Bruce Irvin Rejoins Seahawks in 'Terrific Shape,' Could Potentially Play vs. Cardinals – Sports Illustrated

RENTON, Wash. – Dealing with multiple injuries in the backfield once again, the Seahawks took a flier on future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson last November, signing him to their practice squad in Week 13.
Though well past his prime at 36 years of age, Pete Carroll had long wanted to coach Peterson, one of the few top recruits he wasn't quite able to persuade to play at USC during his highly successful tenure with the program. Given the need in the backfield, he felt the former MVP could contribute in a reserve role while also providing invaluable leadership.
Ultimately, Peterson only played in one game for the Seahawks, rushing 11 times for 16 yards and scoring a touchdown before a neck injury landed him on injured reserve. But as Carroll hoped, he had a far greater impact off the field during his brief time with the organization, serving as a mentor for players such as Rashaad Penny, who credited "All Day" for helping him breakout late last season.
Dealing with similar, albeit not identical circumstances at outside linebacker in the present, Carroll hopes to see lightning strikes twice with the unexpected return of former first-round pick Bruce Irvin, who re-signed for a third stint with the franchise as a member of the practice squad on Tuesday.
"I don't think there's any doubt he will have some influence," Carroll said of Irvin's return prior to Wednesday's practice. "I'm really glad to have him back, I've always loved Bruce and what he brings, how hard he plays, how much he cares, and all the intensity and all that. I'm not asking him to come out here and give speeches and all that, as long as he breaks them down every once in a while we'll be in good shape. But he will have an effect. He's been around enough, he cares a tremendous amount about excellence and the style of play and playing tough."
Just like the banged-up running back group last season, the Seahawks currently have three outside linebackers on injured reserve, including veterans Daryl Johnson and Alton Robinson. While Carroll indicated the latter was close to returning, Johnson won't be eligible to return for at least three more weeks, leaving only Uchenna Nwosu, Darrell Taylor, and Boye Mafe active on the 53-man roster.
All three of those players, including Nwosu in his fifth NFL season, are 25 years old or younger. While Seattle remains excited about the upside of the group, Taylor lost his starting job two weeks ago due to poor play defending against the run and Mafe is learning in a trial by fire as a rookie, creating the need for another veteran voice such as Irvin to help show them the ropes.
But Carroll isn't viewing this as simply an opportunity to sign a respected veteran to serve a ceremonial coaching role. With Johnson's absence being felt after impressing early in the season and Robinson still sidelined, he believes the soon-to-be 35-year old Irvin can help "fill the void" for the Seahawks on the field as a rotational rusher who plays a physical brand of football, understands the game inside and out, and can still hunt down quarterbacks pinning his ears back as an upfield threat.
Helping matters, though he played in a 4-3 defense in his first four seasons with the team, Irvin won't be foreign to Seattle's new hybrid 3-4 defense. After a long recovery from a torn ACL suffered early in the 2020 season, he played in the same scheme last season for the Bears and defensive coordinator Sean Desai, who joined the Seahawks as an associate head coach this spring. That prior connection should help him make a seamless transition.
When asked about how he envisions Irvin helping the Seahawks in his third tour of duty in the Pacific Northwest, citing Nwosu in comparison, Carroll indicated they will grant the savvy veteran freedom off the edge to take advantage of his elite instincts and he's "anxious" to see how fits in.
"He's already been introduced to it and he's a good edge football player. It's what he's always been best at, so it fits really well with his makeup," Carroll explained. "We're gonna play him a lot and try to use his instincts like we do with Uchenna, where we really give him a lot of freedom, and see if he can make good choices at the right time to take shots and to do the things that can really make that position difficult."
After not participating in training camp for any team this summer, Irvin reported in "terrific shape" for his workout on Tuesday and Carroll didn't rule out the possibility he could play for Seattle as early as Sunday against Arizona. Considering his ample experience, he shouldn't have any issue quickly picking up the defense and carrying out his duties at a position natural for his talents.
With that said, football shape isn't the same as lifting/conditioning shape and Carroll cautioned that it may be smarter to give Irvin at least two weeks of practice to get his legs underneath him before throwing him into game action.
"We need to see what's going on. It would probably be better for him if we didn't [play him Sunday], but we'll see what happens as the week goes."
Regardless, Carroll expects the popular veteran to make a positive difference right away even if Irvin doesn't receive a game day elevation this weekend. If the Seahawks get their wish, his presence and wisdom will elevate the play of others around him such as Taylor and Mafe while also adding another quality all-around edge defender to the mix to bolster a struggling defense.
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