Leroy Hill got off light. For now.
The NFL suspended the Seahawks’ linebacker for one game and docked him an additional game check for violating the substance-abuse policy, a penalty that stems from his marijuana arrest last offseason.
Hill still could face further punishment under the personal-conduct policy, depending on the outcome of his trial for domestic assault, which is supposed to begin next week.
There also is a chance Hill could end up in jail for violating terms of his probation in Georgia, where the marijuana arrest occurred in April 2009.
Hill will miss the very significant season opener against the division favorite San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field on Sept. 12. David Hawthorne is likely to start in his place—and perhaps replace him permanently.
If Hill plays well in the preseason and avoids jail time or further suspension, it would be best for the Seahawks to let him start ahead of Hawthorne so the Seahawks can create a trade market for him next offseason.
Speaking of trades, it appears the Seahawks were thinking along the same lines as us a couple of months ago when we suggested it might be worth investigating Washington defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
Since then, it has become clear that even Haynesworth’s own teammates don’t care for his selfish ways, and that he would not be a good addition .
“We started the [evaluation] process, because we thought maybe they weren’t gonna be able to come to a deal and they were gonna make him available,” Carroll told a Washington radio show this week. “But it didn’t work out that way.
“We were interested in the thought of him because he’s such a fantastic payer,” Carroll said, “but [it depends] if he wants to play the game. That’s what you have to figure out. Where’s the love of the game in all of this, and where does this all fit in? Because regardless of what [position] you’re playing him, if his heart isn’t in it 1,000 percent, and he [doesn’t want] to be great and be a part of a great team, then you need to get another guy.”
The Seahawks’ D-tackle rotation includes Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole, Craig Terrill and Kevin Vickerson. It’s a decent group that was unfairly criticized last season as it got almost no help from Seattle’s ends or linebackers.
Despite the generally poor play of the linebackers— David Hawthorne notwithstanding— the defense ranked 15th against the run (111 yards per game). For that, you can thank the solid play of the tackles.
Mebane and Cole combined for 97 tackles, ranking seventh and eighth on the team, and they cleared the way for Hawthorne to lead the team with 117 tackles as he played in place of the injured Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu.
The Seahawks’ tackles are good enough and should be better utilized this year. If the linebackers stay healthy and play as well as they are capable, the run defense should be much better.
The pass defense can’t get much worse; it ranked 30th last season. Mebane will be used as the three-technique pass rusher again, though with greater emphasis, and if the Hawks can figure out how to get pressure from the outside with their Leo candidates, their pass defense should improve. Of course, that’s a huge if.
Go Outside The Press Box to read about how the Seahawks are using on-field tutors to get their young players NFL ready.