Giddy and chatting in superlatives with a broad smile, Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. may be the only one whose joy exceeded that of Bruce Irvin’s.
After a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, Irvin rejoined the Seahawks at practice Wednesday.
That had Norton worked up after practice.
“It’s like having a new toy,” Norton said. “We’re going to put him right in there.”
They finally can because Irvin’s suspension is over and he’s healthy.
Irvin has made donations to put toward the weight room at West Virginia University, where he played in college. He decided to go back and see what his money brought.
While at West Virginia, Irvin was forced to explain to some of the Mountaineers players that he screwed up. So, he worked out late in the mornings, then sat idle weekends, unable to satisfy his itch to play, because of a mistake.
“If you have four weeks to chill, you better be ready,” Irvin said. “I’m just honored that coach Pete Carroll has welcomed me back, and I’m just going to keep my nose clean from here on out and just play football.”
The Seahawks have moved Irvin to strongside linebacker from his defensive end spot. He’s broadening his focus from just rushing the passer after he had eight sacks in 2012 during his rookie season. Part of the reason, as Carroll says over and over, is because Irvin is the Seahawks’ fastest pass rusher.
“We have nobody else like Bruce,” Carroll said.
Which, in part, is why they are trying to expand his influence.
Irvin will be in coverage in the flat or set the edge against the run. He’s another prime addition to a Seahawks defensive that has added Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril since the season started.
“I was talking to Bobby Wagner, saying y’all don’t even need me in,” Irvin said. “Every time I looked up (Houston Texans quarterback) Matt Schaub was on the ground.
“It’s hard to make plays on this defense so I’m just trying to get out there and bust my tail and make the best of the situation when I’m in.”
That will likely be Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Irvin is able to practice this week without being on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster because of the league’s roster exemption. If the Seahawks activate him for Sunday’s game, they will have to cut someone Saturday or sooner.
Carroll, while sharing in the excitement, cautioned that Irvin will have to be worked back in. Norton also pointed out that this is just Irvin’s second year in the league, his first at linebacker.
“We got to get him on the practice field first to see what he looks like,” Carroll said. “He seems to be very fit, he feels healthy as he can be. He was a little bit nicked when he left, but he feels better now. His weight is right in the right spot, he looks strong and solid.
“He worked every day back at school, but we’ve got to see what he’s doing and what he looks like. This is a bit of a transition for him. He hasn’t really cemented himself in the position with the limited amount of work he got in preseason. (We’ve) got to wait and see what he looks like.”
Irvin had a groin strain during preseason. He said it has healed.
“I had a month to chill, so if it’s not good, something isn’t right,” Irvin said. “I’m good, my body is good, and I’m ready to roll.”
OFFENSIVE LINE IN FLUX
All-pro center Max Unger (triceps) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. That’s progress for him after being inactive last week.
Unger said he “narrowly missed out” playing last week in Houston.
“We’ll see,” Unger said about Sunday. “We’ll talk to trainers and see what they want to do. We’ll try to.”
Right tackle Breno Giacomini was still in New York after having knee surgery Monday. Carroll said there was no timetable for his return.
The Seahawks claimed quarterback B.J. Daniels off waivers Wednesday and cut linebacker John Lotulelei. Daniels was cut by the rival San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday. Wednesday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he was hoping to add Daniels to the San Francisco practice squad if he cleared waivers. … Fullback Spencer Ware (ankle), cornerback Jeremy Lane (hamstring), defensive tackler Brandon Mebane (knee), defensive end Clemons (not injury related) and running back Marshawn Lynch (NIR) did not participate in practice Wednesday.