Cornerback Antoine Winfield, 36 years young, cast reason aside in choosing a young Seattle team known for its swagger over the familiar surroundings of Minnesota in free agency.
But Winfield had a good reason for his decision — the belief that he could win a Super Bowl with the Seahawks.
“We have a young team,” Winfield said. “It kind of reminds me of a college atmosphere. Guys are loose, it’s very competitive and we’re working hard trying to get each other better, so when we go out on Sundays it makes it a lot easier.”
Entering his 15th season, Winfield understands he has to make the final roster first. He signed a one-year, $3 million deal in free agency — including $1 million in guaranteed money — with the expectation that he would serve as the team’s slot defender in passing situations.
However, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider explained to Winfield that he would have competition – notably fourth-year pro Walter Thurmond, who finally looks healthy.
“We’re teammates,” Winfield said, when asked about the competition with Thurmond. “I love it. He’s a heck of a player. He goes out, he works hard. He’s been making plays. He’s had a great camp. And may the best man win.”
Thurmond has respect for Winfield as well.
“He has a lot of knowledge,” Thurmond said about Winfield. “He’s one of the gurus of the inside slot. He’s very physical, and he’s seen a lot of football. And I just watch him out there as he’s making the plays, and try to learn from that.”
Winfield had a sore knee last week, which kept him out of the Green Bay game, but he’s back at practice and expected to play in Seattle’s final exhibition game against Oakland on Thursday.
One player Winfield looked forward to playing with when he arrived in Seattle was Richard Sherman.
The two regularly talk coverage schemes at practice, with Winfield sharing his wealth of experience with the younger Sherman.
“He came in and fit right in,” Sherman said. “He likes to play man up, he likes to get in the face of the receivers and I think he does a great job in the slot.
“He has a great feel for route concepts and jumping routes and jumping underneath stuff, and he comes downhill and makes a lot of good tackles so I think he’s fitting well in what we like to do out there.”
And in turn, Winfield benefits from the energy Sherman exudes.