News & Notes: Seattle's Connections to Vick

He coached Michael Vick for three seasons while serving as the head man for the Atlanta Falcons, but current Seahawks head coach Jim Mora remained silent on the possible return of his former quarterback to the NFL.

Seattle team officials declined to make Mora available to the media on Thursday after organized team activities were completed that day. Several national media outlets have speculated that Seattle could be a possible destination for Vick if the league decides to reinstate the shamed quarterback, after serving out the final two months of his 23-month sentence for running a dog fighting ring at his Virginia home.

Mora's silence did nothing to curb that speculation on Thursday.

Vick's ties to Seattle are obvious. He was a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons during Mora's tenure there. Seahawks team president and general manager Tim Ruskell and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp also both worked in Atlanta during Vick's time with the Falcons. Knapp did talk with reporters after practice, but refused to answer questions about Vick's possible return because he said Vick's still under contract with the Falcons.

"I'm in a position where I can't talk about it right now," Knapp said. "He hasn't been reinstated. He's still in the possession of the Atlanta Falcons right now so I really can't have any comment until that transpires."

But Knapp did talk about Vick's performance during his time as a coach in Atlanta. "He did a fine job in Atlanta," Knapp said. "Our first year there when Jim and I were there he helped us get to the NFC championship game and provided a great dimension for a run/pass quarterback, so he did a lot of nice things for us."

Seahawks running back T.J. Duckett, a teammate of Vick's while in Atlanta also was unwilling to elaborate on Vick's NFL future. "I'm not going to comment on Michael Vick," Duckett said. "Just because it's a long time ago and there's really no reason to keep rehashing the subject. It happened and we're moving forward."

However, Vick's former teammate Justin Griffith, who recently joined the Seahawks, was more than happy to talk about electric performer. The Seattle fullback played for the Falcons from 2003 to 2006, and hopes Vick can return to the NFL. "I think it's great," Griffith said about Vick's release from a federal prison on Wednesday. "He served his time, and now he needs to get back out there and start playing again. The guy is a great athlete, and I think the NFL is missing an athlete like that right now.

"You don't see the stuff that he used to do -- we don't see that anymore. So hopefully he can get back there, get into shape and someone will give him a shot, and hopefully he'll be the same Michael Vick we used to love all the time."

--Bryan Pittman, recently signed to compete for the long snapper position for the Seahawks, is thankful for a second chance to redeem himself. "I just wanted a team to step up and give me an opportunity," he said. "Because I know I'm still one of the best at this position, and I'm glad I'm here to prove that."

The six-year pro tested positive for a diuretic included in the league's list of banned substances during the Houston Texans' 2008 training camp and was suspended for four games last season, eventually losing his job as the long snapper. Pittman, who at a doughy, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds looks like the last person you would expect taking performance-enhancing drugs, said he took the substance in order to make weight and knew he had to test the next day, but was not aware the substance he took was on the NFL's list of banned substance.

"I looked at the banned substance list, and of course I don't know half the crap that's on there, no one does," Pittman said. "But we're responsible for what we put in our bodies, and that's ultimately what led to the hearing and my appeal. Even though the league doctors told the hearing officer that there was nothing else in my system, the diuretic did not dilute the specimen, and I wasn't taking anything, they still suspended me."

Now, after a nightmarish year dealing with the fallout of testing positive, the Seattle-area native and University of Washington graduate finds himself playing for his hometown team, and hopes to retire as a Seahawk. "It was just a horrific year for me," he said. "And I'm just glad to be here now with this team, being able to move forward and move on from it."

Seattle believes the 32-year-old Pittman is the long-term answer at long snapper after trying for years to find a replacement for the departed J.P. Darche, whom Seattle released after he suffered a hip injury in February 2007. The Seahawks drafted Tyler Schmitt in the sixth round last year as the team's future long snapper, but back issues during training camp landed him on the injured reserve.

Schmitt was attempting a comeback during the offseason and said he felt OK, but the team cut him heading into Seattle's post-draft camp in May.
Seattle coaxed 39-year-old Jeff Robinson out of retirement last season, and Robinson performed well in that role, but did not want to return for another season.
Pittman will compete for the starting job with free agent pickup Ryan Senser.

NOTES, QUOTES

--FB Justin Griffith practiced for the first time since joining the Seahawks this offseason. Griffith only went through individual drills and did not work with the offense during team drills, but he said his surgically repaired right knee feels fine. Griffith knows Seattle's offense well, having played for offensive coordinator Greg Knapp both in Atlanta and Oakland. He's expected to compete for the starting fullback job with second-year player Owen Schmitt.

"I don't feel like I'm losing anything," said Griffith about sitting on the sidelines. "I don't feel like I'm behind at all. As a matter of fact, I feel like I'm going to help some young guys learn the system a lot better, too, just trying to get the offensive concepts down right now. That's what you have to learn right now, the concepts."

--OT Walter Jones ran wind sprints at the end of practice for the first time this offseason on Thursday. Jones is expected to return in time for training camp from microfracture knee surgery. "I'm feeling good," Jones told a Seattle-area radio station. "I'm going through rehab right now trying to get back. But from that standpoint I'm feeling good. I'm on track with everything that's going on."

--Linebacker D.D. Lewis is out until training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. To bulk up the numbers at linebacker, Seattle signed former Georgia and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Tony Taylor. This was first reported by NWFootball,net's own Brian McIntyre.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Yeah, I would say everything's in. I hope everything's in. The book is so thick. I think what we're trying to do now is just really install everything, see what works, see what fits the personnel, and Greg Knapp's kind of going 100 miles an hour teaching it, coaching it. We're just trying to learn it, practice it, get so it feels just like second nature." -- Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck commenting on the installation of the team's new offense.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Leroy Hill: Tendered at 8.304M (tender withdrawn April 25; re-signed April 30).

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--QB Charlie Frye.
--LB Wesley Mallard.
--C Steve McKinney.
--LS Jeff Robinson.
--WR Koren Robinson.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
--LB Leroy Hill: UFA; $38M/6 yrs, $15.5M guaranteed.
--CB Kevin Hobbs: Potential ERFA; $460,000/ 1 yr).
--WR Jordan Kent: Potential ERFA; $460,000/ 1 yr).
--LB Lance Laury: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB D.D. Lewis: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Ben Obomanu: ERFA; tendered at $460,000; terms unknown.
--WR Courtney Taylor: ERFA; tendered at $460,000; terms unknown.
--S C.J. Wallace: Potential ERFA; $460,000/ 1 yr).
--OT Ray Willis: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--DT Colin Cole: UFA Packers; $21.4M/5 yrs, $6M guaranteed.
--FB Justin Griffith: FA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh: UFA Bengals; $40M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--FB David Kirtman: FA; terms unknown.
--CB Ken Lucas; FA Panthers; $2.3M/1 yr.
--TE John Owens: UFA Lions; terms unknown.
--LS Bryan Pittman: UFA Texans; terms unknown.
--DT Cory Redding (trade Lions).

PLAYERS LOST
--DT Rocky Bernard: UFA Giants; $16M/4 yrs, guarantee unknown.
--WR Bobby Engram: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--OG Chris Gray: UFA; retired.
--DT Howard Green: UFA Jets; $625,000/1 yr, guarantees unknown.
--TE Will Heller: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Maurice Morris: UFA Lions; $7M/3 yrs, SB unknown.
--LB Julian Peterson (traded Lions).
--FB Leonard Weaver: UFA Eagles; $1.75M/1 yr.
--OT Floyd Womack: UFA Browns; terms unknown.

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