Deon Butler the Seahawks wide receiver from Penn State was sporting a new number

deon-butler-back-at-seahawks-campDeon Butler not only returned to the Seahawks’ practice field on Monday, the wide receiver from Penn State was sporting a new number.

What’s up with that? Butler had been issued No. 85 when he arrived for the post-draft minicamp earlier this month. But Monday, he was wearing No. 11.

“I wanted to get a sleeker number,” Butler, the team’s third-round selection in last month’s NFL draft, said after a spirited 90-minute OTA session. “I wanted a lower number, because 85 was kind of big for a skinny guy.”

Of greater significance than the fact that Butler had opted for a new number is what he was doing while wearing it. Butler did not look – or feel – like the same rookie receiver who had to battle just to keep up in this previous practices with the team.

“I felt good out there, catching the ball and running routes,” Butler said. “Just continuing to learn.”

And you never know where the next bit of sage advice might come from. On a run play, Butler went to block strong safety Deon Grant, who then informed the rookie that he had presented his hands too quickly.

“It’s just a great feeling when you know you can rely on other guys like that, and consistently learn on every play,” Butler said.

Butler might have turned in the best play of the day when he made a nice reaching grab of a pass despite tight coverage from Kevin Hobbs – a third-year cornerback whose day included an interception and a break up of another pass.

Butler, as well as most of the other rookies on the 80-man roster, was allowed to rejoin the team after May 16. League rules stipulate that rookies may be on the premises for 72 hours for the post-draft minicamp (May 1-3), but then must leave until their class has graduated – or in the case of Butler and second-round pick Max Unger, the 16th, because they already had graduated.

First-round draft choice Aaron Curry did not practice Monday because his graduation ceremony at Wake Forest was that night. He was scheduled to fly to Seattle on Monday night and join the OTA sessions on Tuesday. Cal tight end Cameron Morrah, a seventh-round pick and early entry in the draft, will miss this week because his finals are not over until May 21.

Guard Max Unger, along with Butler and Rutgers safety Courtney Greene, admitted that things were easier in this OTA session than in the minicamp. Easier. Not Easy.

Unger continues to make the transition from college center to NFL guard, and was working on the left side – as he did in the minicamp – with a No. 2 line that also included left tackle William Robinson, center Steve Vallos, recently signed right guard David Washington and right tackle Andre Ramsey.

“Any time you come into a totally new environment like this you’re just going to be completely out of your element,” Unger said. “It would be difficult enough if I was still playing center. But now I’m learning a new position, as well.

“But it’s cool, though. It’s really good.”

Greene, the first of the team’s three picks in the seventh round, saw time at free and strong safety on Monday, when he was part of a No. 2 secondary that also included cornerback Josh Wilson, safety Jordan Babineaux and the ever-active Hobbs.

“Coming back this time was more relaxed,” Greene said. “You’ve got a better idea of what’s going on, what’s expected of you. It’s just understanding the defense better, after getting in your p laybook, and knowing the guys that I’m in the (meeting) room with know. They’re taking me in and teaching me things, giving me tips.”

Give another assist to Grant, and also veteran free safety Brian Russell.

“Stuff that causes them problems they’re bringing up in the meetings,” Greene said. “That makes it easier on the young guys if it happens to us. Just being around those two guys is really helping me.”

Greene’s best play came in the two-minute drill, when he used a good read and even better reactions to break up a first-down pass intended for wide receiver Jordan Kent.

“This time was fun,” Greene said. “My play today was better than before. Now I’m more at ease and know what I’m doing.”

So what does a football player do after he has been drafted, but isn’t allowed to remain with the team that selected him?

Butler: “I’ve been just running around like crazy. Trying to finish up all the stuff I need to do off the field – with your agency and financial people. I was trying to solidify that. But in between that I’ve been working out and just trying to stay in shape because I wanted to come back here and be in the best shape possible so I can contribute to the team. Like coach (Jim Mora) was saying today, ‘Not wade into things, but jump right back into it.’ ”

Unger: “I still have my apartment down in Eugene from college, so I’ve just been down there and working out.”

Greene: “I went home (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and was working out with my high school DB coach and Ray Rice (the former Rutgers and New Rochelle High School running back who was drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens last year). That’s about it. Working out and relaxing with my family.”

More focused. Better prepared. More relaxed. The Seahawks rookies were that, and more, on Monday. And it showed.