News & Notes: Butler Impresses Early On

Rookie wide receiver Deon Butler has more than lived up to expectations so far during his short time with the Seahawks. During the team's first camp after the draft, the speedy receiver and all-time receptions leader for Penn State looked like he belonged, showing a consistent ability to get deep against some of Seattle's veteran corners.

At 5-feet-10, 182 pounds, Butler might need to put on a few pounds. But his speed has been on display, showing why Seattle spent fifth- and seventh-round picks in the draft, along with a third-round pick next year, to move up to take Butler in the third round of this year's draft.

Butler also earned high praise from another former third-round pick - fellow receiver and new teammate Nate Burleson.

"Being a third-round draft pick I know exactly what he's going through," Burleson said. "Especially coming to a team where the receiving corps is already set. But just by watching him practice, there's no way he's going to be sitting on the bench on game day, and that is for sure. ... Running past some of the guys that we're going to have on the field on the defensive side, it just shows that he's going to be a competitor. And he's going to be an integral part of our receiving corps."

Butler said picking up the nuances of running routes has been a challenging adjustment, and that he's been leaning on veterans T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch and Burleson for guidance.

"This is definitely challenging when you get a playbook thrown at you like this," Butler said. "You have to be able to think quickly and be effective, because you have veterans already out here and they don't move at your speed. Even though it's rookie camp, we're not moving at rookie speed. So you've got to just keep up and keep going."

Butler also he has had regular conversations with former Seahawks and fellow Penn State receiver Bobby Engram.

"I spoke to him right before I came out here," Butler said. "He had nothing but good things to say to me and told me this would be a good fit for me, and that I would enjoy it out here. ... I met him at the Rose Bowl in California. So he's been real helpful. He's definitely helped me as far as what to expect at this level on and off the field."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

Perhaps veteran offensive tackle Walter Jones isn't as healthy as the Seattle Seahawks' brass publicly stated. Team sources on Thursday disputed reports that recently released Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Levi Jones was scheduled for a visit this week.

Levi Jones played left tackle for the Bengals, and was a first-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2002, selected 10th overall. He played seven seasons for the Bengals, seeing action in 94 games with 89 starts.

However, Jones finished last year on the shelf, suffering a season-ending leg injury against Philadelphia and missing the last six games. Jones also has missed 17 games in the last three seasons.

The Seahawks could be looking to add depth at offensive tackle, with Walter Jones not participating in the team's minicamp while still rehabbing from microfracture surgery on his left knee. The team has said it expects Jones to return in time for the beginning of training camp in July.

However, if Jones cannot return, GM Tim Ruskell has said the plan is for right tackle Sean Locklear to move to left tackle, and Ray Willis to fill-in at right tackle, so the report of the team looking at Levi Jones was odd.

But perhaps the Seahawks are considering the former Bengal as a replacement for Walter Jones at left tackle should the Pro Bowler fail to return to his high level of play. Willis said he still expects Jones to return, and that the current configuration of the teams' offensive line with Locklear at left tackle and Willis at right tackle is not a preview of the future.

"No, we're all just going out there and trying to work hard," Willis said. "We're not really concerned with that. Everybody's just trying to go out there and do their job.

"It's difficult to imagine the Seahawks without Walter Jones because of what he's done for his organization. He's a freak of nature. He's a marvel. I think he's one of those guys who can play as long as he wants in this league at the level he plays at, which is an elite, premiere level. So I think it's going to be his decision on when he want to walk away."

--WR Nate Burleson practiced at full speed for the first time since his September ACL knee surgery during drills at the team's minicamp a week after the draft, and said he felt comfortable running and getting in and out of cuts. "For so long I've just been rehabbing and running around with tennis shoes on," Burleson said. "So it's just good to be out here and catching the ball again."

--WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh is developing a nice rapport with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. With the team working on red-zone offense, Houshmandzadeh was the recipient of several well-thrown balls from veteran quarterback, as the team continues to work on getting a better understanding of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's new system.

"I've caught plenty of balls throughout the week, it's just that in the red zone you score touchdowns," Houshmandzadeh said. "So that's always fun. And so I just thought it was good.

"Maybe today guys' energy might have been higher because it's the last day. I just thought it was fun. I think being here these last three days, I think we can be pretty good, I really do."

--Second-year defensive tackle Red Bryant played in only four games and came up with eight tackles last season, with ankle and knee injuries keeping the fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M from making a steady contribution. But the 320-pound Bryant has made an impact during minicamp, shoving people around, and looking more comfortable as a run-stuffing force in the middle of the defensive line.

At 6-feet-4, Bryant is from a much taller mold than the traditional, squatty run stuffer. But, according to defensive line coach Dan Quinn, other attributes are more important. "You're looking for guys who are enforcer-type guys who want to get their hands on guys and play physical," Quinn said. "He has that mind-set; he has the temperament to play in there."

--QB Matt Hasselbeck said he's getting more comfortable in working in offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's new system. "The passing concepts I think I've got down pretty good, but there's a lot of room for improvement," Hasselbeck said. "I certainly can improve on getting it out of my mouth and saying it in the huddle with more confidence quicker, and making quicker decisions out there.

"One of the harder things is just learning the rules of the running game, and some of the terminology. I think if I just keep plugging away -- we're having meetings and I'm studying at home - and if we just keep doing that we'll improve as we go. But there definitely is a difference for me in having to learn quite a bit."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Competition's healthy. That's what you want. Like I said, you want everybody to feel like they've got to compete for a spot on the team, and compete for a spot as a starter, but it's not reality. But there'll be some spots that we really got to keep our eye on." -- Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora commenting on wanting to create competition for all positions on the roster.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Leroy Hill: Tendered at 8.304M (tender withdrawn April 25; re-signed April 30).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--QB Charlie Frye.
--LB Wesley Mallard.
--C Steve McKinney.
--LS Jeff Robinson.
--WR Koren Robinson.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--LB Leroy Hill: UFA; $38M/6 yrs, $15.5M guaranteed.
--CB Kevin Hobbs: Potential ERFA; $460,000/ 1 yr).
--WR Jordan Kent: Potential ERFA; $460,000/ 1 yr).
--LB Lance Laury: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB D.D. Lewis: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Ben Obomanu: ERFA; tendered at $460,000; terms unknown.
--WR Courtney Taylor: ERFA; tendered at $460,000; terms unknown.
--S C.J. Wallace: Potential ERFA; $460,000/ 1 yr).
--OT Ray Willis: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--DT Colin Cole: UFA Packers; $21.4M/5 yrs, $6M guaranteed.
--FB Justin Griffith: FA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh: UFA Bengals; $40M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--CB Ken Lucas; FA Panthers; $2.3M/1 yr.
--TE John Owens: UFA Lions; terms unknown.
--DT Cory Redding (trade Lions).

PLAYERS LOST
--DT Rocky Bernard: UFA Giants; $16M/4 yrs, guarantee unknown.
--WR Bobby Engram: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--OG Chris Gray: UFA; retired.
--DT Howard Green: UFA Jets; $625,000/1 yr, guarantees unknown.
--TE Will Heller: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Maurice Morris: UFA Lions; $7M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--LB Julian Peterson (traded Lions).
--FB Leonard Weaver: UFA Eagles; $1.75M/1 yr.
--OT Floyd Womack: UFA Browns; terms unknown.


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