BY Art Thiel 06:23PM 09/09/2015

Thiel: Seahawks’ fill-in for Kam all fired up

Dion Bailey, the undrafted free agent from USC who’s filling in for holdout Kam Chancellor, is full of confidence, telling the Rams to bring it on for his “coming-out party.”

Dion Bailey says the Legion of Boom is not about the personnel. / Seahawks.com

Dion Bailey was a guy so confident in his pro future that he left USC after his junior year. The fact that he went undrafted, and didn’t play at all in 2014, has not diminished the enthusiasm he has for his chances in his Seahawks debut as the highly scrutinized stand-in for SS Kam Chancellor, declared out of Sunday’s opener.

“I hope they plan to come at me,” said Bailey before practice Wednesday. “It’ll make my coming-out party lot more exciting.”

No one will argue the point. Whether it will be exciting for the homestanding Rams or the visiting Seahawks remains to be seen.

“The more opportunities my way, the more plays I’ll make,” he said. “If they plan to to come at me, I hope they’re ready for the possibilities I have planned.”

Well, hey. What else can a young man say upon threshold of fulfilling a dream of starting in the NFL? That he’s scared? That he’s unsure?

The Seahawks have no choice but to put Bailey out there. Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that even if Chancellor ended his holdout on the spot, he wouldn’t play him.

Asked whether that would change if Chancellor showed up Thursday, Carroll answered, “He’s not here right now, so he’s not playing.”

A story Wednesday afternoon from NFL Total Access TV show reporter Don Hellie said Chancellor texted him that he was willing to meet Seattle halfway and that less than $1 million separates the sides. Chancellor wrote than he seeks no new money but wants money allocated for 2017 moved to 2016. Hellie said Chancellor texted the word “petty” to describe the negotiations.

If true, the shifting of money represents an improvement in the contract, something the Seahawks have refused to do so early in the four-year deal because of the precedent it sets. So matters remain stalemated.

That brings the story back to Bailey, and the predictable cheerleading that is accompanying his ascension to the Legion of Boom Whom.

“Dion Bailey has had a great off season and camp with us,” said coach Pete Carroll. “He’s been in the position for quite a while with us. We feel very comfortable. He’s a playmaker, a very aggressive tackler. We’re going to count on him to do the things that he does well.

“We’ve had a long time getting ready with him, so we feel comfortable with that.”

CB Richard Sherman figures that Chancellor’s absence as well as his own and Earl Thomas’s resting to complete injury rehabs have given younger guys a shot in the preseason.

“Dion Bailey got his chance to develop some,” he said. “DeShawn Shead, Marcus Burley, Tye Smith, young guys got to see a lot more plays, see a lot more repetition with the first-team offenses.”

All well and good. The facts remain that Chancellor is 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, and Bailey is 6-0 and 211. Chancellor has four years of experience, Bailey none. Chancellor is the unquestioned spiritual leader of the defense and Bailey is a guy who has yet to attempt to bust up his first NFL screen pass.

Wednesday afternoon at practice offered up the perfect paradigm. TE Luke Willson ran a 10-yard out route and Bailey slid under him to cover. QB Russell Wilson’s sideline pass was delivered at a high point perfect for the 6-5 Wilson to grab and five inches above the flailing hands of Bailey.

A very small sample size, yes, but you can bet something like that is already scripted into the Rams’ first 15 plays.

Bailey, who was recruited to USC by Carroll out of Los Angeles, remains undaunted.

“My whole football career, the odds have been stacked against me,” he said. “People didn’t think I was as athletic as the next person. That’s why I was switched in college from safety  (where he was the Pac-12 defensive freshman of the year) to linebacker.

“There’s always a positive in every negative situation. If you focus on the negative, you’ll never see the positives. I try to find a way to make it work.”

Give the kid credit for attempting to will his way to success.

“A lot of people don’t understand that this secondary is not about the personnel,” he said. “It’s about the attitude and philosophy. The LOB (Legion of Boom) has no (jersey) numbers attached to it. You play fast and physical.

“I just plan to keep up the standard they’ve held.”

Noble words, given sincerely. He’ll have a grand opportunity Sunday to help demonstrate that LOB isn’t DOA.


YourThoughts

  • Matt712

    I don’t bet against UDFRs wearing blue & green anymore.

    • art thiel

      True, but the first year of starting is a trial, as Bailey and C Drew Nowak are about to find out.

  • jafabian

    I shake my head when I read that Kam thinks the Seahawks are being petty. I thought when the team worked out in Hawaii that they “cleared the air” and rededicated themselves to focus on the upcoming season. Then he holds out. What happened to that focus? I’m sure some players are thinking the same thing. About a million dollars separates the club and Kam right now. It would take more more than a decade to earn that. I imagine that’s why Kam is doing what he’s doing: to get as much as he can now. Sad that seems to be the most important thing to him. There should be more to a person than just money. No one remembers Joe Montana for his money.

    • art thiel

      Management wasn’t in Hawaii.

      I think Kam made a foolish mistake, but I do understand that players are scared for their health. They think their only hope is to get out before they go Junior Seau.

      • jafabian

        We’ve seen players recently, not many but a few, who have gotten out of the game early in their careers and that makes more sense to me than asking for more money if their health is their motivation. It’s warped to me to stay in the game but have fears of concussions. Kind of like being an MLB pitcher but putting limits on how much you’ll pitch. Even when the playoffs are around the corner.

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  • osoviejo

    Good read, as always Art. One note–pretty much everywhere you use the word “Thursday” you meant “Wednesday.”

    • art thiel

      I was about 50/50.
      Fixed. Thanks.

  • Aloha12

    It’s apparent to almost everyone that Kam has made a mistake and he probably wishes now he didn’t go down this road. That being said, he is underpaid if you compare his value to the team with what Thomas and Sherman make which is millions more. He has a greater impact than either of them (stats and eye test bear this out) and yet is paid substantially less. My guess is that is what is driving him to do this (that and a suspect agent). Kam needs to realize that that’s life – not fair. The timing if his contract extension turned out to be a year early; had he signed a year later he would have gotten the $ he now wants. When management gave him the extension, he was coming off a so so year, the deal he got was favorable to him but since then he’s become the best SS in the NFL and a huge part of the D and so wants to be paid accordingly. I see his point, but he should have waited another year before making these demands…one year on contract is too soon too pull this. A wise agent would have told him this.

    • eYeDEF

      What stats and eye test bear out he has a bigger impact? Surely you jest. He’s a force, no doubt. But Sherman shuts down one side of the field and it’s because of Earl’s ability to cover so much ground with his speed as the single high safety that allows Kam the latitude to play close to the box and freelance rather than be the 2nd safety required in coverage. Kam plays an important role, but I don’t see how you can say he has a bigger impact than Earl or Sherm. It’s close but no way is he above them.