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Originally published August 1, 2010 at 6:26 PM | Page modified August 1, 2010 at 10:20 PM

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Leroy Hill's status with Seahawks could be in limbo

Already suspended one game for violating the NFL's policy on substance abuse, the Seahawks linebacker still faces a misdemeanor assault charge in Issaquah

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Leroy Hill was on the field for the beginning of Seattle's training camp. You just wouldn't know it from looking at the first-unit defense over the first two days of practice.

David Hawthorne is playing weakside linebacker with the starters, filling the spot that Hill has held since midway through his rookie year in 2005.

Right now, Hill's not even on deck. Will Herring has been the first reserve linebacker substituted into the first-unit defense. Hill is in the second-unit window.

Maybe Seattle is preparing itself for the reality that it will face in the season opener as Hill has already been suspended for that game for violating the league's policy on substance abuse. But maybe, it's also a sign Hill is an afterthought for the Seahawks at this point just one year after the team designated him their franchise player and then subsequently signed him to a long-term contract.

Is Hill part of Seattle's plan for the future? His absence for most of this offseason and his place on the depth chart make it a legitimate question.

Hill is still facing a misdemeanor assault charge in Issaquah, which stemmed from his April arrest after an altercation with his live-in girlfriend. The outcome of that case will have a trickle-down effect not only with regard to further discipline from the league, but because Hill is on active probation in Georgia after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug possession earlier this year. That case is what triggered the one-game suspension already levied against Hill.

The ongoing case leaves Hill in a little bit of limbo.

"We don't know what the result of this is," coach Pete Carroll said, "and then we'll deal with it when we have the information."

Hill has started every game he has played since taking over for Jamie Sharper about halfway through 2005, Hill's rookie season. Now, he's in the second tier of Seattle's depth chart at linebacker.

Not that he's complaining.

"I understand where I'm at," Hill said after Sunday's practice. "Like I said before when I came to minicamp, I'm treating myself like a rookie. If I was with the third team, I would be going just as hard."

That's never been an issue for Hill. He checked in for training camp at 241 pounds, a player known for his open-field speed and powerful hits. On Saturday evening, Hill popped fullback Ryan Powdrell hard in the backfield, a collision that forced the running back to cut earlier than expected.

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Hill was interviewed with the provision the questions be confined to football, not dealing with his arrest or prosecution on the assault charge. His next appearance is scheduled for Aug. 20, a hearing to see if both sides are ready for a trial, which could begin the following week. The prosecutor in the case and police are investigating whether a no-contact order between Hill and the alleged victim was violated.

Hill remained absent from the team's workouts for almost the entire offseason. Carroll and general manager John Schneider said the team was awaiting guidance from the league regarding the matter. Hill returned to the team in mid-June after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell.

Hill is scheduled to attend a pretrial hearing on Aug. 20 at Issaquah Municipal Court with a trial possibly beginning the following week.

"We know nothing more than we knew since the last issue, the resolution," Carroll said, a reference to Hill's one-game suspension for the season opener. "We'll just have to wait it out and see. In the meantime, he's going to get his work done, and we'll find out where it goes, and we'll deal with it when the time comes."

Hill was asked if his status on the second tier of the depth chart makes him concerned for his future with the team.

"All I can do is go out and play football while I'm here," Hill said. "I can't worry about off-the-field stuff. I can't worry about what guys upstairs think. All I can do is go play football right now, and enjoy the moment."

So, is he enjoying it?

"I'm enjoying it," he said. "It's football, man. It's what I love to do."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

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