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Originally published Monday, September 7, 2009 at 8:08 PM

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Lawyer Milloy quickly tries to learn Seahawks' system

Newest signee will back up Jordan Babineaux at free safety

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

St. Louis @ Seahawks, 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13

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RENTON — Lawyer Milloy's morning began abruptly and awfully early Monday.

His alarm sounded at 6.

"Believe me, I tried to hit the alarm clock like 10 times," Milloy joked. "I had to get up because I have a job now."

What that job will be, however, remains to be seen. For now, Jordan Babineaux is starting at free safety, the spot Brian Russell filled the past two years.

"Babs won the starting role," said Tim Lewis, Seattle's defensive-backs coach, "and he's going to go in there every time we call first group out there. We feel good about that."

That means that Milloy starts his NFL homecoming as a backup. The role isn't entirely new for Milloy, who was raised in Tacoma and attended Washington. He has played with the second-string before, but that was three teams and 13 years ago back when he was a rookie in New England.

Now, he's a veteran trying to get up to speed.

"I'm trying to get in and fit in," Milloy said. "Get friendships and learn the playbook. Everything else will take care of itself. If I have to be a backup, that's what I have to do. I'll accept that role.

"As a backup, you're always pushing to be the starter. It was like that my rookie year and it's going to be like that now."

Milloy has played 13 years in the NFL and made four Pro Bowls. He has started 196 games in his NFL career so there's no need for training wheels to get him up to speed.

"A smart player," Lewis said. "I've met with him for, oh, about 10 minutes now, and he got all the base stuff we put in."

Babineaux has started 13 games, but in his six seasons he has made enough plays to earn himself a nickname.

"I've never heard anyone call him Jordan before," Lewis said.

He's called Babs by everyone on the team. Sometimes it's "Big Play Babs" given his penchant for timely contributions. As a second-year player in 2005, his fourth-quarter interception of Drew Bledsoe set up Seattle's last-minute victory over Dallas. A year later, Babineaux tackled quarterback Tony Romo from behind to keep the Cowboys from salvaging a blown field goal as Seattle dodged a bullet to win a playoff game.

Now, you can simply call Babineaux Seattle's starting free safety, the latest change to a secondary that all of a sudden looks very different. That shouldn't be a total surprise since Seattle allowed more passing yards than any team in the league last season.

The Seahawks didn't make a move to change the personnel until signing cornerback Ken Lucas after the draft. There was no mention of a potential change at safety until the day before training camp when president Tim Ruskell said Russell and Babineaux were competing for the starting role.

Russell played with the first-string defense throughout training camp and the exhibition schedule, but come decision day, Russell was gone and Babineaux was in the lineup, with Milloy waiting in the wings.

Notes

• WR Deion Branch did not finish practice and walked slowly off the field afterward. Branch said he was fine. He has undergone two knee surgeries in the past two years.

• WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh sat out practice with an undisclosed injury. He did not dress for Seattle's exhibition finale last week. Others missing practice: CB Travis Fisher (hamstring), S C.J. Wallace (ribs), C Chris Spencer (quad), LT Walter Jones (knee) and DE Derek Walker (unspecified).

• Seattle named eight players to its practice squad: WR Mike Hass, WR Logan Payne, S Jamar Adams, RB Devin Moore, CB Roy Lewis, C/G Blake Schlueter, T Kyle Williams and LB Thomas Williams.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Copyright © The Seattle Times Company

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