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Seahawks can soar with Carroll -- just not so fast

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press
Pete Carroll has a lot of sorting out to do in Seattle as he begins his third stint as an NFL head coach.


RENTON, Wash. -- Other than Matt Hasselbeck, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Lofa Tatupu and Lawyer Milloy, who are these guys?

The overhauling of the Seattle Seahawks under new coach Pete Carroll and new general manager John Schneider has been so radical that there won't be any problems forgetting about the recent demise of this franchise. As far as everyone here is concerned, it's history.

"They made a change upstairs in the scouting department, GM, made a change in the coaching staff, what happens next is players are on alert knowing they'll be under the fire," Hasselbeck said. "It seems like over half our roster is new from last year. That's created a very competitive environment where guys are trying to prove themselves, earn their roster spot.

"All the changes on the third floor and the second floor have lit a fire under the guys on the first floor."

There have been 109 player transactions under Carroll and Schneider, including the recent signing of first-round pick Russell Okung. So the changes suggest that a rebuilding year is in order, although there is hope in Seattle that Carroll's new approach and a crew of hungry players can form a team that will compete in the NFC West.

This offseason, Carroll showed the team a highlight reel of the franchise's great moments and great players -- Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy, Jim Zorn, Curt Warner, Shaun Alexander, Hasselbeck -- and paid momentary homage. Then he shelved the video because history won't win games in 2010.

Nice touch, but the Seahawks might want to hang on to those glory days for a little while.

There is no offensive game-breaker of note. The offensive line looks as shaky as it did last season. The defensive line is really in flux after the retirement of defensive end Patrick Kerney and the trade of opposite end Darryl Tapp. The secondary could be a strength, but it will need first-round safety Earl Thomas to mature quickly and for Milloy, 36, to play like a kid again.

OBSERVATION DECK

» Hasselbeck is in no danger whatsoever of losing his job. My visit this week did nothing but confirm reports that he is light years ahead of Charlie Whitehurst and J.P. Losman. Whitehurst, whom Seattle acquired from San Diego in exchange for a second-round pick, was 50-50 in the accuracy department and on more than one occasion, he and his receivers were way off base. I was told that this actually was one of his better practices, too.

Whitehurst has to get up to speed, because even if he won't take Hasselbeck's job this season, the Seahawks gave up a nice ransom for him to be their quarterback in coming years. Losman fared about the same as Whitehurst in practice.

Instead of either player challenging Hasselbeck, this could be a tight competition between Whitehurst and Losman for who's No. 2.

» Seattle still needs to figure out its running game. Julius Jones worked with the first-team offense, but he didn't show near the burst or explosion of Justin Forsett. Jones was tracked down several times by linebackers before he could get going on the second level, while Forsett frequently scooted into the secondary.

Because of his size (5-foot-8, 198 pounds) Forsett's durability is a concern, but it wouldn't be a reach to think he ends up as the primary ball carrier, even if he doesn't start. Seattle still believes that Leon Washington should be healthy enough to play this season, but his role can't be determined until he gets back on the field from that nasty broken leg he sustained last season with the Jets.

» There is some head-scratching as to whether former defensive tackle Red Bryant (6-4, 323) will work as a defensive end, which is where he's penciled in to start. Bryant will be used like a 3-4 end, which is to occupy blockers as Seattle plays a hybrid four-man front.Bryant hasn't been overly productive in that role the past two seasons, playing in just 10 games with one start. It should make for an interesting experiment.

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» Linebacker Aaron Curry, last year's No. 4 overall pick, has missed much of the early stages of training camp with a concussion. Once he returns, he'll need to step his game up after a good -- but not spectacular -- rookie season. The outside linebacker has the potential to be a big-time player, and Seattle doesn't have many of those.

» Wide receiver Mike Williams, the former first-round bust from Detroit, is well on his way to making the team. In fact, unless he falls on his face in preseason games, he should be on the final 53-man roster. Williams, who has been out of football the last two seasons after ballooning up to a reported 270 pounds, has looked very good and is viewed as the ideal fade and red-zone receiver.

ROOKIE REPORT

» Okung's signing of a six-year, $58 million (max) contract with $30 million guaranteed Friday came just in time because Okung needs as much work as possible since he is the projected starter at left tackle. Ray Willis, a right tackle, was keeping the spot warm until Okung came to terms.

» So far, there are very high opinions of Thomas, the second of Seattle's two first-round picks. Thomas will end up in the starting lineup at free safety, and his playmaking skills could be huge in a division where Seattle boasts the only stable quarterback situation.

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» Wide receiver Golden Tate figures to play a huge role. He's already the No. 3 receiver and will work both wide and in the slot. He figures to get rushing touches, too, like Minnesota's Percy Harvin did last season.

SAY WHAT?

"With Coach Carroll, he really doesn't care. Maybe people think he cares because I played for him, but he really doesn't care. You might think we talk and joke, but I might talk to Coach Carroll once a week. That's not for any reason. It is what it is. We're not all chummy. I don't even have his cell phone number. He treats me like everybody else."

-- Wide receiver Mike Williams, who played for Carroll at USC

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