The Seattle Seahawks LenDale White. Asked after practice to evaluate his four-year NFL career, the running back who was acquired in a draft day trade with the Tennessee Titans needed only three words.
“Kind of mediocre,” said White, who played for Pete Carroll at USC and then was the Titans’ second-round draft choice in 2006.
That self-assessment might be a bit harsh. White did rush for 1,110 yards in 2007. He also scored 15 touchdowns in 2008, including an 80-yarder.
But it’s the events of last season that White has been having a difficult time running away from. As the Titans focused on getting Chris Johnson to 2,000 yards – which was accomplished in the season finale against the Seahawks at Qwest Field – White’s role was drastically diminished. After carrying 303 times in ’07 and 200 times in ’08, he had just 64 carries in 2009.
“Sitting the bench for the whole year, dealing with that alone it’s a lot of stress,” said White, who also has had to cope with his grandfather being ill and the recent floods in Nashville – where he still owns a house. “It’s a life-changing thing. But I guess we go through that for a reason.
“I’m still here. Pete gave me another shot, and I’m looking forward to it.”
White is determined to get his once-promising career back on track. His weight is down to 219 pounds, after he got as heavy as 260 while with the Titans. He plans to play at 228.
“I feel I had to go through those trials and tribulations to get at this point where I’m at now,” White said. “I haven’t been this healthy since I was about 18-years old. I feel great and I’m exciting about this year.”
Carroll, who was hired in January to reshape the Seahawks, has noticed the difference, as well. It’s impossible not to.
“He’s got a style that makes him unique,” Carroll said. “He’s a little trimmer than he’s been. He’s right around 220 – which is, I think, as light as we’ve ever seen him maybe since the time he was in high school.”
Wide receiver. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hernia) and Deion Branch (knee) are not practicing while rehabbing from surgeries. But the inactivity of the team’s most-experienced receivers is giving others opportunities in these OTA sessions.
Today, second-year man Deon Butler and recently signed Mike Williams were working with the No. 1 offense. Butler was especially impressive while making a half-dozen catches.
Carroll on Butler, last year’s third-round draft choice: “Deon has probably made more progress than anybody. He’s more disciplined about his route running. We know he’s really fast. He’s been a consistent catcher. It just that he needs to be physical. As a smaller guy (5-10, 182), he’s got to stay on his feet and not get knocked around by the defensive backs. But he’s in it, and in the competition he’s right in the middle of it all. He’s running a lot with the first group, so we’re getting a really good look at it him right now.”
Carroll on Branch, who is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July: “What we saw in the first minicamp, he was just terrific in that camp. That was really reassuring that he can do the things we’d like to do with him. We have a role we’d love to put him in and we were able to test him enough (in the first minicamp)… and that was a great indication that he’s going to be able to fit in just right. He looks like a very, very good football player.”
Quarterback J.P. Losman was signed last week, but the former first-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills got his first real action in today’s practice – and will get even more in the practices on Wednesday and Thursday.
“He’s got a lot to learn,” Carroll said. “But he’s really jumped in and done a good job since last week of studying. He was able to handle the huddle a couple of times in the early part of practice. He has a terrific arm and he’s really hungry.
“He’s really competitively into this thing and wants to go for it. He knows it’s going to take some time before he can get caught up and really compete, but we see nothing but good stuff to start it out.”
Carroll said he already has talked to Charlie Whitehurst about, as he put it, “Feeling the push from J.P.” Whitehurst was acquired in a March trade with the San Diego Chargers to add depth at the position and possibly challenge Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job. But Hasselbeck has only tightened his grip on the role this spring.
“I think we’ve strengthened our quarterback situation, in potential for sure,” Carroll said. “Now we’ve got to get our guys playing well and we’ll see what happens.”
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Last year, summer practices were open to the public. Is there any chance that this will happen again this year? – Holly, Albany, Ore.
This is more like the question of the offseason, Holly. We’ve answered it before, but it’s obviously worth repeating. Yes, selected training-camp practices will be open to the public. Fans need to continue checking the website for more information and especially registration. Only fans who have registered will be allowed to attend practice, and the response last year was overwhelming.
Because parking at Virginia Mason Athletic Center is limited, transportation is provided from The Landing – just south of the team’s headquarters. Fans watch practice from the berm that is adjacent to the practice fields.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’re looking for the diamond in the rough. We’ve looking for the guy who’s going to overcome the odds, and we want that environment around the club.” – Carroll, on the team making 55 roster moves since he and general manager John Schneider were hired in mid-January