NFL: Smiling, slimmer White reunites with Carroll
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. — A year ago, LenDale White was trying to shed some of his 250 pounds.
The 6-foot-1 running back lost 30 pounds getting ready for the Tennessee Titans' 2009 season by giving up tequila.
After one season on Tennessee's bench and a trade to Seattle, White is relishing a fresh start.
The 25-year-old former college star for new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll while at USC is smiling and looking even more fit than the 225 pounds he says he is.
"My prayers were answered," White said after minicamp practice on Friday, the first day of his second NFL life with the Seahawks.
He's slithering through linemen and into pass routes. He's smiling through running plays and interviews.
No wonder he's grinning. He's reunited with Carroll, with whom he won two national championships at USC only a few years ago.
"PC's my guy!" White declared, smiling again.
"I feel great, man. It's a long time coming. I've been through situations. Everyone knows my past — 'Out of shape LenDale, this and that.' But for me to come here in shape, 225, feeling good ... it's the best I've felt in my career."
And what about that new diet?
"Same diet," he said, before laughing. "Where was that diet? That was a year ago. I don't do that no more. You all going to get me in trouble man, already."
Trouble's brewing, all right. Just not for White — for a change.
Carroll also acquired former New York Jets running back Leon Washington in another draft day trade last weekend. White and Washington are joining Julius Jones, the former lead runner with Dallas, and Justin Forsett in a crowded tailback competition.
There's also Quinton Ganther, acquired as a free agent this winter from Washington, plus third-year veteran Louis Rankin.
The half-dozen running backs exemplify Carroll's mantra of "competition, competition, competition!" His plan to rebuild a team that's gone 9-23 the past two seasons is by having veterans and rookies battle for starting jobs at every position on the field.
Is there room for every running back in Seattle?
"Probably not," Jones said.
He seems to be the most vulnerable. Since he rushed for a career-high 1,084 yards for the Cowboys in 2006, the 28-year-old Jones has had a career-low 558 yards rushing while losing his job in Dallas, then just 698 and 663 yards rushing in his two seasons with Seattle.
By the end of last season, Forsett, a seventh-round pick in 2008, had supplanted Jones as the preferred back of then-coach Jim Mora.
So is this new, crowded system of Carroll's and new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates better suited for Jones?
"All I need is an opportunity, man," Jones said. "Doesn't matter what the system is."
He sounds like he's received the message sent by the acquisitions of White and Washington.
"Yeah, if you are scared of competition, you shouldn't be playing this game," Jones said. "And competition is what we're going to have."
Washington's entry will be delayed. He's only six months removed from a compound fracture in his right leg. He said the goal is to be back on the field for the start of training camp in late July. A stabilizing rod will remain in the leg.
The 2008 All-Pro with the Jets said he is invigorated by the competition — and by Carroll. That's saying something, since Washington just left a playoff team in New York for a recently flopping one in Seattle.
"I talked to coach Carroll in the hallway today and said, 'Coach, I'm stoked!"' Washington said after watching practice. "I'm so excited. You can feel the energy in the building, in the meetings."
He's can't be as stoked as White.
White said Carroll called him at 8 a.m. Central time last weekend — 6 a.m. in Seattle — to tell him "You're a Seahawk!" That meant no more backing up 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson.
"I'm out of Tennessee. I'm happy to be a Seattle Seahawk," he said. "This is obviously where I needed to be, where I was supposed to be. Obviously, I wanted a different situation and a different start. And it came to light."
So this running back derby isn't about to faze the man who set a USC record with 52 rushing touchdowns for Carroll through the 2005 season.
"I've come here to start. I didn't come here to sit the bench no more," White said. "I'm going to do everything I can, in my power, to win football games and to start.
"I hope the other guys are ready."