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Big steps in the right direction
Bigger. Faster. Stronger. Deeper. Younger. And hopefully better.
|MEET THE NEWEST SEAHAWKS|
Position: Wide receiver
Position: Defensive line
The Seahawks accomplished all of this Friday afternoon when general manager John Schneider announced a bevy of roster moves that have been percolating for most of the week.
One of the bigger items – literally – was the re-signing of free-agent defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, a 311-pounder who has been a starter the past four seasons. Mebane attracted attention from other teams, but decide to stay where he really wanted to be.
“That’s a cool thing,” Schneider said. “Being able to re-sign one of our own guys who was a hot commodity in free agency was huge for us. He wanted to stay here. We wanted him to stay here.”
But there was more. A lot more, as things really heated up on the second day of the team’s second training camp under coach Pete Carroll.
Schneider finally was able to announce the signings of four free agents who had agreed to terms earlier in the week: Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice, a quarterback and wide receiver who played for new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell with the Minnesota Vikings; Robert Gallery, a guard who is as tough as he is big (6-7, 325) and played for new line coach Tom Cable with the Oakland Raiders; and Alan Branch, a defensive lineman who is as versatile as he is big (6-6, 325) and played for the Arizona Cardinals.
In other moves, the club signed the last of its nine draft choices – third-round pick John Moffitt, who is expected to start at right guard; re-signed three more of its own free agents – linebacker Leroy Hill, fullback Michael Robinson and linebacker Matt McCoy; and added a rookie free-agent kicker – Wes Byrum, who participated in practice earlier in the day.
As they did with the NFL Draft in April, Schneider and Carroll entered the compressed free-agency period – which followed the 136-day lockout – with a no-panic plan. And then executed it.
“We have a great vision and it’s really fun to see it come to fruition,” Schneider said.
It definitely helped to have Bevell and Cable in the building when it came to recruiting Jackson, Rice and Gallery. With little time to evaluate free agents, and even less to try and sign them, the familiarity factor loomed large.
“Obviously we knew firsthand from Darrell about all the research we did on (Jackson’s) leadership skills, his football intelligence, his swagger and all that,” Schneider said. “We were very comfortable with him.”
It was the same thing with Rice. “Once we were able to come to an agreement with T-Jack, it helped us with Sidney, obviously, in terms of recruiting.”
Same song, different verse, when it came to Gallery. “In unrestricted free agency, it’s scary waters,” Schneider said. “But when you have coaches that have had their hands on the guys for a number of years and have confidence in the players and are willing to step out and tell you exactly how they feel about the guy and how they see the guy, it’s extremely important.”
Here’s Schneider’s assessment on each of the Big Four:
Jackson, who started 20 games in five seasons with the Vikings and will compete with Charlie Whitehurst for the starting job: “The most important position on the team. The quarterback and the head coach, in my opinion, are the most important people in the building. … When you watch him you will see the arm strength and the foot quickness and the movement skills and all that. He’s a very intriguing prospect at 26 years old.”
Rice, a 6-4, 202-pounder who will team with 6-5, 235-pound Mike Williams to give the Seahawks’ one of the biggest tandems – if not the biggest tandem – in the league: “Having witnessed him firsthand with how he can attack the ball, his catching range, his confidence and his size, he’s a young football player (24) who’s extremely talented. To be able to add a guy with size like that is a really good thing for us. Again, I think he’s going to add juice to our football team.”
Gallery, whose experience and style are exactly what the Seahawks’ inexperience line needs at the left guard spot: “He’s got himself to a level now where he’s a big mauler, he’s a tough guy, he’s a tone-setter and he’s been through some rough times. He’s overcome some things in his career that stand out and give you confidence that he can be a strong leader and a strong contributor on a young offensive line.”
Branch, who can help at defensive tackle as well as the five-technique end spot: “Alan is a big guy that can run. … He gets off the ball with good quickness. We targeted him as a younger guy (26) that still has a lot to prove as a productive defensive lineman, so we’re hoping he comes in here and is hungry to get things rolling.”
And rolling is what the Seahawks are planning on doing now that they’ve added the players who were signed Friday.
“We’re excited,” Schneider said.
Not to mention bigger, faster, strong, deeper, younger and, hopefully, better.