As illustrated in another post recently, the success of the Seahawks under new coach Pete Carroll this season depends largely on the rejuvenation of half a dozen key veterans who have not been healthy over the past couple of years.
Guys like quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, linebacker Lofa Tatupu, and cornerback Marcus Trufant are the core of this team and the ones who absolutely must perform for the Seahawks to win.
But there is a second group of players trying to rejuvenate their careers, guys brought in by Carroll and general manager John Schneider who are making their own comebacks and who could help turn Seattle into a winning team if they become key contributors this season.
The most recent of these additions was defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock. Pitcock, a former third round pick, left the NFL after his rookie season in 2007.
Pitcock now joins a comeback crew that already includes dynamo running back Leon Washington, former first round pick receiver Mike Williams, rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond and veteran guard Chester Pitts.
All of those guys were at one point highly regarded players―whether in college or in the NFL―and all are trying to rehabilitate their careers by sticking on Seattle’s rebuilding roster.
Washington broke his leg in two places during a game last October, and the Jets decided to trade the dynamic back who had scored on three kick returns in 2007 and added eight touchdowns out of the backfield in 2008.
Washington, 27, is already back on the field, competing in team drills, and very well could be an excellent weapon for the Seahawks in 2010.
Another possible offensive weapon is Williams, who wasted three chances to stick in the NFL after Detroit picked him 10th overall in 2005.
Like Pitcock, Williams has been out of the league for two years, but Carroll’s former USC star has apparently looked very good in practices.
If he plays like he did at USC, where he caught 176 passes and scored 30 touchdowns in two seasons, the Seahawks will have a nice find.
Carroll thinks he has a chance.
“Mike all but tanked a career,” Carroll told ESPN. “He gave up every chance he had in the first couple of years…Mike has turned his world around. He’s living in the present. He’s focused on what’s going on. He’s in the best shape of his life. He’s competing every single day. He’s wearing that blue-collar mentality out there...He’s positioned himself to be a factor in this football program.”
So has rookie cornerback Walter Thurmond, who is already back on the field just 10 months after blowing out three knee ligaments.
If not for the injury, he likely would have been drafted in the early second or even late first round. As it was, the Seahawks got him in the fourth, and Carroll thinks he might turn out to be a steal.
“He’s an exciting player," Carroll told reporters after Thurmond played well in the scrimmage Sunday at Husky Stadium. “We’re seeing him start to come to life. He continues to be a real physical kid who makes good hits as well as using his speed and coverage ability.
"This could be a fantastic draft pick for us.”
Pitcock was a seemingly solid draft pick for the Colts in the third round of the 2007 draft, just a few picks after the Seahawks selected their own defensive tackle, Brandon Mebane.
A great feature by Greg Johns of Seattlepi.com talks about the depression issues that led Pitcock to leave the NFL after his rookie year. He sat out the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and the Colts released him, but he is rededicated and back looking for a career rebirth.
He could end up being a great addition alongside/behind Mebane, giving the Hawks two third round defensive tackles from that 2005 draft.
Last but not least among the Seahawks’ low-risk gambles is Pitts, a 10-year veteran who is coming off microfracture surgery on his knee.
Pitts is on the PUP list, but Carroll expects him to come off sometime this month and get some preseason action.
If healthy, Pitts will provide great competition and knowledge of the zone-blocking offense to a line that is otherwise short on depth.
If he can do that, he’ll join Washington, Thurmond, Williams and Pitcock as potentially great comeback stories on a team full of guys making comebacks.
Aside from the signing of Russell Okung, the focus in Seahawk City the last two or three days has been less on the team Pete Carroll is putting together and more on the teams coached by his predecessors. To read about it, go Outside The Press Box.