RENTON — Kevin Williams pinpointed his two most vivid memories of playing defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings in games against the Seattle Seahawks.
One, it was just plain unfair for a 311-pound veteran to have to try to chase around after speedy quarterback Russell Wilson. And, two, the Seahawks were a team that obviously had a lot of fun playing the game.
At Tuesday’s first practice of Seahawks minicamp, Williams got to be a part of the fun — although he was still asked to try to corner Wilson during the scrimmage portion of practice.
After spending 11 seasons in Minnesota, and making six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams, Williams landed in Seattle as a free agent.
And after his first practice at the team headquarters, he said he saw exactly what he expected.
“Anyone who ever watched them play lately (could see) how much fun they’re having, offensively and defensively,” Williams said. “Having fun and doing things right ended up with a lot of wins and winning the Super Bowl last year.”
Williams will be 34 in August, but he looked lean and quick in practice Tuesday. Several times he pursued downfield after running backs, or all the way to the sideline on plays around the edge.
It was only minicamp, and he’s a proven veteran, but he was not taking any plays off. Of course, he’s used to that.
Not only did Williams start 15 games last season, but he also played 720 snaps — far more than any other Seahawks interior lineman was asked to play last year. Big guys like Brandon Mebane (532 snaps) and Tony McDaniel (527) benefited from the Seahawks deep rotation.
It was part of the recruiting job coach Pete Carroll did to get Williams to come to Seattle rather than stay in Minnesota or go with the Patriots, who also vied for his services.
“He’s likely to be able to play quite a bit less and be a big factor for us; that’s more our style,” Carroll said. “Kevin has been a fantastic 3-technique in this league for years and years and years. He’s such a great competitor. Everybody loves what this guy is about. We had him in early, learned about him, studied him, and talked to a million people about him.”
Williams is a big-bodied guy who can stop the run on the order of a Red Bryant, but also is a threat to get to the passer from the inside as Michael Bennett did so well last season.
Right now, Mebane and McDaniel are starters on the interior defensive line, with Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, a pair of 2013 draft picks also pushing for playing time.
“We always have cherished the big guys,” Carroll said. “There was a spot we thought of for Kevin. We talked to him for a really long time.”
Williams’ appeal was not just for his physical skills. Carroll saw him as a good fit in the locker room, too, as a veteran leader.
“We have tremendous respect for the person he is, the competitor he is, the leader he is. He just brings a tremendous amount to our club,” Carroll said.
After he considered the situation, the chance to play a little less would “maximize the ability I have,” said Williams, adding he’s mostly seeing action on “first- and second-down stuff right now, until I get acclimated to what we’re doing, and if I play well enough I’ll earn some nickel stuff.”
The Vikings have been inconsistent in recent years, he said, whereas Seattle seemed to have so much to offer to a free agent.
“This is a great group of young guys that’s doing stuff right and winning in Seattle,” Williams said. “I just thought it was the best fit for me.”
Williams said he was definitely swayed by Carroll’s recruiting pitch.
“He was just constantly telling me how (much) I could help them and he wanted me onboard,” Williams said. “You know Coach Carroll; he’s an exciting guy all the time, and you just want to be around it. It’s just exciting to be around football and see guys having fun.”
And about trying to track down Wilson?
“It’s real annoying,” he said. “But I’m glad to be on his side.”firstname.lastname@example.org