RENTON, Wash. – Greg Knapp has always been able to run the football.
In his eight seasons as an offensive coordinator, Knapp’s teams have finished in the top 10 in the league in rushing every year and led the league three times.
But Knapp is facing a challenge this season, revitalizing a struggling ground game while fitting the league’s 11th all-time leading rusher into the fold.
Edgerrin James joined the Seahawks on Tuesday and has been very limited in two practices with the team as he tries to pick up Seattle’s offense on the fly with the Seahawks nearly a month into training camp.
“He’s still getting into football shape,” Knapp said. “It’s hard to come off the street and be in football shape. He’s in very good shape, just not football shape. I feel that it’s been a good transition so far and I feel that his time in Indianapolis will help (with learning the offense).”
James ran in a zone blocking scheme during his time with the Indianapolis Colts and some of his most productive years came during his time in that scheme.
“I love the scheme,” James said. “This is one of the schemes that I’ve had success in.”
James has been shadowing incumbent starter Julius Jones in his first two days with the team. After every play he’s in the ear of Jones, third-string back Justin Forsett or fullback Justin Griffith trying to pick up the nuances of Knapp’s offense. He spent 15 to 20 minutes after practice Thursday taking handoffs from backup quarterback Jeff Rowe.
Knapp has vowed to turn around a Seahawks rushing attack that has floundered since their Super Bowl run in 2005. He thought he had his pieces in place with Jones, Forsett and T.J. Duckett as his running backs, but the Seahawks came to see Duckett as only a short-yardage role player and not the complement to Jones they were hoping for.
They hope that James can be effective in short-yardage situations while still adding another dimension that Duckett couldn’t provide.
“Julius is going to be our workhorse, our lead dog, and to be able to get a guy of Edgerrin’s caliber, and of his personality, and of his pedigree to come in here and do what he’s going to do, it’s really a bonus for us,” head coach Jim Mora said Wednesday.
Knapp said that they told James that Jones would be their number one guy, but that he would still factor in heavily in the running game.
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