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

July 31, 2010 at 7:41 PM

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Leroy Hill buried on Seattle's depth chart

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Leroy Hill was on the field for the first day of Seahawks' training camp. You just wouldn't always be able to tell given his repetitions during practice.

He's not working with the first-unit defense. David Hawthorne remains the weakside linebacker for the first unit as he has so much of this offseason.

And when Lofa Tatupu was given some plays off during the evening practice, Hawthorne slid over to the middle linebacker spot and Will Herring came in to play the weakside linebacker position.

Now, maybe it's that 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 it is also possible that Hill is an afterthought at this point. Hill is still facing a misdemeanor assault charge in Issaquah, the possibility that he may be disciplined by the league because of that incident and the possibility that could effect his contractual guarantees with Seattle this season.

But first thing's first, the resolution of the case. Is that a distraction for Hill in the eyes of coach Pete Carroll?

"I don't think it's any question that it's a distraction for him," Carroll said. "It's something that he has to deal with to some extent, but he's working really hard. I think this is good for him to be here and taking care of his business, and then we'll see what happens. We don't know what the result of this is, and then we'll deal with it when we have the information."

That's a crucial component of this. Is there going to be another shoe to drop when it comes to Hill's future. He has started every game he has played since taking over for Jamie Sharper about halfway through 2005, Hill's rookie season. The fact that he's now below five other linebackers on Seattle's depth chart can't bode well for him.

The question of Hill's future was broached even before the draft when he wasn't present for the first three-day minicamp after his arrest after a domestic alternation.

Now, there is no way to say this without sounding insensitive at the very least and minimizing criminal behavior at the worst, but the fact Hill was absent was unusual.

Other players arrested for similar offenses were never held out of practice. That doesn't say it was right to let them keep practicing or that it was wrong to hold them out. It's only pointing out that Hill's absence was a departure from standard protocol.

Hill returned to the team in mid-June after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell.

Carroll indicated that there won't be any further review of Hill's status until after the resolution of the case in Issaquah. Hill is scheduled to attend a pre-trial 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."

Until then, it's worth watching to see if Hill moves up on the depth chart or remains working with the reserves.

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