Seahawks' backfield candidates gearing up for competition

Published on May 4, 2010 by     Seahawk Fanatic

That was the approach coach Pete Carroll took after LenDale White said his weight was under 230 pounds.

“We’ll see,” Carroll joked.

The proof was in a lack of pudding. White, acquired by the Seattle Seahawks in a trade last week, arrived in Seattle in such good shape that he lost 7 pounds between interviews on Friday. He told reporters that he weighed about 225 pounds, and not 15 minutes later his coach had him pegged a few dozen Happy Meals under that.

“He looks great,” Carroll said of White, whom he coached at USC. “He’s 218. I can’t remember him ever being that light. I don’t think he was that light when we recruited him.”

Less is more — at least for White. For Seattle’s backfield? Not so much.

Seattle already had Justin Forsett and Julius Jones on the roster when it traded for White and Leon Washington on the final day of the draft. Now, there’s not a logjam at the position so much as a free-for-all.

“Right now, we don’t have a depth chart,” said Jeremy Bates, Seattle’s offensive coordinator. “It’s still early. We’re just giving them all the rock and letting ’em run. Come September 12, we’ll know who’s our starting running back.”

Washington was an explosive back with the New York Jets, returning three kickoffs for touchdowns in 2007 and catching 47 passes in 2008. He is recovering from a broken leg and will be on the field when training camp begins if his recovery timetable holds.

White is a former second-round pick who rushed for 1,110 yards in 2007, his second year in the league. He was out of shape and out of Tennessee’s rotation by last season, though, and was grateful to get a fresh start with a familiar face in Carroll.

“This is my guy,” White said. “It’s exciting to come back and play with a guy that I’m so familiar with.”

Forsett and Jones aren’t familiar with the coach, but they are with the franchise. Forsett led Seattle with an average of 5.4 yards per carry last season, and Jones is in his third year in Seattle, playing for his third different coach. He is lighter this season at 207 pounds, down from about 215 a year ago.

What was his reaction to last week’s additions?

“Business as usual,” Jones said.

“This is the NFL,” he added. “Things happen. Competition is a part of it.”

That’s exactly what Carroll has been saying, and it’s hard to see any position in Seattle that will be more competitive than running back.

Forsett and Jones are playing to hold on to their roles. Free-agent pickup Quinton Ganther is also practicing. Washington is playing on a one-year contract, as is White, who spent the past two seasons buried on Tennessee’s depth chart behind Chris Johnson.

“I’ve come here to play and start,” White said. “I didn’t come here to sit the bench no more. I’m going to do everything I can in my power to win football games and start.”

There isn’t a runner among those backs who doesn’t feel that way, and White said he wouldn’t expect anything less.

“Competition isn’t going to do nothing but bring out the best of all of us,” White said.

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