good percentage of the time behind big free agent signing, Lamarr Woodley. But two weeks ago Woodley was lost with a torn biceps tendon and the door was finally open for Mayowa to "show what [he] could do."
Since taking over the defensive end job from Woodley two weeks ago, Mayowa has very much shown that he belongs. He has had 5 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss in less than six quarters of play. He was also a major contributor in a fine defensive effort in Cleveland last week, including a play in which he chased a wide receiver 48 yards downfield for a touchdown saving tackle.
Most importantly, he showed he could play the run, which was an area the 6-3, 252-pound defensive end was supposed to be lacking.
"I just want to show that I belong," Mayowa added. "Run, pass, it doesn't really matter what down it is. They say I can't play the run so that's... I know I can pass rush, but for me to be on the field and get those reps, you gotta play the run so that's what I try to do."
The mere fact that he had made the Seahawks roster last season speaks volumes of the kind of potential he has. When he was waived by the Seahawks, they were no doubt hoping he would slip through waivers so they could add him to their practice squad. They didn't get that opportunity, because Mayowa is getting his in Oakland.
Now his journey comes full circle as he heads back to where his NFL career began, but this time as a starter for the opposition.