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Seahawks bolster backfield in draft-day deals for Washington, White

RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll wasn't kidding when he said he wanted to resurrect the Seattle Seahawks with competition everywhere -- from anybody.

And he keeps bringing in familiar faces to do the pushing.

Seattle's new coach added sizzle to the final day of the NFL draft. He acquired LenDale White, his former USC rushing star who lost out to record-setting runner Chris Johnson in Tennessee, from the Titans on Saturday for draft picks. Two hours later, Carroll traded with the New York Jets for former All-Pro kick returner and recuperating running back Leon Washington, also for draft picks.

No, there's no such thing as too much competition in Carroll's Seahawks rebuilding plan.

"Too much competition?" Carroll said with a puzzled look. "No. No, this is good. It's the central theme in this program: to compete and battle."

Carroll said his two runners were "just a great one-two punch to add to our team."

True to Carroll's approach of come one, come all while massing all this competition, most of the Seahawks' Saturday moves have issues attached. The coach drafted, among others:

»  Walter Thurmond, a former All-American candidate at cornerback for Oregon until he tore three ligaments in September.

»  Kam Chancellor, a former Virginia Tech quarterback-turned-big-hitting safety -- the second safety not named Taylor Mays drafted by the former USC coach this weekend.

»  Arizona State defensive end Dexter Davis, who impressed Carroll in the Pac-10 by blowing past touted USC offensive tackle Charles Brown.

»  Tight end Anthony McCoy, another Trojan -- one who tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Carroll and new Seahawks general manager John Schneider capped the day by introducing Thursday's two prized first-round picks: Russell Okung, the replacement for retiring, six-time All-Pro Walter Jones at left tackle; and Texas All-American safety and ball hawk Earl Thomas.

"Can we get something done in here?" Carroll jokingly said inside team headquarters while popping his head out during a rare 15-minute lull during an otherwise frenzied morning.

The jolt was welcomed in Seattle, which has lost 23 of 32 games since its last playoff appearance at the end of the 2008 season.

"We needed to add firepower to this football team," Carroll said. "At least we affected it."

The Seahawks acquired White, who won two BCS national championships with Carroll at USC and set a Trojans record with 52 rushing touchdowns, and more from the Titans. Kevin Vickerson, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive tackle, and two draft picks in Rounds 4 and 6 went to Seattle in exchange for one of the Seahawks' fourth-round selection and another in the sixth round.

Carroll said when he talked to White on Saturday that the running back was "thrilled" with his second NFL chance.

"I can't WAIT!!!!" White posted on his Twitter page.

The Titans used the 45th overall pick to draft White in 2006, when questions over his weight dropped him from a possible top-10 pick into the second round. He had his best NFL season in 2007, starting all 16 games and running for 1,110 yards with seven touchdowns.

But Tennessee drafted Johnson at No. 24 overall in 2008, putting White into job-share mode. Before last season, White lost 30 pounds and reported to camp at 228 pounds, the weight Carroll says his running back was when he excelled at USC.

White said his weight loss plan came from cutting out most alcohol like tequila.

But while Johnson soared to become the sixth NFL back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, White became an afterthought with a career-low 222 rushing yards and problems showing up to work on time in Tennessee.

"As far as LenDale falling out of favor, he practiced. He was prepared to play," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "I can't blame him for wanting to play more.

"Considering the circumstances, he handled things. There were issues I don't need to bring up. I thought he handled things reasonably well."

The Seahawks made it clear that they see this as White's last NFL chance.

"He knows he's at a point in his career where he's got to take a step forward or it's not going to happen for him," Schneider said. "And we think it's going to happen for him."

Carroll said White told him he's in shape.

"We'll see," the coach said with a wry smile, knowing White is due at a minicamp Friday.

Last week, Carroll signed another former Trojans star, Mike Williams, plus fellow former first-round pick Reggie Williams to make his wide receiving corps bigger -- even though Mike had been out of the NFL for two years and Reggie had been idled for one.

Carroll and Schneider also recently traded for San Diego Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, then gave him a new, $8 million contract so he can compete with three-time Pro Bowl pick Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle.

"Matt's our guy, and Charlie's going after him," Carroll said. "That's the way we wanted it."

As for running back, veteran Julius Jones led Seattle last season with just 663 rushing yards. By the end of the year, 2008 seventh-round pick Justin Forsett had supplanted Jones as the Seahawks' preferred runner.

Washington, who has a rod in his right leg because of a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula suffered during an Oct. 25 game at Oakland, came into the league with White in 2006.

"Honestly, I was stoked," Washington said by telephone from New York when asked for his reaction to the trade.

Washington said he has been running for three weeks and believes he'll be ready for training camp in late July. He called Seattle "a great opportunity."

When healthy, Washington has been one of the league's more dynamic players, as a kick returner and running back.

No wonder Carroll sounded thrilled about this first big shot to start his third NFL life after previous stops in New York and New England.

"We're about as excited as we could have hoped to have been," the coach said. "I think it sent a message to our team that we are willing to work every avenue to get our football team in the right order."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.

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