Meet the Seahawks' new big back — T.J. Duckett
T. J. Duckett pulls up his right sleeve, revealing a biceps that's as big as a hamhock. Not as big as teammate Julius Jones' arms, Duckett...
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — T.J. Duckett pulls up his right sleeve, revealing a biceps that's as big as a hamhock.
Not as big as teammate Julius Jones' arms, Duckett points out. Jones wears his jersey with the sleeves rolled up to his shoulders.
"It's his gun show," Duckett joked. "I'm trying to buy tickets."
Well-armed. That's the best description for Seattle's backfield additions for 2008. A new hustle-and-muscle combination in Duckett and Jones. Duckett is one of the new components of a running-back equation coach Mike Holmgren is still trying to work out.
Will the Seahawks be better running the ball this season? We won't know until September. Duckett is a one hulking reason, however, that Seattle will be undoubtedly bigger out of the backfield.
Duckett is a running back who's built like a linebacker, a tailback big enough to pass for a fullback. He weighs 254 pounds, a former first-round pick who averaged nearly eight touchdowns his first four seasons in the league but is now on his fourth team in the past four seasons. Holmgren is still considering a number of ways to swing his new sledgehammer out of the backfield.
"He has been a halfback," Holmgren said. "But I would like him to move into fullback a little bit."
Duckett started off playing linebacker at Michigan State. He was behind Seahawk Julian Peterson on the Spartans' depth chart his first season when coach Nick Saban started using Duckett in goal-line situations. Duckett became a full-time running back his second season with the Spartans and entered the NFL in 2002, chosen in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons.
Duckett's size makes him unique, and he was an effective and promising back his first four seasons in the league. He averaged nearly eight touchdowns a season from 2002-2005 and gained more than 500 rushing yards in three of those four seasons.
Duckett was traded to Washington in 2006 and became a free agent in 2007, which is when the Seahawks first tried to sign him. Instead, he chose to sign with the Detroit Lions to be closer to his Michigan hometown. He rushed for 102 yards on Dec. 23 last season, the first time he ran for more than 100 yards since September 2003, and while the Lions said they were interested in re-signing him, they weren't chasing after him when free agency began.
Now, he comes to Seattle, signing a contract guaranteed to pay him $4 million, part of an offseason overhaul in a backfield that has struggled to convert short-yardage rushing opportunities over the past two years. It's a role that many have already penciled Duckett into. Not so fast, though.
"There are some teams that take a big, strong pile-driving guy and I guess they call him a short-yardage back," Holmgren said. "I have never done that. In fact, when I have done that it hasn't worked very well."
Duckett said he's ready for whatever role gets handed to him.
"Whatever it is, it doesn't really matter," he said. "Whatever I'm called to do, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."
He'll be ready when training camp rolls around. He makes sure of that by heading to San Diego, Calif., for more than a month's worth of conditioning work on the beaches, running drills on both wet and dry sand.
"You get on a football field and the cuts are that much sharper, your legs are that much quicker and stronger," Duckett said.
Strength is one thing the Seahawks won't be lacking in the running game. Not with the muscle-bound backs they signed this offseason.
• TE Jeb Putzier returned to the practice field on Wednesday as Seattle continued its voluntary veteran workouts. He watched Tuesday's workout.
• TE Zac Alcorn and WR Courtney Taylor did not participate in Wednesday's practice, watching with stocking caps. The team is not required to announce injuries or status of players during offseason workouts.
• WR Bobby Engram again was a no-show at the voluntary workout Wednesday.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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