September 5, 2011 in Sports

Seahawks emphasize youth in 2011

Danny O'Neil Seattle Times
 

RENTON, Wash. – For the second consecutive season, the Seattle Seahawks spent the weekend before the opener rummaging through the rest of the league’s leftovers.

After adding six players during Week 1 last year, they claimed four new players this season.

Just don’t say it was the same old story in Seattle. There’s not much old around here these days. Not with Seattle’s emphasis upon youth on this roster, which is now a full year younger on average than it was to start any of the five seasons Tim Ruskell was president.

And while this week’s moves may feel similar to last season, that is where the comparison to 2010 will end, according to coach Pete Carroll.

“I feel very confident that there won’t be a lot of moves from this point forward,” Carroll said. “We’re strongly committed to the guys that we’ve chosen.”

The Seahawks made 280 roster moves a year ago, a churn that remained constant throughout a season in which they started nine offensive-line combinations.

But that was a different time and a different team. The Seahawks were negotiating a transition, which included evaluating the parts that this coaching staff inherited with the previous regime. Not only that, but Carroll was returning to the league after nine years at USC, and just getting acclimated to the kind of talent and contributors that could be culled from the ranks of unemployed NFL players.

There were some holdovers. Matt Hasselbeck remained the starting quarterback, Lawyer Milloy was promoted to starting strong safety, and right tackle Sean Locklear and center Chris Spencer were the only offensive linemen to start all 16 games for Seattle last season.

None of those players is on the roster. In fact, center Max Unger is the only one of the 11 projected starters on offense who was with the team before Carroll arrived.

The Seahawks entered each of the previous six seasons with at least nine players who were in their 30s for the first game. There are three current Seahawks who are 30 or older.

Instead of hoping veterans hold up, Seattle will be waiting for this young core to mature and ripen.

“If we think they’re going to play like wily vets, we’re mistaken,” Carroll said earlier in training camp. “We have to trim things and keep it more manageable for them. We’ve tried to do that so far.”

Defensive end Raheem Brock is 33, the oldest player on the roster and wise enough to know better than to be surprised at the demographic shift.

“When you get new coaches, a lot of things change,” said Brock, who played eight seasons for the Colts before coming to Seattle. “It’s not like when I was in Indianapolis — we had the same coaches and guys had been there for years. So it’s a little different.”

Actually, it’s a lot different. Of the 53 players on Seattle’s roster, 26 joined the team in 2011. Last year, Seattle began the season with 27 players in their first year with the franchise.

That churn is going to slow down, according to Carroll. An NFL roster is never a finished product, and injuries will always crop up, but Seattle’s coach said the door to the Seahawks’ locker room won’t be revolving nearly as fast as it did a year ago.

“We feel much more solid with where we are right now, and we’re developing players,” he said. “We’ve got young guys that we’re developing that we know have a high upside. We’re not going to be switching and changing. That’s not at all the mode we’re in.

“That time is gone.”


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