A recap of the day’s activities at the Seahawks’ OTA session:
Leroy Hill. The weak-side linebacker rejoined the team on Monday and participated in his first practice of the offseason today.
“It’s good to get Leroy back,” coach Pete Carroll said after the 97-minute practice. “He went through a long process. He visited with the commissioner. We’re comfortable with what we know right now. There’s still stuff coming.”
Including a court date later this month that prompted the club to tell Hill to stay away from team activities while he dealt with the issue – which also led to Hill’s recent meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Hill’s legal issues and status with the league remain unresolved, Carroll said, but getting him back on the practice field was a needed step.
“At this point, we’re comfortable with getting him back here and getting him to work and start him learning what we’re all about football-wise,” Carroll said.
For a first step, it was a good one – for Hill, and his teammates.
“I’m super happy,” Hill said. “I missed my teammates. I missed playing football the whole time. I’m happy to be back.”
Offered fellow linebacker Lofa Tatupu, “Good to see him. Good to have him back. He’s got to knock some rust off, but he looked good today.”
Despite Hill’s return and Tatupu being given the day off, the No. 1 linebacking crew included David Hawthorne at middle linebacker for Tatupu, Will Herring at the weak-side spot that Hawthorne has been filling in Hill’s absence and Aaron Curry on the strong side.
Hill worked in the No. 2 unit with middle linebacker Matt McCoy and Anthony Heygood.
Carroll stopped short of saying he expected to have Hill for all 16 games this season.
“We’ll have to wait and see on that,” he said. “I don’t know that. I don’t know how that’s going to go.”
But the club does know enough that it felt this was the time to bring Hill back.
“The (league) hasn’t come to any final conclusion yet, either,” Carroll said. “But they did give us enough information that we know how to progress from here. Leroy wants to be part of this thing and he’s ready to get going. In the meantime, we’re going to bring him back as fast as we can and then we’ll just take it one day at a time when it gets to some further rulings.”
WELCOME BACK, PART 2
In addition to Hill, wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh (sports hernia) and Deion Branch (knee) got in some limited work for the first time since having surgeries in April.
“This was an exciting day for us, to see T.J. get back on the field and Deion get back on the field and catch some balls,” Carroll said. “It’s been a long time since they’ve been out. With the rehab there’s the concern: Are they going to make it?
“Today, at the end of practice, it was great to see these guys get out and – with really good tempo – run some routes. Which means that they’re really on the mend and I wouldn’t be surprised if they can do some work next week.”
That would be in the team’s final minicamp, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If not then, “Certainly, they’ll be ready to go for camp,” Carroll said. That would be training camp, which starts in late July.
“It was a great sign today,” Carroll said. “That was a nice boost to see that happen here this late in the OTAs.”
In the prolonged absences of Houshmandzadeh and Branch, who ranked 1-4 on the team last year with 79 and 45 receptions, the coaches have been able to get extended looks at the wide receivers who will complement them this season.
That group includes Golden Tate, this year’s second round draft choice; Deon Butler, a third-round pick last year; Ben Obomanu, a seventh-round pick in 2006; Mike Williams, a former first-round draft choice by the Detroit Lions who was signed after getting a tryout at the first minicamp; Reggie Williams, another former first-rounder; Sean Morey, a former Pro Bowl special teams player who was added in free agency; and Isaiah Stanback, the former quarterback from the University of Washington who was claimed off waivers two weeks ago.
JUST FOR KICKS
Veteran kicker Olindo Mare was not in attendance today, but that didn’t stop the team from trying a few field goals – with punter Jon Ryan doing double duty.
Ryan converted three of his four attempts – hitting from 20 and 28 (twice) yards and missing wide left on a 20-yarder.
With Ryan doing the kicking, wide receiver Ruvell Martin replaced him as the holder.
Rob Rose. The last of the team’s rookies rejoined practice. A 291-pound defensive end from Ohio State, Rose participated in the post-draft minicamp. But he was not eligible to return until his university’s academic year had been completed. That happened Thursday, so Rose flew to Seattle on Friday, took part in the conditioning program workout Monday and got some reps in practice today.
QUESTION DU JOUR
Q: How is Red Bryant’s transition to defensive end going, and if he does make the transition how effective will he be as a pass rusher? – Cole, Goldendale
A: To answer your first question, Cole, better than expected. What started out as a let’s-give-him-a-look move for the former defensive tackle has produced eye-opening results to this point. Bryant continues to work on the left side with a No. 1 line that also includes nose tackle Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane at the three-technique tackle and Chris Clemons at the “Leo” end spot.
As far as how effective Bryant will be as a pass rusher, he will play primarily on mixed downs, with the coaches going to smaller, faster players at the ends in the nickel defense used in obvious passing situations.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The question comes up, why I left and all. My coming to Seattle is for one reason. This was an extraordinary opportunity. It’s a NFL dream opportunity for me, and it had nothing to do with anything that was going on at any time. That ongoing investigation was five years in the making anyway. Why wouldn’t I have left some other time? There was never an opportunity that gave me the chance to do something in such a unique fashion as here in Seattle. I’m thrilled to be here, and it had nothing to do with anything else that was going on anywhere in the world.” – Carroll, who talked at length about the penalties levied against USC last week