Chancellor taking over in Seattle's secondary
Throughout most of last season, wherever Lawyer Milloy went, Kam Chancellor was attached.
It was part of Chancellor's education, required when Seattle took a chance on him as a fifth-round pick from Virginia Tech in the hopes his size and raw skills could help him develop into a potential NFL safety.
So for nearly all of last season, Milloy had a 6-foot-3, 230-pound shadow.
Answering the question of whether that education took hold will begin on Sunday when Seattle opens the season at San Francisco. Chancellor and free safety Earl Thomas combine to form one of the youngest safety duos around - Chancellor is just 23, while Thomas is 22.
It can be a difficult position being so young and yet so responsible for organizing the defense and getting veterans to listen. But Thomas and Chancellor were schooled by one of the best in Milloy.
''I'm a guy that leads by example so I think if I'm doing the right thing and playing right, doing everything right, a guy will want to follow that,'' Chancellor said. ''(It's) just like I did following Lawyer, so I think it isn't hard at all.''
In no way is Chancellor a prototypical strong safety. He has the size of a linebacker along with the background of a cornerback, having started his career at Virginia Tech originally as quarterback. He also played cornerback and rover before finally settling in at safety.
But the experience he got during his rookie season was limited with Milloy staying healthy and playing well. Chancellor played in all 16 games, mostly on special teams, but occasionally got some time as an extra defensive back in nickel and dime packages.
Because of his lack of playing time, it seemed likely Seattle would add a veteran presence to its defensive backfield when the lockout was lifted. It almost immediately became clear that the Seahawks believed in Chancellor's ability to step in and take over Milloy's role.
Milloy even tweeted a message to Chancellor on the day training camp opened, ''Make me proud bro. It's your time!!''
''That's why I end up talking about it a lot for as little as he's done so far. I think as it is, until the guys really get out there and play, he's not going to exert himself,'' Carroll said of Chancellor. ''But once he does the things that he's been doing on the practice field and he complements Earl (Thomas) the way they play back there, I think he's just going to be a bigger factor.''
Carroll said he was impressed with hearing about Chancellor keeping in contact with players scattered all over the country during the lockout and reaching out to some of Seattle's younger draft picks.
It was another one of the lessons taught by Milloy, who made a point of reaching out to Thomas and Chancellor within the first days they had arrived in Seattle before the 2010 season.
Of course, now Chancellor has to bring what Carroll's seen in practice to the field. And his first test is hefty, trying to keep an eye on San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis while trying to figure out what the 49ers are running under new coach Jim Harbaugh.
Thomas started right from the beginning last year. He doesn't worry about Sunday being Chancellor's first NFL start.
''Kam got a little taste of what it felt like last year so I don't think it's that new to him,'' Thomas said. ''The talking that goes on between me and him is mostly the scheme, making sure we're on the same page.''
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