Seattle Seahawks

Kerney glad to get back on field today

Patrick Kerney would like to put the pain and disappointment of 2008 behind him.

But the memory also serves as motivation to continue to do the right things to maintain his health and stay on the field.

“You learn how much you love the game when you’re watching,” Kerney said. “It’s so funny. A lot of guys in this business, with the day in and day out of practice and the lifting, they get tired of it, until you get hurt.

“And then the first day you’re sitting on the sidelines watching, knowing that you’re season is over, you want nothing more than to be out there doing it again. And so the couple times I’ve been hurt in my career, it’s made me appreciate what I have more.”

Ready to play in his first regular-season game since October, when season-ending shoulder surgery sidelined him for a second straight season, Kerney said he’s not concerned about the injury bug biting him again.

“The best way to get hurt is to be worried about it and slow down a little bit and all that,” he said. “Coaches also preach during preseason games that if you play like it’s a preseason game, that’s when you get hurt. So you just pin your ears back and go with everything you have.”

In the seventh game last season at San Francisco, Kerney tore the labrum in his left shoulder for the second time since signing with the Seahawks. He initially had arthroscopic surgery but continued to have problems and ultimately needed more extensive surgery.

Kerney said he feels fully healthy after having the surgery performed by team doctor Ed Khalfayan and diligently working with team physical therapist Reggie Barnes to regain his strength and flexibility.

This season, Kerney will move from left end to right end, where he can take advantage of his skill set as the best pass rusher on the team, with newcomer Cory Redding taking over at left defensive end.

“I like him on the right side,” head coach Jim Mora said of Kerney. “We have a big man in Cory Redding who locks down the left side. Pat will probably take a little less of a pounding on the right side. Typically, teams are a little bit more right-handed offensively with the tight end. In theory, that takes a little bit of the physical part out of it for him. But it’s still a physical position, but it takes a little more pounding off him.”

Defensive line coach Dan Quinn said Kerney has performed up to expectations so far.

“I see the things that I want to see out of Pat in terms of speed to power as an open-side end, and maybe getting a few more rush opportunities,” Quinn said. “We’re still playing him some at the left end, and that will go on throughout the year based on matchups and game-planning.”

Kerney, 32, certainly will help Seattle improve its pass rush if he can get back to his production of 2007, when he finished with a career-high 141/2 sacks in his first season in Seattle.

Also taking some of the pressure off Kerney and helping him stay fresh throughout the long season is the eight-man rotation Seattle will use along the defensive line. Darryl Tapp will see ample time at defensive end, along with Lawrence Jackson and Nick Reed.

Kerney still has four years remaining on his $39.5 million deal, $19 million of which was guaranteed. He’ll make $7 million this season, which includes a $3 million roster bonus.

Mora expects a big season from Kerney, if the team can limit the number of snaps he’s on the field.

“He came into camp looking really good, and he still looks good,” Mora said. “He’s stayed healthy. He hasn’t had days where we’ve had to give him time off because his shoulder’s gotten sore – or any other body parts.

“I think as long as we do a really good job of managing the number of plays he has – which I think is important for defensive linemen in general, because that position is the most physically demanding on the field – I think if we do a good job of managing his repetitions, he can be very effective all year.”

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437