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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

January 26, 2010 at 7:09 PM

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Ken Norton Jr. goes back to the future with Lofa Tatupu

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Ken Norton Jr. hasn't coached in the NFL. He has prepared a number of linebackers who excelled in the NFL, most recently Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews who were two of the league's top rookies in 2009.

Lofa Tatupu also played for Norton at USC, and Seattle's new linebackers coach is excited about the reunion.

"Lofa has always been a very special guy to my heart," Norton said. "He was a guy I coached at USC, one of my first years at coaching. It was unfortunate to see him go down last year with the injury, but I'm expecting him to get this defense back to where it was before."

Linebacker has been considered a strength in Seattle for the last few years, but the group struggled with injuries last season. Tatupu suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the sixth game of the season and missed the rest of the year. Leroy Hill suffered a groin injury that kept him out five games and Aaron Curry missed the final two games because of a shoulder injury.

What are Norton's impressions of the group he inherits?

"Really impressed," he said. "They're fast, strong, do all the things that you expect linebackers to do. They're excited, they hit people and they're head-busters. We like head-busters."

Norton was caught in the midst of a wardrobe transition on Thursday, watching the Senior Bowl practices with a Seahawks cap and a USC windbreaker.

Norton coached at USC for six seasons, joining the staff as a graduate assistant in 2004 -- Tatupu's final season as a Trojan. Norton was promoted to linebackers coach the following season.

Was the decision to leave college coaching a hard one?

"If it were some place other than Seattle," Norton said, "But Seattle is terrific. It's beautiful. Lofa is there. [Steve] Sarkisian is close so we've got an influx of Trojans. Any place other than Seattle or San Francisco, I might have a problem with, but I'm really excited to be there. I've heard fans out there are really into their Seahawks so I'm really looking forward to that 12th Man."

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