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Jackson, Carlson will get chance to start for Seahawks

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Lawrence Jackson and John Carlson had better things to do than sit captive by the phone when the Seahawks called during the draft.

Jackson, the speedy pass rusher from Southern California, was trying to get the suddenly inoperable "Rock Band" to work again on his video game player at the family's home in Los Angeles. He was also grabbing one of his father's huge barbecued hamburgers when Seattle made him the 28th overall choice Saturday.

Jackson was starving after nervously waiting hours -- days, really -- to find out where his NFL life would begin.

"You'd be surprised how little a guy can eat over these three days," the 271-pound defensive end said Monday with a smile as broad as his expansive shoulders.

Carlson, a sure-handed tight end from Notre Dame, was downstairs playing at his family's home in Litchfield, Minn., when the Seahawks called early in the second round. His fiancee rushed down to hand him his phone, interrupting construction of a Lego set with his 5-year-old nephew, Tyson.

"It was a really cool one, an F-14 fighter jet!" Carlson gushed two days later, extending both arms to show the jet's wingspan. "Really cool. They didn't have those when I was a kid."

Now the games get real.

Friday during Seattle's first minicamp, Jackson and Carlson begin seeking their opportunities to not only contribute as rookies for the four-time defending NFC West champions, but to start.

"We are expecting a lot from both of these guys," coach Mike Holmgren said Monday, moments after Jackson held up his new blue No. 95 Seahawks jersey and Carlson showed off his new No. 89.

This isn't last year, when Seattle didn't have a first-round choice because it traded that to New England to get wide receiver Deion Branch. It used its second-round pick on Josh Wilson, an undersized cornerback who is a backup to Kelly Jennings and a special-teams player.

No, this No. 2 pick has a starting job to lose, though Holmgren and president Tim Ruskell are stopping short of declaring that just yet.

Seattle let tight end Marcus Pollard leave after one season of injuries and dropped passes. A year ago, the Seahawks let Jerramy Stevens go because he was too much trouble off the field, and sometimes on.

When Holmgren talked to Carlson -- once he set aside the Legos -- on the phone Saturday, the coach told the 6-foot-5, 24-year-old, "I'm going to push you to be ready to play quickly."

The Seahawks traded up 17 spots in the second-round with Baltimore and gave the Ravens their third-round pick because Ruskell said he had "inside information" that Seattle's top-rated college tight end would go early in Round 2. Teams don't make such a move unless they are going to start that target.

The last time the Seahawks traded up in the second round was in 2005 for Lofa Tatupu, when they needed a starting inside linebacker.

That worked out okay. The old apartment neighbor of Jackson's when both played at USC has been to Pro Bowls in his first three seasons. Tatupu just signed a $42 million contract extension that could keep him in Seattle through 2015.

"Like Lawrence said, it's surreal," Carlson said of this opportunity. "Friday, when we get on the field, it will be more real."

Jackson is a Seahawk because the team felt Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney tired late last season from playing too many snaps. Seattle thinks Jackson will immediately compete to start at right end with Darryl Tapp, a second-round pick in 2006 who has shown brilliant flashes.

Jackson already heard from Tatupu.

"He called me a couple hours (after being drafted) and I missed the phone call," Jackson said. "I got hit with a rookie fine for that."

The Seahawks love that Jackson often moved inside to tackle on passing downs at USC to present unique height and speed challenges for an offense's interior linemen. It's a role Kerney also had last season with Seattle.

"We are going to put him in there and let him rush over the guard on passing downs," defensive line coach Dwaine Board said of Jackson.

The Seahawks also love Jackson's intellect. He studied philosophy and sociology at Southern California.

He exchanged taunts with Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter last Thanksgiving night in a nationally televised game after reading a best-selling self-help and inspiration book.

"I had just finished reading 'The Secret,' the law of attraction, you know. So I was feeling it," Jackson said. "I just told him, 'We're going to be coming after you all day."'

Jackson ended up with four sacks of Carpenter -- the most by a Trojans player since 1989 -- and bloodied the quarterback's lip in USC's blowout road win over the No. 7 Sun Devils.

Yes, Jackson has flair. Inspired by shirtless, chest bumping Trojans staffers who would rile up players in meetings, Jackson began a "Romper Stomper" sack dance, what the "Bash Brothers" of the old World Wrestling Federation used to do.

Are you okay with that from a rookie, coach?

"We'll talk about that," Holmgren deadpanned, patting his new defensive end on the shoulder.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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