A recap of the day’s activities:
Jordan Babineaux. Instead of looking at his release on Sunday in a derogatory way, the versatile defensive back just considered it getting an extra day off.
“I’m here now. I’m back,” Babineaux said before practicing with the Seahawks as the continued to prepare for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field.
“Really, it was like I was never gone. I just kind of took Monday off.”
Now that he’s back, Babineaux has stepped back into his usual roles: backup to first-round draft choice Earl Thomas at free safety; extra corner in the nickel or dime; and special teams player.
“I kind of go back to being that plug-in guy, the guy who comes in on third down and is a nickel and dime guy; the guy who is the first to go in in emergency situations,” Babineaux said. “Really, I’m back to being that move-around guy, which is good for me because I’m eager to accept the situation because I missed playing inside.
“That’s where I was able to make most of my plays and kind of earn a name a little bit. You know the name …”
It’s “Big Play Babs,” a nickname he picked up after turning in several game-winning or -altering plays in the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl in 2005.
Babineaux was the team’s starting free safety last season, when he collected a career-high 105 tackles. That changed when Thomas was selected with the 14th pick in the draft. Babineaux was then moved to strong safety, but that spot went to Lawyer Milloy after the veteran was re-signed in late April.
Babineaux said he discussed his situation with coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, before and after he was released. That helped him understand the rationale behind the move, and subsequent countermove.
“They called me Sunday and told me they were going to release me,” Babineaux said. “Monday night I got a phone call from John Schneider. They really wanted to know how I felt about coming back.”
He was ready with the right answer. “I said, ‘Well, yeah, I don’t want to play for any other team, to be honest. In 2010, I see myself being a Seahawk. There was no questioning about where I was going to play.”
It definitely was what Carroll wanted to hear.
“Just at the time that we made the decisions on the roster, we talked about it in fact that Jordan might be coming back,” Carroll said. “The opportunity of this game plan, we thought we could use another safety in the plan. So fortunately Jordan was there for us and we jumped on it and got him back in here.”
Still, Babineaux admitted, “It was a crazy weekend, but now it’s over. I’m here and ready to move forward.”
The return game. Justin Forsett will return punts on Sunday, Carroll said today, while Leon Washington will step in as the kickoff returner.
Forsett, who also will start at running back, averaged 5.8 yards on 16 punt returns last season and 9.9 on 23 returns in 2008.
Washington has returned kickoffs in practice, but has yet to do it in a game since the Seahawks acquired him a draft day trade with the New York Jets. Washington was the AFC Pro Bowl returner in 2008, when he averaged 25.6 yards on 48 kickoff returns and 10.4 yards on 29 punt returns. But he broke his right leg in a game last October.
Carroll has been guarded while discussing Mike Williams since the Seahawks signed the former USC and Top 10 draft choice in April. Now that Williams not only has made the roster but will start at wide receiver against the 49ers, his former college coach dropped his guard.
“I really didn’t know what was going to happen with that,” Carroll said during his noon press conference. “I thought it was, ‘Let’s give him a chance, see what he can do.’
“I’ve even reserved my judgment on this all the way through the OTA season to see how Mike was and if he was really dead serious about this.”
As former coach Chuck Knox would put it, Williams’ actions spoke so loudly that there was no need to hear what he was saying. After being out of the league the past two seasons, Williams has been, well, let Carroll explain it.
“He has been impeccably directed throughout this whole time,” he said. “He has just been a tremendous competitor in every way that he could present himself. I was probably tougher on him than anybody because of my background with him and knowing him and knowing inside of it.”
Now? “I’m probably more thrilled than anybody to see him get to this point where he’s got a significant role to play on this team now,” Carroll said.
ON THE FIELD
The players practiced in full pads for 90-plus minutes, and owner Paul Allen watched part of the session from the sideline with Schneider and outgoing CEO Tod Leiweke.
Defensive end Red Bryant was extremely active in practice. He blew up a couple of plays with his explosive penetration, but his most entertaining effort came when the 6-foot-4, 332-pound Bryant bear-hugged the 5-8, 198-pound Forsett and carried him for several yards – with Forsett’s feet dangling in the air.
The first official injury report of the season:
OT Russell Okung (ankle)
Limited in practice
DE Raheem Brock (back)
TE Anthony McCoy (ankle)
OL Chester Pitts (knee)
Carroll said Okung “may be a couple weeks away, he may be a week away.” The first-round draft choice has been sidelined since spraining an ankle on the first series of the second preseason game.
Either Pitts or Tyler Polumbus will start at left tackle against the 49ers. Polumbus was working with the No. 1 line today, after Pitts got the first-team reps on Monday.
On McCoy, Carroll said, “Anthony is not going to make it in this game unless something miraculous happens. It looks like he’s out right now.”
The team got a scare when Milloy dropped to the turf in practice after being kicked in the leg by Forsett. But Milloy walked off on his own and was back at strong safety the next time the No. 1 defense was on the field.
For the 49ers:
LB Ahmad Brooks (kidney)
C Eric Heitmann (fibula)
WR Kyle Williams (toe)
Did not practice
CB Williams James (ankle)
LB Diyral Briggs (concussion)
The players will practice Thursday afternoon as they begin preparing for Sunday’s opener.
YOU DON’T SAY
“This is a roster that needed help. So we worked at it at every turn, every aspect of the opportunities. We tried to take full advantage of it.” – Carroll, on the team making 44 roster moves in the four-day period from Saturday through Tuesday