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‘Next man up’: S Bradley McDougald ready to step up for Seahawks

Bradley McDougald (#30) leads a group of DBs through a drill at Seahawks minicamp. (AP)

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll stressed the importance of extra work and conditioning as the team enters their six-week break. And it’s something safety Bradley McDougald is taking to heart.

Final observations from Seahawks minicamp

“This is not really the time to sit around and get out of shape,” McDougald told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom during an interview Thursday. “I just want to build on this.”

McDougald, who signed a three-year deal with Seattle this offseason, has been playing at both free and strong safety and heads into the break with his own list of things he’d like to refine (from tackling to the way he watches the quarterback). McDougald himself feels comfortable at either spot and prefers to be as versatile as possible – it’s what made him a prized acquisition for Seattle last season.

His approach this offseason isn’t hugely different from how it was last year, when he served as back-up to Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. But there is one change: an added air of veteran leadership.

“My mindset has been a little different,” McDougald said. “I’m still preparing to be the guy, I’m just trying to be more on my assignments. And not only my assignments but (also) the guys around me, (to) know what they’re doing and know where they’re going to be at so I can move faster and help guys get lined up.”

A 24/7 Seahawk

The Seahawks have their own set of rules, and the first is to protect the team. It’s why McDougald isn’t especially worried about the upcoming break.

“When you leave here you’re still a Seattle Seahawk,” McDougald said. “So you have to be mindful of that and protect what we have here, protect the guys around you. We try to be mindful of that, not only in this six week period that we get off, and it’s not really off time because this is the time to get your body in the best shape possible, (but) we kind of just try to stick to our rule and protect the team. Be a Seahawk 24/7, no matter where you’re at.

“Plus it’s a brotherhood,” McDougald added. “I feel like we’ve got a lot of good guys in our locker room that make good decisions, so we don’t really stress it too much.”

Next man up

The Seahawks are facing their longest Super Bowl odds since their 2012 season. That drop is in large part due to the departures of longtime Pro Bowl veterans Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and possibly Kam Chancellor (though no final decision regarding his future with the team has been announced yet). The team also lost some of last year’s big contributors in free agency, including tight end Jimmy Graham, wide receiver Paul Richardson, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.

During minicamp this week, though, linebacker K.J. Wright brushed off concerns about low expectations this season. McDougald echoed Wright’s sentiment, and added that he – along with other newer players – are up to the challenge.

“Guys are gone, but that’s a part of the game. Next man up. And I feel like everybody’s going to really relish in the moment. It’s time for certain guys to make an identity for themselves in this league. For some guys to step up and become the next guy. And that’s where I foresee myself on the team. Just stepping up and really becoming the guy the team can hang thier hat on and really rely on and trust, especially in late game situations. I don’t think any guys are worried about what the outside sources are saying. If the fans are with us, they’ll be behind us. And we’re going to go out there and we’re going to make a name for ourselves.”