Overview: Baraka Atkins played in nine games, starting zero. He had two sacks, two tackles for a loss and 18 total tackles. It was his second season in the league. He is signed through 2010.
What went right: Atkins didn't play until Patrick Kerney was lost to injury, but he stepped in and immediately stepped up. In his first game against Philadelphia, Atkins held against the run, shed a tight end, tackled Brian Westbrook twice after one yard and once for a loss of one yard, and got a hit on Donovan McNabb. He had another tackle for a loss and another quarterback hit against the Cowboys, and then exploded against the Patriots. He got two quick pressures in the first, assisted on a forced fumble and then earned a couple sacks. Not cheapy sacks like Lawrence Jackson got against San Francisco, but beat his man and broke to the quarterback sacks.
Quintessential game: Patriots at Seahawks
Blade Fury: Atkins was really active, cutting across and laying a shoulder after Josh Wilson sent Lamont Jordan airborne (the two forcing a fumble), coming down hard behind the line and tackling Sammy Morris after two, and, for his first sack, hand fighting Matt Light into a stick-`em-up pose before disengaging and wrapping Matt Cassell. Actually, if you take your eyes away from the misdirection (Cassell did), you can see it right here:
What went wrong: That about ended Atkins' brief run of success. Maybe opponents adjusted, or maybe he matched particularly well against Matt Light, or maybe that was Atkins big moment, the moment he peaked, and the particular set of internal and external conditions that created it can never fully be known, but after week 14, Atkins was very much again as he had been before: a talented but unaccomplished player noteworthy only to the hardcore.
Outlook: Sleep-deprived revery aside, Atkins is cheap, young, athletic, capable against the pass and run, and if 2008 be any indication, developing. The big addition in 2008 was better snap anticipation and that led to a better first step. He has a good bull rush and is active if not yet skilled with his hand-fighting. He's strong enough to hold the edge and has a lean, muscular frame to grow into. His potential is as it's ever been: very good, but 2008 proved his floor isn't so low anymore. He looks destined to be at least a part-time contributor, good depth in case of injury and a possible starter that won't kill you if it comes to that. Atkins turns 25 this September. In spring of 2011, Seattle should know what kind of player he is.