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Notebook: Sharper penciled in at outside 'backer
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — Barring anything "dramatic" happening among the Seahawks' large group of linebackers, Jamie Sharper is going to start at outside linebacker when the season begins.
So said coach Mike Holmgren. Sharper, the most high-profile free agent the Seahawks signed this offseason, came over from the Houston Texans with the ability to play both inside and outside. His starting spot is one of few that are secure on the Seahawks' defense.
Beyond Sharper, the other outside linebacker and middle linebacker spots are up for grabs, with 10 other players expected to compete for spots in fierce training-camp competition.
Fourth-year player D.D. Lewis, originally an undrafted free agent, and second-year player Niko Koutouvides are holding down the two open starting positions for now. Lewis is an outside linebacker.
But the Seahawks signed Kevin Bentley from Cleveland in free agency to compete for a starting job. They drafted Lofa Tatupu in the second round with the idea that he will battle Koutouvides at middle linebacker. Isaiah Kacyvenski and Tracy White have plenty of experience, and Solomon Bates started three games in 2004. LeRoy Hill is a third-round pick this year who, based on draft position, stands a better chance of making the team than seventh-round pick Cornelius Wortham.
"That will be one of the stories of training camp, I think. Just how that comes down," Holmgren said of the linebacker situation. "You have guys we had last year who played a lot — Koutouvides, Kacyvenski and those guys, who can play. We drafted a couple guys, we signed Jamie, we signed Bentley. It's an interesting group. So what we are going to do is just throw the ball out there and let them compete and see who emerges, really."
When the rookies were practicing with the team last weekend, the second unit consisted of Tatupu in the middle and Kacyvenski and Hill on the outside. White and Bentley were with the third group, with Wortham in the middle.
But those combinations could change by the next minicamp in June, when the rookies return. In the end, the team will probably keep no more than seven linebackers when the roster is set in early September.
Fisher to practice?Defensive end Bryce Fisher, a Renton native who enters his fifth NFL season, could start doing some work on the field today.
Fisher, a former St. Louis Ram signed by the Seahawks in March, played on a sprained ankle last season and opted for surgery before joining the Seahawks. He said he will definitely be back at full strength for the team's June minicamp.
Fisher is being counted on to fill the pass-rushing void left by the departure of Chike Okeafor, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
• Of the 12 Seahawks who did not practice yesterday, the first day of the voluntary veterans camp, WR Darrell Jackson and TE Itula Mili were the only ones absent for reasons not pertaining to injury, a honeymoon or a contract situation.
• Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard is practicing, though he is the Seahawks' only restricted free agent who has not signed his one-year tender. Bernard signed a medical-clearance waiver to participate.
• SS Terreal Bierria made his minicamp debut yesterday. He was away from the team to attend a funeral last weekend.
• The Seahawks signed S Junior Rosegreen, an undrafted free agent from Auburn, after his extended tryout over the weekend.
• After practice today, the Seahawks will attend a private advance screening of "The Longest Yard," a soon-to-be-released remake of the 1974 movie.
Josť Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company