- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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As if it wasn't a difficult enough task for Clemens to step into the starting lineup in place of Sam Bradford, Clemens gets the added bonus of taking on the Seattle Seahawks' second-ranked defense. Through seven weeks, the Seahawks are limiting opponents to 282.1 total yards per game. They're fifth in run defense and second in pass defense.
Seattle also has a knack for getting turnovers and its 19 is tied with Kansas City for first in the league.
It's a daunting task, to be sure, but Clemens at least has a sense of humor about it.
When told Seattle has the second-ranked defense in the league, Clemens offered a funny line in his usual dry manner.
“Well, that’s good," Clemens said. "It could be the first.”
Asked if he'd prefer to play a lesser opponent in his first start of the season, Clemens said he's unconcerned with who lines up across from him on Monday night.
“You know what, I’m excited for the opportunity," Clemens said. "I don’t care if they throw ... whoever -- I don’t know a local high school yet -- I don’t care who they throw out there. I’m excited for the opportunity and we’re going to have a good week of practice and be ready for Monday night.”
That's not to say that Clemens doesn't know what awaits Monday night. Clemens is a consummate professional and has spent plenty of time watching tape and doing all he can to prepare for the Seahawks.
Asked what challenges Seattle presents, Clemens offered a detailed scouting report.
“Every challenge you could think of," Clemens said. "They’re a good football team. They really are. They’re solid up front, the D-line. Obviously, they’ve got Chris Clemons coming off the edge, [Cliff] Avril when they want to bring him in. So, they’ve got a great pass rush. Linebackers are solid, good players, run to the ball.
"Then, the secondary’s going to be a great challenge for us, probably one of the better combinations of corners that we will face between [Richard] Sherman and [Brandon] Browner. Kam Chancellor is a great run-stopping safety. He’s good in coverage. He’s a safety in a D-end’s body. It’s not fair. It really isn’t. Then, Earl Thomas playing in the back, Pro Bowl guy. He plays the entire field. He really does. You’ve got to be aware of where he is because he’s got some Ed Reed tendencies where he just goes off feel. He’s very dangerous, great athlete. He’s good with the ball in his hands. There’s not a lot of chinks in that defensive armor.”
Which means Monday night is going to be a particularly tall order for the Rams. On the bright side, they do have plenty of familiarity with Seattle's vaunted defense.
The Seahawks finished fourth in the NFL in total defense in 2012, allowing 306.2 yards per game. Not that the Rams exactly dominated that group last year but they did manage to average 308.5 yards per outing against Seattle in the two meetings.
Obviously, without Bradford's services it will be that much more difficult this time around.