So much for the glamorous life of a first-round draft choice.
Aaron Curry’s first week as a member of the Seahawks has included two coast-to-coast plane flights, the uneasy feeling that he’s a freshman in high school again and a startling initial reaction that the textbook for his only class was printed in Chinese.
Those were among the post-practice confessions from the team’s newest linebacker Friday, when the Seahawks kicked off their three-day minicamp.
“It’s like being a freshman in high school,” said Curry, the fourth pick overall in the NFL draft last Saturday. “In college, you could kind of squeeze your way in there if you’re a ball player.
“Out here, no matter who you are – whether you were drafted or undrafted – everybody is treated the same. And I think that’s good for the team.”
Well, almost treated the same. Only Curry was flown to Seattle after the draft to appear at an introductory news conference on Monday. When he left, he was toting his first NFL playbook.
“When I first got it, it was like reading Chinese,” Curry said. “I was just looking at it and seeing if I was familiar with anything. … I didn’t understand a bit of it.”
That changed once Curry was able to see on video what was in the playbook, and he then took another quantum leap once he got on the practice field.
“I was just doing everything on the go,” Curry said. “I had most of the basics down pat. But as far as the speed, I didn’t want to be out there thinking. So I was just flowing around, flying around.”
On one play, Curry dropped into the area Matt Hasselbeck was intending to throw ball, forcing the quarterback to go elsewhere with his pass. On another, Curry got a hand on a pass, misdirecting it just enough that the receiver couldn’t catch the ricochet.
Curry also was getting a lot of on-field, sideline and even classroom tutoring from fellow starting linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, as well as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and linebackers coach Zerick Rollins.
“Leroy was just helping me line up,” Curry said. “He was telling me, if I don’t do anything, flight around, fly to the football. You can’t go wrong if you do that.”
A lot of eyes were on Curry, and rightly so. First, he was the team’s first-round draft choice. But he also is the only rookie that was inserted into the starting lineup – at the strong-side spot that opened when Pro Bowler Julian Peterson was traded to the Detroit Lions.
“I think Aaron handled it well for his first day,” coach Jim Mora said. “This is always tough on all the rookies, and probably magnified for him because we asked him to move right into a starting role.
“He’s in there with 10 other guys who have played in the National Football League and have been in this system for at least a number of weeks. I’m sure his head was swimming. I’m sure he didn’t know exactly what he was doing all the time. But I thought he had a good attitude. He played with good effort.”
There were others among the 77 players practicing that also were worthy of mental snapshots on a picture-perfect day at the team’s headquarters on the shores of Lake Washington:
* Hill. Like Curry, Hill was practicing with the team for the first time this offseason. Like Curry, Hill was coming off a hectic week – one that saw the team rescind his franchise tag, only to then sign him to a six-year contract that is worth a reported $38 million dollars.
“I’m glad to be back,” Hill said. “It was a long process, as everybody knows. But I’m back and it’s all behind me.”
Hill was huffing and puffing a bit after his first on-field action since Week 13 last season, as he missed the final four games with a neck injury. But he also showed the traits that made retaining his services a priority for the Seahawks. On one play, Hill was all over a pass into the flat to running back Justin Forsett. Later, on a running play, Hill got to the back before the back could get anywhere near the line of scrimmage.
“It’s just good to be back,” Hill said. “Physically, I’m hurting to be back. But mentally, I’m happy to be back.”
* Ken Lucas. A former second-round draft choice, the veteran cornerback was re-signed Monday after playing the past four seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He fills a need, as a bigger (6-foot, 205 pounds), more experienced corner to play opposite Marcus Trufant.
“That was no mystery, we said all along we’d like to add a size corner,” Mora said. “Ken looked like he fit in. He’s a good guy. He’s impressive.”
Like Curry, Lucas stepped right in with the starters – at right cornerback. Like Hill, Lucas is glad to be back with the Seahawks.
“Having been blessed to leave and see the good thing you had while you were here, the fan base here is like (head and shoulders) above everybody else,” Lucas said. “There’s just no comparison and it feels good to play in front of a great fan base.”
Like Curry and Hill, Lucas is dealing with learning a new system.
“It’s kind of frustrating because you want to be your best right now,” Lucas said.
But as secondary coach Tim Lewis told him, “If you’re your best right now, then something is wrong.”
* The other draft choices. Second-round pick Max Unger was working at left guard with the No. 2 line, after playing center at Oregon. Third-round pick Deon Butler displayed his speed and savvy by using a burst to run under pass that was wide and short of its mark. Mora singled out defensive end Nick Reed, because the pass rusher from Oregon flashed in front of him so many times while the coach was standing behind the QB.
Mora is making sure that he gets to see enough of all the rookies – the seven draft choices, the six players signed after the draft and even nine others that are in camp on a tryout basis.
HAWK TALK: Ten players are not practicing while rehabbing from injuries or surgery, including Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones, defensive end Patrick Kerney, left guard Mike Wahle, wide receiver Deion Branch and just-signed fullback Justin Griffith. … Long snapper Tyler Schmitt, a sixth-round draft choice last year, and cornerback DeMichael Dizer were released Friday. … There will be two practices on Saturday and one Sunday morning before the rookies must leave, as stipulated by league rules.