David Hawthorne, New Defensive Leader?

Published on August 4, 2011 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

Today the Seahawks unveil Training Camp 2.0, the enhanced version featuring appearances by at least half a dozen free agents – expected to be starters – who have been shelved because of asinine post-lockout regulations.

They weren’t entirely cloistered, because they were allowed on the field but could not participate in drills. And one vignette on the practice field captured the current state of the team.

During the enforced dormancy, free-agent receiver Sidney Rice was seen offering tips to second-year receiver Golden Tate. Ah, yes, that’s the way teams are built, crafty veterans passing along the tricks to the young guys.

Except that Sidney Rice is only 24 years old himself.

It represents a major challenge the Seahawks face as they try to assimilate late additions when there’s only a week until the first exhibition game.

Getting younger and stronger is one of the unofficial mission statements for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. But it comes at the expense of experience and leadership.

Somebody will need to step into those roles now that veterans Matt Hasselbeck, Lofa Tatupu and Lawyer Milloy are gone. We’ve already recounted the dozens of examples of their inspirational value to the team the past several years.

But right now, the average age for expected starters on offense is 25.2; it’s 25.4 on defense. When veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant was reminded that he’s the longest-tenured team member (in his ninth year), his response was cautious: “Sss* * * * *

hhhh.”

“We’re definitely a younger football team right now; That’s how we build,” Carroll said. “We know there are some issues with that, but there are also some issues with that that we like. We have to adjust accordingly and count on people accordingly. We’ve got some terrific guys on our football team.”

The first person Carroll mentioned in that discussion was David Hawthorne, who now moves from outside linebacker to Tatupu’s middle linebacker spot.

Hawthorne is a perfect candidate. He’s a guy who came in as an undrafted free agent and won his spot on the team with aggressive play. He then grew into a starter with status by being smart, studious, durable and tough.

“These guys respect the heck out of him,” Carroll said. “At the spot where Lofa has been, David steps up. That’s real obvious to us, and we feel comfortable with that.”

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