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O’Brien Schofield fitting in after first practice with Seahawks
Apparently, it does pay to be patient.
Pete Carroll admitted after Tuesday’s practice at the Seahawks training camp that he liked O’Brien Schofield enough coming out of the University of Wisconsin in 2010 that he planned to select the linebacker/rush-end in the NFL Draft.
“This is one of the guys we were going to try and get in the draft,” the Seahawks’ fourth-year coach said with a smile. “We had a place where we were going to pick him. Unfortunately for us he went before that.”
Three-plus years later, Carroll finally got his man when the Seahawks claimed Schofield after he was waived Friday by the team that did select him in the fourth round of that 2010 draft – the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks were awarded Schofield on Saturday and he arrived at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Sunday, but not in time to participate in practice. So his first practice with his new team came on Tuesday, when the Seahawks also were in full pads for the first time this camp.
“He’s a very good football player,” Carroll said. “We’ve watched him play. He played against us. He’s a very active, very versatile football player.
“We’re really excited to get him on our team. Unfortunately, it took us a couple of years to get him.”
Schofield got a couple handfuls of reps in team drills – first at strong-side linebacker and then at the Leo end position in the nickel defense. But the coaches liked what they saw from the 6-foot-3, 242-pounder.
“First, he looked the part – he’s big, he’s got muscles. He’s got that look about him,” linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said after yet another sun-drenched practice along the shores of Lake Washington.
“Watching his film, he’s explosive, fast and he’s very aggressive.”
It’s the same traits that first attracted the Seahawks. The same traits he displayed while starting the first nine games for the Cardinals last season – which included a five-tackle effort in Arizona’s season-opening victory over the Seahawks – before needing surgery to repair ligament damage in his left ankle.
But Norton also was impressed with Schofield’s desire to fit in as quickly as possible.
“He learned a few plays on the first day. He stayed up all night doing his studying,” Norton said. “He’s fitting in with the guys pretty well.
“Day 1, first impression, I think he’s going to fit in very well.”
Where he fits remains to be seen, but Schofield does fit that mold of a player who can lineup either at strong-side linebacker or Leo end – like Bruce Irvin, who led all NFL rookies with eight sacks after being the Seahawks’ first-round draft choice last year; and Cliff Avril, who was signed in free agency after producing 29 sacks the past three seasons for the Detroit Lions.
“You’ve got to have versatility to play with us,” Norton said. “You’ve got to be able to run, hit and be you’ve got to be really smart. And you have to have the ability to play different positions.”
Schofield said he is willing to play wherever needed, but he didn’t hesitate when asked what he does best.
“Absolutely getting after the passer,” he said. “Pass-rusher, first. But the drops aren’t as complicated as I had to do in the past, so that’s even better. They’ve really made it simple for the guys that they believe are rushers just to have simple drops, not think and be able to play fast.”
Still, Day 1 was difficult. “I think today was kind of like Spanish, learning all the new calls and new language,” he said, able to punctuate the statement with a laugh. “But from a concept standpoint, the coaches did a great job putting me in and really coaching me up throughout the play. So I really appreciate that.”
It’s also nice to be appreciated for Schofield, who is somewhat befuddled over why he is in this bilingual situation.
“It was a rough process,” Schofield said of going from starter, to injured, to waived. “I definitely didn’t think that something like that would happen to me. But the fact that it did and I get picked up as soon as I did by a division rival, it makes me happy that I get to see Arizona two times a year.”