Gray's New Role Part of Larger Line Changes

Gray's New Role Part of Larger Line Changes

Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Chris Gray, who holds the club record with 121 consecutive starts at either center or right guard, said he considered retirement after last season. But coach Mike Holmgren asked the 15-year NFL veteran to come back in a reduced role.

"You always think about retirement," Gray said. "You just have to make sure you are ready to come back in and give it all the work and effort that goes into the whole season. It is not something you take lightly. You have to put in the work, and it is tough both mentally and physically. I just felt like I have a little bit left. I am not quite ready to hang it up."

Because starting center Chris Spencer had offseason surgery on both his thumb and shoulder, Gray has been the starting center during the team's May minicamp -- and likely will fill the same role when the Seahawks hold two June minicamps.

However, in the regular season, he is likely to serve as Spencer's backup, as well as the backup to right guard Rob Sims, who takes over for Gray.

Unhappy with the line's play last season, the Seahawks acquired Mike Wahle after he was released by the Carolina Panthers. Wahle was immediately handed the starting left guard spot, which means that Sims moves to the right side.

Sims said he was initially upset about the move because he felt he had done enough last season to warrant keeping the job. But now he said he accepts the move as a new challenge, one that will require him to learn new techniques but should only add to his versatility.

Gray was in a battle last season with second-year guard Ray Willis for the starting right guard spot, and he said he did not want to lose his starting position. Now, he sounds like a wise old veteran in the last year of his contract who has accepted his role as younger players step in.

"They are moving some guys around," Gray said. "I am the old guy, obviously, if I start I start, if I don't that is fine with me too. I just want to be a part of something special, and I think we can accomplish that."

NOTES, QUOTES

--New offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Mike DeBord have never worked together. Solari was brought in because he is familiar with the West Coast offense from his days in San Francisco, while DeBord worked under Michigan coach Lloyd Carr for a long time, and Carr recommended DeBord to Mike Holmgren.

--Despite being recently released by the Seahawks, running back Shaun Alexander donated money to three Seattle-area charities. Alexander, the 2005 MVP, has yet to sign with another team.

--Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, arrested recently for a DUI, still has not been charged by the Prosecutor's Office.

--The Seahawks have two June minicamps, one from June 2-5 and another from June 9-12. There is a chance that wide receiver Bobby Engram skips the camps to protest what he feels is an unfair contract. Engram skipped the team's voluntary camp in May.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I want to be a team guy. At first I was a little upset. But this is the NFL, that is kind of how it goes. So you move over and suck it up and just go out here and learn as much as you can. In the end it is just playing football. You can't be upset about it." -- Right guard Rob Sims, who lost his starting left guard spot when the team signed Mike Wahle.

 

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