Lynch joins Seahawks for practice

Antoine Winfield ready to make an impact on Seattle’s defense as 5th defensive back

Staff writerMay 29, 2013 

RENTON — Marshawn Lynch quieted speculation about his standing with the Seattle Seahawks just by walking onto the field with his helmet.

And while the focus was on Lynch, 15-year veteran defensive back Antoine Winfield quickly and quietly has created good chemistry with the rest of Seattle’s defense since joining the team as one of the Seahawks’ answers to better pass defense on third down.

A notable absence at the beginning of Seattle’s organized team activities, Lynch worked through individual and team drills with the rest of his teammates Tuesday.

Lynch took handoffs from quarterback Russell Wilson with the first-unit offense, and appeared in shape and explosive. He did not talk with reporters after practice.

“We weren’t too worried about him,” Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said. “You know he’s a great competitor, a great athlete and a great leader on this team. So, you knew wherever he was, he was working hard, and doing whatever he could for this ballclub.

“Until September, we’re not too worried about what No. 24 is doing. No. 24 is a great ballplayer and a great teammate. So we

know he’ll be prepared.”

While Lynch let his play do the talking, Winfield met with reporters after practice for the first time since joining the Seahawks.

The Ohio State product is a welcome addition for a Seattle team that allowed offenses to convert on third down 38.7 percent of the time in 2012, No. 17 overall in the NFL.

Winfield finished third on the Vikings in tackles with 101, and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three in 2012. However, Minnesota released him because he was due to make $7.25 million in base salary in 2013, with the hopes of signing him to a more cap-friendly number.

However, even though the Vikings offered more guaranteed money, Winfield accepted a one-year, $3 million deal, including $1 million in guaranteed money, to join the Seahawks.

“It was tough, but how it came about made my decision a lot easier,” Winfield said about leaving Minnesota. “It wasn’t like I wanted to leave — I was kind of scooted out of the door, as I might say. But it’s a business. I understand that so I just have to roll with it.”

Even with former Minnesota teammates Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice already on Seattle’s roster, Winfield said he did not need much convincing.

“Not at all, they didn’t need to,” Winfield said. “Once I had an opportunity to look around, Seattle was my number one choice and we made it happen.”

A starter for the past nine seasons with the Vikings, Winfield will be making the adjustment of playing as Seattle’s fifth defensive back. But the 35-year-old said he’s ready for a lesser role now that he’s in the twilight of his playing career.

“A lot of teams go to three-and-four wide (receivers), so you have to match up with the personnel,” Winfield said. “But I think it fits me a lot better, going to being a starter and playing 60 to 70 plays, to now I’ll probably play 35 or 40. So I’ll be in great shape for that.”

While measuring at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Winfield’s cat-quick reflexes and his toughness make him one of the best slot cornerbacks.

“He’s effective because he can stop on a dime,” Seahawks defensive backs coach Kris Richard said. “You can see why he’s been so effective for so many years inside on the slot. He brings an awesome level of humility, and he’s a tough, physical player. You look at him and ask, ‘How can he be effective in there at that size?’ But it’s his tenacity and his heart.”

“He’s very crafty out there,” added safety Kam Chancellor. “Sometimes we see him break on routes and it’s like he knew the route was coming. He’s very experienced back there, and that comes with all of the years he’s played.”

Sherman brought up another player familiar to Seahawks fans when asked to describe how Winfield plays – safety Earl Thomas.

“We’ve done had Earl around for awhile now,” Sherman said. “They’re very similar in size. Earl obviously has a step or two on everybody. But he definitely brings a different element to the ballclub. He’s a great player, a great teammate. And he has some great insight on how to play the game.”

EXTRA POINTS

Offensive lineman John Moffitt was excused from practice Tuesday to handle a legal matter. According to ESPN radio, Moffitt had to appear in court for misdemeanor charges of trespassing and obstruction of law enforcement. The hearing took place at Bellevue District Court. Moffitt has another hearing scheduled for June 14. … The Seahawks announced that tight end Anthony McCoy has been waived/injured, and offensive lineman Jake Bscherer has been added to the roster in his place. … Cornerback Tharold Simon, offensive lineman James Carpenter, tight end Cooper Helfet, receiver Brett Swain, defensive end Cliff Avril, defensive lineman Greg Scruggs and receiver Stephen Williams did not practice Tuesday. Defensive end Chris Clemons was not in attendance, and still is rehabbing from reconstructive knee surgery in Georgia. … Receiver Percy Harvin celebrated his 25th birthday Tuesday.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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