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Kevin Williams settling in with his new team

Posted Jun 17, 2014

Kevin Williams had other options in free agency, but the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle opted for the Seahawks because they met his checklist by having a quarterback, a good defense that has fun and providing the opportunity to win.


When Kevin Williams went looking for a new team in free agency, the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle prepared a checklist that included three criteria:

MINICAMP DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS

Defensive player of the day: Dion Bailey. The rookie free-agent safety crammed a practice’s worth of impressive plays into three consecutive snaps. On first-and-10, Bailey tipped a Tarvaris Jackson pass that was intended for tight end Anthony McCoy. On second-and-10, the former USC All-American held wide receiver Phil Bates to a 6-yard gain. On third-and-4, Bailey almost intercepted a pass that was intended for tight end Luke Willson.

Defensive play of the day: Second-year cornerback Tharold Simon, who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, displayed his closing speed and coverage skills by tipping away a Jackson pass as it was about to settle into the hands of wide receiver Ricardo Lockette near the goal line.

Offensive player of the day: Robert Turbin. With leading rusher Marshawn Lynch at practice, but watching because of a sore ankle, Turbin made the most of his continuing opportunities with the No. 1 offense. The third-year back broke a nice run on the right side in the first full-team drill and later had a 16-yarder. Turbin then turned a swing pass into a 15-yard gain.

Offensive play of the day: Touchdown catches are always nice, even in a minicamp practice, and fourth-round draft choice Kevin Norwood had an 11-yarder in a red-zone drill.

One: A team with a quarterback.

Two: A team that is having fun and doing great things on defense.

Three: A team that provides an opportunity to win.

Not surprisingly, that team proved to be the Seahawks, as Williams became the latest Minnesota Viking to make the jump to Seattle when he signed on Monday.

“I think these guys presented that,” Williams said Tuesday after participating in the first of the Seahawks’ three minicamp practice this week. “And obviously I’m here.”

Williams was smiling as he said that, and his responses were punctuated by one smile after another during a 5½-minute Q&A session.

And, coach Pete Carroll couldn’t be happier to be adding a player of Williams’ talents and versatility at this point in the offseason.

“We always have cherished the big guys,” Carroll said. “And there was a spot for Kevin. We talked to him for a really long time. We talked to him through the offseason with the thought of maybe getting this worked out.

“I have tremendous respect for the person that he is, the competitor that he is, the leader that he is. He’s a big man who plays tough. We want him to play good, physical football for us, like he always has. … He just brings a tremendous amount to our club, and so we’re excited about that.”

The two most obvious questions now that Williams is a member of the defending Super Bowl champions: How much does he have left at almost 34 and in his 12th NFL season? And just where does he fit in a tempo-setting defense that led the league in average points and yards allowed last season?

The long-term answers won’t be supplied for a while, but the short-term situation looked pretty good during Williams’ first practice with his new team. The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Williams lined up primarily at the three-technique spot and on a 15-yard swing pass to running back Robert Turbin, it was Williams who was in hot pursuit.

As Williams mentioned to nose tackle Brandon Mebane, “It’s just exciting to be back around football and see guys having fun.”

As for where Williams fits on a line that lost tackle Clinton McDonald in free agency and released starting ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons (who have signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars), Carroll envisions Williams being able to play the five-technique end spot as well as the three-technique tackle position in the base and nickel defenses. And do it all in the rotation that proved so successful last season.

That, of course, leads to another question: Can a player who played as much as Williams did with the Vikings be content with fewer snaps?

“We’ll see how it works,” Carroll said. “We don’t know right now. But we have a plan in mind that could work out. We’ll see how it comes together. He’s likely to be able to play quite a bit less and still be a big factor for us.”

No worries. When Williams was asked what he saw while playing against the Seahawks last season and in 2012, he offered, “Man, those guys got a nice rotation on defense.”

Everyone gathered around Williams laughed, but he wasn’t kidding. So a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s who has five All-Pro berths and 60 career sacks on his resume be happy working in a rotation?

“Absolutely,” Williams said. “I looked at some stats about a month ago. I had like 700 snaps last year and nobody on the defensive line here touched 650, I think. So I think it’s an awesome chance to get in and play a limited number of snaps and maximize the ability I have.”

Williams had other options in free agency. He also visited the New York Giants and New England Patriots, and has said the Patriots actually offered him more money than the Seahawks. The Vikings even re-entered the picture late in the process. But his choice was the Seahawks.

“I just think it’s the best fit for me,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just felt more comfortable here.”

Then there’s the quarterback that topped Williams’ free-agent wish list: Russell Wilson, who is 28-9 in two seasons as the starter.

Asked how annoying it is to chase the elusive Wilson around the field, Williams smiled again and said, “It’s real annoying. I’m glad to be on his side now.

“I told him when I got here, ‘At least I don’t have to chase you.’ And that little step-back wiggle, or whatever he was doing, it was always tough to get him.”

As it turned out, Wilson’s presence helped the Seahawks get Williams.

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