Shaquill Griffin quickly earns respect in Seahawks' Legion of Boom

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RENTON, Wash. -- Richard Sherman was about to pay Shaquill Griffin the highest compliment he could last week when he stopped himself mid-sentence and thought better of it.

"If you could create a rookie and give him everything and -- I’m probably giving him way too much credit because you don't never give rookies credit," Sherman said with a laugh. "Never mind, never mind."

What Sherman eventually said about Griffin echoed how Seattle Seahawks teammates and coaches have described the cornerback since the team drafted him in the third round out of Central Florida. The one thing that they've all mentioned, without fail, is his poise beyond his years.

"He is just poised out there," Sherman said. "They catch a ball on him and he isn’t turning [with] his eyes wide, shocked, confused, frustrated. He just turns around next play, bang, goes out there and steps and kicks and gets back to technique and that's pretty much all you can ask for a rookie. I have not seen very many rookies in my time in the league that poised.”

That poise was put to the test under most difficult circumstances in Seattle's season opener. Griffin was making his NFL debut against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, which is hard enough. It got even harder when Jeremy Lane was ejected in the first quarter. Griffin was supposed to be Seattle's third cornerback, only playing in nickel situations, but Lane's absence forced him into an every-down role.

Not what you'd call a soft landing. It was more like a baptism by fire, but Griffin more than held his own while in Rodgers' crosshairs for much of the game.

"He balled out," free safety Earl Thomas said. "I've been saying it all along: He doesn't play like a rookie; the moment's not too big for him. He stood up and he's always going to give me some [opportunities] to get picks because I know they're going to try him."

The unofficial results: Griffin was thrown at nine times and allowed six completions for 52 yards. He broke up two passes and was flagged for defensive holding. None of the completions against Griffin gained more than 13 yards, so he did the one thing that Seattle cornerbacks are mandated to do above all else, which is to not get beaten deep.

"He did a great job. He honestly played just like he's been playing. He'd been playing very consistent throughout the preseason and took it right to game time, which is really a marvelous thing to see for the coaches," coach Pete Carroll said. "He was able to maintain his mentality and his focus and stay disciplined and aggressive and he did all of that, and he got challenged, too. He had many opportunities there, so really pleased with his progress."

Griffin had already shown the Seahawks that he can stand up under fire, albeit with much less on the line. Once instance that coaches and teammates have cited is how he responded to being thrown at repeatedly during a stretch of Seattle's second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, which might have been unnerving for many rookie cornerbacks. Sherman recalls checking on Griffin, who told him, "Yep, I'm good."

"Nothing fazes him," wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.

Griffin made his NFL debut while his family in Florida hunkered down during Hurricane Irma. He said their home in St. Petersburg was spared from the worst of it. They lost power but didn't get flooded, and everyone remained safe.

Griffin's dad made sure of it.

"I remember the situation during the storm, he was telling me, 'At the end of the day, I would do whatever it takes to make sure my family is safe,' so he started coming up with plans before the storm came," Griffin recalled. "'If this happens, I'm going to do this' or 'if this happens, we'll take these steps to make sure every body is safe.' It's stuff that he planned for. He thinks about it before it happens. He told me, 'You can't panic in a situation like that.'

"I think that's where I get it from."

The Seahawks' knack for drafting and developing cornerbacks produced the likes of Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Lane and Walter Thurmond, who were all chosen between 2010 and 2012. The Seahawks have had more misses than hits at cornerback since then, but they appear to have found another good one in Griffin.

"I think that’s the awesome part about Shaq is that there hasn’t been a moment that’s been too big for him yet," defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. "If he’s doing it now and he’s just a puppy, imagine what he’s going to be like when he’s a big dog."