Seahawks’ Chancellor steps into big shoes
RENTON – A year ago, Kam Chancellor learned from a legend.
Now the second-year safety has the responsibility of replacing him.
Chancellor, a fifth-round pick in 2010, played sparingly as the understudy to four-time Pro Bowler Lawyer Milloy. At 6-foot-3, 232 pounds, Chancellor was certainly an intriguing prospect, but he had few chances to show what he can do. But with Milloy unsigned and seemingly not in the Seahawks’ plans, Chancellor is expected to move into the starting strong safety role alongside free safety Earl Thomas, who is also starting his second season.
“Big shoes to fill,” Chancellor said. “And I’m ready. … It’s a big year for me. I can show all the things that Lawyer Milloy has taught me. The things I watched him do on the field, the things he taught me studying film. Just taking what he taught me and showing in the field.”
In fact, Chancellor learned so much from Milloy last season that he still hears the veteran’s voice in his head.
“You can hear him your head, ‘Get to the ball, get to the ball, get a strip,’ ” Chancellor said. “You just hear him yelling, and now it turns into a habit of doing it.”
In addition to his football knowledge, Milloy’s leadership seems to have rubbed off on Chancellor. Despite being only 23, Chancellor is the oldest safety on Seattle’s roster, and the “old” guy in that group has taken on a leadership role despite his inexperience.
“He’s really taken over the leadership,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “To have a second-year guy be a strong vocal guy on the defense, it’s impressive. He takes it very seriously, and you can see guys are rallying around him. … He’s taken it and run with it.”
Chancellor admits it is strange taking on that role so early, but considering that 14 of the 18 players in Seattle’s secondary are rookies or second-year players, he figures somebody has to do it.
“Other than (former Washington State player Marcus Trufant) and Kelly (Jennings), me and Earl are the veterans of the group,” Chancellor said. “We’re ready for that challenge. … I’m still learning myself as well, but I feel like I can take on a leadership role and help the young guys.”
Because of his size and big-hitting ability, Chancellor was given the nickname “Bam Bam” by Bradley, but this year he plans on showing he’s more than just a big hitter. Early in training camp, Chancellor has shown improved coverage skills, and over the past week he had a stretch of three straight practices with an interception.
“He’s really been on fire,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s gone three days in a row with a pick and made some big plays. Quickly he’s kind of becoming one of the guys to look to. He’s just the kind of guy that draws players to himself, just in terms of he looks like a natural leader. He’s had a great start to camp and he’s on his stuff and we’re all really looking forward to him continuing to grow.”
In Chancellor and Thomas, “Thunder and Lightning” as teammates are calling them, the Seahawks hope to have found a safety duo that can anchor the defense for years. Despite the youth at that position, the Seahawks are confident safety play will be a strength of the team this year.
“You’ve got young guys, but they’re young guys who have played,” cornerback Trufant said. “They just bring a lot of energy. Guys are flying around, guys are making big hits, guys are getting picks.”
Bradley certainly sees a bright future for Chancellor, who in his second season will try to show just how much he learned from Milloy.
“He’s throws it down,” Bradley said. “Every coordinator likes that guy who is really a thumper back there. And if you get a thumper who can also cover and do some things? Boy.”