Older and wiser, Seahawks' Winfield can still play
"Oh no," Winfield said with a grin when asked if he's as fast now as he was early in his career. "Not at all. Playing in this league (14) years, a lot of bumps, a lot of bruises, you kind of slow down, but I'm still quick, I can still play."
The way Winfield sees it, what he's lost in quickness has been replaced by tons of experience. And after just a couple of weeks with his new team, Winfield already is showing a knack for getting himself in the right place at the right time, a step slow or not.
"He's very crafty out there," safety Kam Chancellor said. "Sometimes we see him break on routes and it's like he knew the route was coming. He's very experienced back there, and that comes with all of the years he's played."
That craftiness is what the Seahawks hope will make the league's best secondary even better. In Winfield, who turns 36 next month, the Seahawks are expecting an upgrade at their nickel corner spot, the role held by Marcus Trufant last season. And in the Seahawks, Winfield is hoping to find his first championship late in his career.
When the Vikings cut Winfield for salary cap reasons after the 2012 season -- he was due $7.25 million this year under his old contract -- they still tried hard to re-sign him. So, too, did Washington.
However, once Winfield found out the Seahawks were interested, he decided to leave Minnesota after nine years and three Pro Bowls in a Vikings uniform to join the team he believed had the best shot at a title.
"I knew Seattle had a great team," Winfield said after Tuesday's organized team activity workout. "I just want a chance to compete for a championship, and I thought my best place to go was here. ... Once I had an opportunity to look around, Seattle was my number one choice and we made it happen."
Joining a new team and hoping to make the most out of the latest chapter of his career, Winfield is attending voluntary workouts for the first time in years.
"During the last five years, the offseason program I didn't attend," he said. "I would do my own stuff. But coming to a new team I thought it would be wise to get familiar with everyone, being around the coaches, and just seeing how the Seahawks do things. I love it, I'm working hard and I'm getting better."
Despite being rather small by Seahawks secondary standards (5-foot-9, 180 pounds) Winfield comes to Seattle with a reputation as being one of the best run-defending corners in the NFL. Some of that has to do with Winfield's aforementioned ability to sniff out a play quickly, but it also has a lot to do with the attitude that helped him enjoy one of his most productive seasons in 2012 despite his advanced -- by NFL standards -- age. He made 101 tackles, intercepted three passes and had 12 passes defensed.
"It's a want to, with tackling it's a want to," Chancellor said. "You can't just go out there and lollygag; you'll get ran over or juked. You have to want to tackle and that's what Antoine wants to do. It's an attitude you have to have."
And the admiration amongst Seattle's defensive backs is mutual. Just as young players like Chancellor are impressed with Winfield's knowledge of the game, Winfield is equally impressed with the talent that surrounds him when he comes on the field with players like Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.
"I've played football a long time and they are very talented, all across the board," Winfield said. "Both corners, both safeties. By far they are the number one secondary in the league, and with the way they work I see why they're number one."
The Seahawks have signed a pair of rookies and parted ways with two more. They added defensive tackle Michael Brooks, who they claimed after Detroit waived him last week, and signed receiver Greg Herd, an undrafted rookie out of Eastern Washington University who first signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in April. Seattle waived receiver Matt Austin and guard Jordan Roussos, who were both signed earlier as undrafted free agents.
Herd, who is from Tacoma, is listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at his pro day. He caught 133 passes in his final two seasons at Eastern for 1,974 yards and 14 touchdowns. Brooks, who is listed at 6-3, 294, played at Eastern Carolina and was a second-team All-Conference USA selection as a senior.
Also, tight end Anthony McCoy cleared waivers and now reverts to Seattle's injured reserve list. The Seahawks waived/injured McCoy Tuesday, which is the necessary procedure in the offseason to get a player onto injured reserve. McCoy tore his Achilles last week during organized team activities.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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