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Originally published December 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified December 16, 2007 at 4:18 PM

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Hawks' Grant keeps the beat

Safeties with the skills to cover any receiver man-to-man are rare in the NFL. As if Deon Grant needed to stand out any more than he already...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

Seahawks @ Panthers,

10 a.m., Ch. 13

Safeties with the skills to cover any receiver man-to-man are rare in the NFL.

As if Deon Grant needed to stand out any more than he already does.

The Seahawks safety is a walking jukebox. Let's update that to boom box.

Grant thrives on music in the locker room, where his rap, rhythm and blues and gospel tunes thump from a portable stereo; and on the field, where Grant dances to what's playing over stadium loudspeakers while waiting for kickoffs or during a timeout.

He even grooves on the bench, no matter what the situation is. The Seahawks were clinging to a 24-19 lead over the St. Louis Rams in the fourth quarter a few weeks ago. There was Grant, with the game in the balance, strutting his stuff to rapper Soulja Boy's "Crank That Soulja Boy" for all of his teammates and the crowd to see.

"They love it," Grant said. "They love it because they know they're going to get 110 percent from me no matter what's going on. And they know when I got the music playing and doing that other stuff on the field, it's not an individual situation. I'm playing music that everybody likes in the locker room. Whatever they request I put it on."

The dancing gets the crowd going, especially at home.

"That just comes with me," Grant said. "Even if I'm down, you're still going to always see me nodding my head, regardless."

The music is infectious, and so is Grant's energy. Coach Mike Holmgren has no problem with Grant's tunes — he recently said he has no boom box rule, and only a loose noise-level policy, in the locker room — and the Seahawks are fine with it, too. Grant is a team leader who was voted a captain after just a few months with the Seahawks.

Brian Russell, Seattle's other starting safety, enjoys the sounds.

"He keeps it going in here, he keeps it loose, but he's intense and ready to go on game days," Russell said. "A lot of fun to play with."

Grant has fun playing. He's fifth on the Seahawks with 55 tackles, and he has three interceptions. But the statistics don't measure how important he has been. Grant and Russell have provided stability and solid play, and they have helped the Seahawks limit big plays. The Seahawks have faith in Grant to let him go one-on-one in coverage because Grant has done it well in the past.

"He had a great command of the secondary, and he had real good range out of the middle safety position and he caught the ball well," defensive coordinator John Marshall said. "We looked at him as a guy that can play an outstanding free safety."

Grant, though, is playing more strong safety than free. The positions are interchangeable in the Seahawks' defensive scheme.

"Deon has good instincts, understands angles, has good speed and has very good ball skills," Holmgren said. "If he goes up for it, there's a good chance he's going to catch it. You can't say that about every defensive back."

Case in point: Friday's practice. Grant made the play of the day when he tipped a ball to himself, tipped it again, and instead of giving up on it, diving to the turf to catch the ball for an interception.

Sunday, Grant will suit up against one of his former teams, the Carolina Panthers. He's remembered in Charlotte as a key part of the Panthers defense for four years.

"Deon played the game with a lot of energy, has good ball awareness, he's an excellent athlete," Panthers coach John Fox said. "He's kind of how you draw them up as a safety."

Grant may be high energy but he stays low-key about his play this season.

"I'm playing all right," said Grant, who wears No. 24. "I feel I can play a lot better now that I really got the camaraderie that I have with the guys. From here on out, you'll see a better person in '24.' "

New digs

The Seahawks players and coaches got their first look at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center's indoor and outdoor fields Friday before leaving for North Carolina.

The center is under construction and will be the new team headquarters when it opens in summer 2008.

Notes

• Former Seahawks CB Ken Lucas, now with Carolina, said playing his old team will be "just another game." Lucas signed with the Panthers in 2005 before the Seahawks' Super Bowl season and admitted he felt a little bad about leaving. "They pretty much got rid of all the, I guess, malcontents, quote, unquote," Lucas said.

• Holmgren said he plans to continue giving Floyd Womack playing time at left guard, alternating with starter Rob Sims.

• Russell sat out Friday's practice with a slight strain of his lower abdominal. Russell will be further evaluated, and his playing status will be determined before Sunday's game.

• DT Rocky Bernard (groin) also didn't practice but is expected to play.

• Game balls from Sunday's win went to CB Marcus Trufant on defense, RG Chris Gray on offense and RB Josh Scobey on special teams.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published Dec. 15, 2007, was corrected Dec. 16, 2007. A previous version of this story contained an error. Seahawks guard Rob Sims was incorrectly named Ron Sims in the original version of this story.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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