On a Seattle Seahawks roster noted for the presence of players obsessed with preparation, second-year linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis fits in well.
One staffer noted that “KPL” shows up for walk-through practices with his mouthpiece in place, cleats laced tight and gloves taped on. He is one to whom the question “Are you ready for some football?” never has been asked.
Whether it’s a non-contact walk-through or during the kind of extra work that extended half an hour after practice Monday, Pierre-Louis is all about the preparation, the study — putting in the work.
Immediately after practice, it was picking the brain of All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman on the finer points of coverage. Then it was drilling with former Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu, a three-time Pro Bowl player now coaching linebackers.
“The resources are here, I’ve got to take advantage of them,” Pierre-Louis said. “Sherm is one of the best, if not the best, cover guys in the whole NFL, why not ask him questions? I’ve got no ego; if I see somebody who does something well, I’m going to ask them how they do it. It’s something I can learn from.”
Being a sponge for information is working for Pierre-Louis, as coach Pete Carroll specifically pinpointed him when asked about Seahawks players having outstanding preseasons. It’s all earning Pierre-Louis more time on the field as a backup linebacker and versatile special-teams performer.
Carroll loved what he saw out of Pierre-Louis, a four-year starter at Boston College, who was the fastest linebacker in his class at the scouting combine (4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash), and also one of the most explosive with a 39-inch vertical jump.
Sometimes the fast linebackers get to the ball quickly but don’t finish convincingly. Pierre-Louis, though, arrives with violent intent.
His rookie season ended on the injured-reserve list after a shoulder injury in November required surgery. He had started 44 games in college, and suddenly, as a rookie reserve, he found himself removed from his team.
His response to the injury provides a view inside Pierre-Louis’ optimistic perspective. It was an experience to learn from, he said, and he was glad it happened his rookie season, a time when he could best watch and learn.
“I’ve made strides from last year, but I set my own standards and I need to keep working toward those standards going forward,” he said. “Confidence is the biggest difference. I know I can run, but now, what else can I learn? You have to work on a lot of things to be a complete linebacker. You have guys like Bobby (Wagner), K.J. (Wright) and Bruce (Irvin) who do so many things well, and that’s why they’re the caliber of player they are.”
Pierre-Louis was an academic achiever who also was recruited by Stanford, Duke and Virginia. The dedicated studies were an extension of the family work ethic, he said, which his parents developed growing up in Haiti.
“(Haitians) have a very strong culture,” he said. “We’re a culture that works hard; anybody who knows Haitians knows they work hard and they love their families and are always working to be better.”
Pierre-Louis grew up in Connecticut, but his family was touched by the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti. “There were no deaths in my family, fortunately, but a lot of houses were destroyed.”
The extended family, Pierre-Louis explained, is well-off, with a number of business concerns.
“They took a hit, but they’re getting back on their feet,” he said. “What we’re doing as a family is giving back to the community, doing drives to give out food, clothes and school supplies. We’re doing a lot to try to help.”
On a team with strong and varied personalities, Pierre-Louis has created his own identity.
“I’m a guy who’s pretty serious,” he said. “My teammates might tell me to loosen up a little bit, but I enjoy having fun. It all depends on when you catch me, because when I’m in meetings or when I step onto the field, I’m pretty locked in.”