By Liz Mathews
Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill joined “The John Clayton Show” Saturday and discussed his return to the team and the younger, stronger, faster defense that head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are piecing together.
“I was sort of nervous, you know,” Hill said. “They gave me a a couple chances or whatever to come back. I guess I never really left. This is the only team I have ever played for.”
Hill didn’t re-sign with the Seahawks until April 12, marking his second consecutive year inking a one-year deal with the team. Hill and cornerback Marcus Trufant are the only two players who remain on the roster from the 2005 team that advanced to the Super Bowl.
“I welcome the chance to come back,” Hill said. “I’m back in the same Will (weak-side linebacker) position I’ve been at for the last seven years and I’m happy to get to work.”
Hill played in all 16 games last season for the first time in his career, making 89 tackles and 4.0 sacks.
Early in his career, Hill was thought of as a violent linebacker, playing a style of football that the league now discourages.
“I wanted to hurt you and hit you harder than you hit me,” Hill said. “That’s how I played and I think it caused a lot of injuries early on in my career. Now that I’m getting older, I’m more about making the tackle, just get the man down. I want to play the way that I played, just in a more veteran way.”
Hill discussed his time with the Seahawks and the heady expectations the organization had for himself, Lofa Tatupu and Aaron Curry. The trio had been projected as one of the most promising linebacking corps in football.
“I caused a lot of my own problems, I understand that,” Hill said. “With Lofa, the regime just wanted to go another direction. And for Aaron, he just wasn’t picking it up fast enough for the them. It was set to be a great linebacking corps, it just sort of disintegrated or whatever. It’s just crazy that I’m the only one left from all of that.”
With Carroll and Schneider now entering their third season with the organization, the Seahawks have an entirely new look.
“Pete’s scheme is lot more meat and beef up front, the D-line is set to make a lot of plays,” Hill said. “A lot of the rushing schemes are for the Leo to come off the edge. The front four are a lot more important than in Jim’s (Mora) scheme. When I sit back and sort of study the defense, I think it’s almost like a hybrid 3-4.”
Hill explained that not only have the schemes changed, but the style and physicality of the players as well.
“If you looked at the starting 11 from last year, it’s different body types,” Hill said. He compared the varied looks of defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Not to mention the obvious height at the cornerback position added last season.
As for the linebackers, the group remains a work in progress. With the loss of free agent David Hawthorne, second-round pick Bobby Wagner will compete for the chance to start in the middle.
But who starts where likely won’t be decided until well into training camp. The team is only entering the second week of Phase Two of the offseason program.
“I’ve never seen an off-season program with pretty much 100 percent of the team,” Hill said of the number of veterans who elected to stay in Seattle and attend the voluntary workouts. “Everybody is happy to get back to work and see how things go.”