|Seattle's T.J. Duckett still trying to find spot|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 27 July 2008 22:37|
It happened in Atlanta. And in Washington. And Detroit, too.
Guess what? Nothing has changed now that Duckett's in Seattle. He's again stuck in a group of running backs, each trying to stand out and earn time on the field.
``You always want the ball in your hands, but at the end of the day it comes down to victories,'' Duckett said.
Now in his seventh pro season, Duckett welcomed putting on the pads Sunday morning for the first full-contact practice of the Seahawks' training camp. As always, his jersey was tucked under his shoulder pads - even on a cloudy and cool 60-degree morning.
``I've been doing that a long, long time,'' he said.
In a makeover of the Seahawks running game during the offseason, Duckett was the third part of a four-step process. It started on the offensive line when offensive line coach Mike Solari was hired, followed by the signing of guard Mike Wahle from Carolina.
Then came the backfield and the signing of Duckett to a five-year contract days before the team locked up Julius Jones for four years, signaling the end of Shaun Alexander's time with the Seahawks.
Even though the 254-pound, tank-built Duckett has been impressive through spring minicamps and in the opening days of training camp, the Seahawks still are trying to find ways to use him . In his first press conference of training camp, coach Mike Holmgren said Jones and incumbent Maurice Morris are the interchangeable starters at running back.
There was no mention of Duckett, but that doesn't mean his effort has gone unnoticed.
``He's making a lot of things happen right now. He's been a real surprise coming back into camp,'' running backs coach Kasey Dunn said.
From the beginning of his career in 2002 after he was the 18th overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons, Duckett has found himself sharing carries. In four years in Atlanta he split time with Warrick Dunn in a backfield where carries were even more precious as quarterback Michael Vick often took off running on his own.
Duckett landed in Washington for one dreadful season in which he rarely got off the bench until late in the season and never carried the ball more than seven times in a game.
Last year Duckett returned to his home state of Michigan with a chance to rejuvenate his career in Detroit, only to be asked to split carries with Kevin Jones and Tatum Bell. Duckett had 28 carries in the final two games of 2007 after 34 carries in the first 14 games.
``All you can do is just go out there and thrive off each other and push each other,'' Duckett said.
Duckett was brought to Seattle because, as general manager Tim Ruskell has said, ``you can never have enough backs.'' Even so, using Jones, Morris, versatile fullback Leonard Weaver and Duckett in an offense that has always been focused on one featured back and favors the pass over the run will require creative thinking by Holmgren and his offensive staff.
Jones and Morris bring speed. Duckett is a brute with surprising agility and can be a pass receiver. Weaver has been Seattle's short-yardage option since Mack Strong was forced into retirement.
``It's kind of tough. We run out of reps sometimes,'' Dunn said, ``but as long as they're going in and doing the best that they can with each particular opportunity they get, we're going to be in good shape.''