Seahawks new kicker Ryan Longwell grew up watching the team
Former Packers, Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell won a spot on Seahawks team with an impressive tryout Tuesday. Longwell grew up in Puyallup.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks memories come back quickly to Ryan Longwell.
Watching games in the Kingdome with his grandfather. Cheering on local legends Steve Largent and Jim Zorn. Even playing against his hometown team during a 15-year NFL career had special moments.
"I told all my teammates in Minnesota when we played here in the preseason last year that the highlight of my day was having Chip Hanauer raising the 12th Man flag," said Longwell, a Puyallup native. "I grew up here watching the hydroplanes, watching the Seahawks, the Mariners and the Sonics back then."
Longwell, decades removed from being a young fan, might soon be called on to add to Seahawks history. The 38-year-old veteran signed with the team Wednesday to replace kicker Steven Hauschka, who was placed on injured reserve with a strained calf.
Longwell beat out three other kickers who were invited to try out Tuesday, heading into Sunday's divisional playoff game at Atlanta.
"It's kind of an honor to put on the helmet that you grew up watching," he said.
Changing kickers at this point of the season is "a big deal to us," coach Pete Carroll said, but Longwell's experience — winning a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1998 — helped earn him the job, not to mention a 55-yard field goal in Tuesday's workout.
"When you look at Ryan's background, the great experience he's had, the time he's had in playoff situations and all of that, to make this transition for a younger guy might be more of an issue, and we think he can handle that," Carroll said.
Longwell, who was released by the Vikings in May, kept himself in shape by working out regularly and kicking about once every 10 days. He and his wife, Sarah, had been preparing for a marathon this weekend near their home in Orlando.
The Seahawks contract "got me out of that," Longwell said with a laugh.
While other teams had expressed interest during the season, Longwell passed, saying the opportunities "didn't seem right" and that it felt teams were "looking just to look."
What did feel right? Coming back to the Pacific Northwest, where Longwell remembers his holder at Aylen Middle School being Damon Huard, the future University of Washington quarterback.
"I just kind of had a feeling even though I hadn't played this year that something was going to happen," Longwell said. "I didn't know where, but for it to happen in this way and in this place is pretty special."
Hauschka made 24 of 27 field goals this season and was 46 of 48 on extra points. He went 3 for 3 on field goals Sunday at Washington, matching a Seahawks postseason record, despite the strained calf.
"Steven's had a great season for us and done a fantastic job," Carroll said. "I hate to have to make that change right now; he just can't kick off for us."
Chukwurah grateful for "last shot"
Did Patrick Chukwurah, who hadn't played an NFL game since 2007, think he'd have another chance in the league? Let alone in the playoffs?
"Honestly, no," said the 33-year-old, who signed with the Seahawks on Wednesday. "I was really set on just moving on and starting the next chapter. It's definitely a blessing."
Chukwurah replaces Chris Clemons, the Seahawks' sacks leader who suffered a season-ending knee injury Sunday in Washington. Carroll said he isn't sure how much Chukwurah play against the Falcons, but praised the new signing's work rate and ability to play special teams.
"It's pretty much one of those stories that you don't think would ever happen," Chukwurah said. "I just came in with mindset that if this is going to be my last shot, just give it all I got."
Falcons respect Lynch
The Falcons displayed a lot of respect for Marshawn Lynch in their comments Wednesday, but no one on the Atlanta squad goes back further with Lynch than safety Thomas DeCoud.
They played for rival schools in the Bay Area, DeCoud at Pinole Valley, Lynch at Oakland Tech. DeCoud was quick to point out that his team came out on top in at least one of the matchups.
"Pinole Valley beat Oakland Tech, '02, Marshawn," he said with a grin, pretending to address the Seahawks' running back.
Then they were teammates at California (along with Seattle's Brandon Mebane), developing a friendship that transcends Sunday's playoff game.
"They have Beast Mode back there, my bruh, Marshawn," DeCoud said. "I know him in and out, he knows me very well. It's going to be great. We have our work cut out for us again. He's totin' the rock very, very well for them. A lot of his yards come after contact, so it's really going to be a challenge for us."
Asked if Lynch has always been so tough, DeCoud replied, "He was the man since he was able to not wear diapers any more. That's my dog, man. He's a great, great, great, great football player."
• Lynch (foot), cornerback Byron Maxwell (hamstring) and safety Jeron Johnson (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. None of the injuries were reported last week.
• Seahawks fans are invited to send the team off at 2:30 p.m. Friday near the intersection of 46th Avenue South and South 188th Street in SeaTac.
Staff reporter Larry Stone contributed to this article.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @joshuamayers