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How To Know Marcus Tubbs Is Healthy

With a healthy Marcus Tubbs, Seattle has probably the best overall defensive talent in the NFL. Without, they should be top ten, maybe top five. He's that good. So, his health is a paramount concern. There are three criteria I would like Tubbs to satisfy before I think he's healthy.

1.       He passes a physical. Duh, right? Tubbs tore his ACL with a textbook "stiff-legged landing". I've watched the play dozens of times now, and though my knowledge of the incident can never truly exceed informed speculation, I feel confident Tubbs was protecting his still weak left knee. It's not too surprising in retrospect. Tubbs was effectively healed from the procedure, and overconfidence in one's body is common among athletes. Tubbs wanted to play and even if some nagging part of him knew not to, he played.

I assume Tubbs failed his physical because either his right knee is still not fully functional, or because the team is simply being cautious with him. There's really no rush. Tubbs doesn't need to relearn the position, he just needs to be healthy enough to stay on the field.

2.       He plays like a functional, two-gap defensive tackle. In last seasons preseason, the announcers took time to praise Tubbs for a very routine play. Tubbs locked up the opposing center Matt Birk and forced him laterally towards the ball carrier. A defensive tackle does something like this on nearly every run play. The praise was dumb, really, and when Tubbs was later injured, ironic. See, in 2007, Tubbs, despite that spellbinding engagement with the opponent's offensive line, never played much like a functioning defensive tackle. It's telling that such a routine play was even noticed. Though line play is less conducive to statistics and is therefore not typically thought of as a "playmaking" position, defensive linemen do make plays. They influence rush lanes. They force double teams. They penetrate the offensive line and disrupt the ball carrier. It's mad-busy in that tumultuous half-yard where the offensive and defensive lines collide, but careful, repeated viewing finds meaning, order. I want to see Tubbs produce plays, on nearly every snap. Riding that offensive linemen was a play, not let's see him make plays on most snaps. Then he'll again look like a functioning defensive tackle.

3.       Do something incredible. The Tubbs we knew may forever be relegated to the past. Players aren't static. Even game to game, the qualities and abilities of a player change. Tubbs has undergone dramatic physiological changes since he last played in the regular season. So, it's not fair to expect Tubbs to take the field this September and be Marcus Tubbs circa 2005: an unstoppable, almost Cortez Kennedy-like hybrid rush/pass defensive tackle.

This preseason, Tubbs will get a shot to batter some scrubs. Namely, the Raiders/Bears second string offensive line. They're bad-bad, and if Tubbs it truly healthy - and I don't mean just able to take the field, I mean some derivative of the talent that was; 60%, 70% - he should be able to, if only for one play, kick ass, take names and leave a trail of bodies in his wake.

All that done and I'll feel pretty confident Tubbs will contribute this season.