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The first call Fred Jackson got after the one from the Buffalo Bills last week telling him they were releasing their longtime lead back came from one of his best friends.
That’s partly why Jackson was running many plays with the starting offense today in his first practice with the Seahawks here in Renton.
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“Soon as I got released I got on the phone with him and said, ‘I just got released,’” Jackson said of Lynch, his former partner in Buffalo’s backfield from 2007 until the Bills traded Lynch to Seattle during the 2010 season.
Jackson told Lynch, now the Seahawks’ lead back and NFL rushing leader since 2011, last week: “I wouldn’t mind if you put a bug in the coach’s or the GM’s ear (in Seattle) and let them know if I can I’d like to come out there and play.”
“And he did that for me,” the 34-year-old Jackson said Monday, a week to the day after he said his release from the Bills because they had a new lead back in LeSean McCoy surprised him. “It was one of the things as soon as I hit that waiver wire I got that phone call. I think he has a lot to do with me being here.
“This is the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed that Lynch did indeed lobby for his pal. That was one factor. But another one was the fact the Seahawks wanted to add a proven featured back that had 66 catches last season to an offense that intends to throw the ball more this season with new tight end Jimmy Graham and lessen Lynch’s league-high running load the last few seasons.
Carroll said Jackson already has a working knowledge of the entire playbook despite having only signed his one-year deal on Sunday -- “don’t know how,” the coach added. Carroll said Jackson is not only going to play in Sunday’s opener at St. Louis, he’s going to play “a lot.”
Likely most of that work will come on third downs, on which the Seahawks can have Jackson do his specialty of catching screen passes, pass protecting or even splitting out as a wide receiver. Jackson said he took pride in Buffalo in being able to play all over formations in the passing game, and believes that’s one reason he’s been able to preserve himself to produce as he has at an age most running backs are either retired or should be.
“It was something that I took to heart that I wanted to be able to line up in different positions and contribute that way,” he said. “I think that’s one of the things that’s allowed me to play so long, is doing a bunch of different things -- and trying to do them well. Like pass protect. There are a lot of running backs in the league that are gifted runners. Not all of them want to pass protect or run routes out of the backfield, and that’s something I took to heart and wanted to get done. And it’s allowed me to have a long career now.”
Jackson has four children, ages 8, 6, 5 and 2. Mason, his youngest and one of three sons, was pictured next to him inside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Sunday doodling his own “contract” in orange marker while dad signed his Seahawks contract in ink.
Jackson said he considers the 29-year-old Lynch his fifth kid. He said even after Lynch left Buffalo in 2010 they’ve spoken on the phone three or four times a week.
“Now I’m here with him,” Jackson said. “He’ll be at my house playing with my kids, and I will treat him like he’s one of them. He’s definitely going to be that guy that I put my arm around and treat just like a little brother.
“He’s a big kid. We all know that. And I consider myself a big kid. That’s why we’ve been able to get along so well over the years ... we like to enjoy life and have fun with it.”
Lynch wasn’t here at practice to have fun with Jackson on Monday. Carroll said Lynch was away to deal with “some personal matters today that he had to take care of.”
NO THANKS ON TRADE INQURIES FOR KAM CHANCELLOR
This is the 39th day of Kam Chancellor’s holdout, with no end in sight. Carroll said some teams have called the Seahawks asking about the possibility of being able to trade for the three-time Pro Bowl strong safety, but the Seahawks are in no way interested in trading their team leader to solve their impasse with him.
“There have been a couple phone calls from other teams, people just kind of wondering what’s going on,” Carroll said. “We are really not interested in talking to them about that. So we don’t.”
Carroll added there’s nothing new in Chancellor’s and the team’s dug-in stances.
Carroll said “we’re ready to start Dion” Bailey, a 2014 practice-squad player, at strong safety Sunday in place of Chancellor.
The coach added Kelcie McCray, acquired in a trade with Kansas City on Saturday for a fifth-round draft pick, can play free and strong safety. The fourth-year man provides more experience than Bailey but Carroll said McCray may not be able to internalize enough of the playbook by Sunday to play a lot at St. Louis.
▪ Tarvaris Jackson did some throwing during practice without a helmet on. Carroll said the No. 2 quarterback will try to do more on his three-week-old sprained ankle during practice Wednesday. The team expects him to be ready to backup Russell Wilson on Sunday against the Rams.
▪ Carroll said third tight end Cooper Helfet has a chance to play Sunday after a knee injury. Reserve linebacker and special-teams player Mike Morgan probably will miss the game with a hamstring injury. Other than that, the team is healthy for the opener.