Rookie safety Mark LeGree isn't optimistic about his chance to make the Seahawks final roster. (AP Photo)
By Liz Mathews
It's hard to not like Mark LeGree.
"He's intelligent, he's sharp, he's humble," said ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton after speaking with LeGree for the very first time in May.
The rookie free safety out of Appalachian State was selected by the Seahawks in the fifth round of this year's draft. After logging 22 career interceptions as a three-time All-American in college, LeGree may not find himself on the Seahawks' final roster.
"It's not going as great as I thought it would be," LeGree explained of his training camp experience. "But I'm still out here fighting, trying to make the most of my opportunities and earn a spot on this roster."
LeGree feels he hasn't been performing that well, given the high expectations of both himself and the team.
"When I first came in, I was on the first team nickel, and then I just slowly started moving down the depth chart. And with the signing of Atari Bigby, I just moved to third string.
"I can see it, it's obvious," continued LeGree, who hasn't specifically been notified that his job is in jeopardy. "The coaches have reached to me for support and told me to just keep working hard. And I know that whatever happens is going to happen. I've just got to make the most of this opportunity.
"Not many guys get this chance, so I'm going to be working hard every day."
Like the rest of the rookies around the league, LeGree is a prime example of a player who could have benefited immensely from the regularly scheduled offseason activities. While the lockout was in place, LeGree missed team meetings, lessons and OTA's - essential for any rookie entering the NFL. But unfortunately for LeGree, he may very well be a tragedy of the extended labor negotiations.
"I'm definitely hurting for that," said LeGree. "Safety is a tough position, you have to know a lot, it's similar to the quarterback of the defense. I could have definitely used the time and went over all the playbook during those OTA's and would have done it again at the beginning of camp.
"But now, I only had one chance to do it and I'm definitely hurting from it."
With initial cuts down to 80 players on Aug. 30 and the final 53-man roster to be determined by September 3, LeGree is not focusing on the what-ifs, but rather, on being the best player he can be.
"He's working at it, he's got a lot to learn to try and catch up," said Pete Carroll on Thursday after practice. "He's getting some good playing time here in the next couple weeks. He's got plenty of skill on the back end covering the passes and stuff - he was a premiere pass coverage guy with a bunch of picks when he was in college. He has done that so far here, so it'll be nice to see him fit it all together."
While this season ranks nowhere near last year's flurry of roster turnover and personnel transactions, job security remains a very realistic concern.
"There's always guys coming in and out," said LeGree. "There's been guys cut on game day and guys just flying in and playing the next day. It's crazy. Nobody is safe. You just have to be on your toes and keep working hard every day."
Just one month into his professional career, it's clear LeGree already understands the harsh realities of the National Football League.
"You've just got to lay it out on the line," said LeGree. "I don't want to have any regrets, because I do want to make this team. I just want to make sure I give 100 percent. I wanted to come in and make an impact instantly, but every player has a different path to the NFL. I may just need the time to sit out and learn for a year.
"So who knows what will happen, still two more weeks, I'm just hoping for the best. I think they still have faith in me."