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Milloy starting, coaching, leading raw Seahawks secondary while reuniting with Carroll

Lawyer Milloy is shuffling to the side. He's waving his arms. He's grooving to the rap music that is blaring yet again during a Seahawks practice run by new coach Pete Carroll.

A minute later, the 36-year-old is on the sidelines tutoring rookie safety Earl Thomas while holding a play card in his hand. The 14th-overall draft pick and new $21 million man is currently starting next to Milloy on the last line of Seattle's defense.

A minute or so later, the closely shaven veteran of four Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls is ragging on 24-year-old fellow safety Jamar Adams about his bushy and unruly hair.

Calling Milloy just another defensive back on these Seahawks is like calling the high-fiving, music-playing, $30 million Carroll just another coach.

"There's a lot of guys who are like, 'Damn, how do you do it? How do you do it for 15 years? I'm already feeling the soreness now, and I've only been in the league four years, two years, whatever,'" Milloy said after Monday morning's practice.

Carroll let him mostly watch that, but the coach joked "we had to hide his shoulder pads."

From 1997-99, Carroll was struck by how intensely and how smartly Milloy played safety for him in New England. So when Carroll returned to the NFL in January, he called the free agent back for a 15th season.

"(I) had somewhat of a special relationship with him was he was very young," Carroll said Monday evening. "It's been a lasting impression. I had in the back of my mind he could be a great guy to help us transition a new program.

"When I finally watched his film and saw him knocking the fire out of people I kept thinking, 'He can't keep doing this ... he can't get up.' He wasn't only getting up, he was getting up and standing over guys and being all jacked up."

Already, Seattle's coach and his defensive backs are leaning on Lawyer — the self-described foster kid and product of nearby Tacoma's streets.

"He brings so much," Carroll says.

Milloy personifies the description quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has for Carroll: "old school, but new school."

How old school? Milloy was playing baseball for Tacoma's Lincoln High the month that Thomas was born in 1989.

"Oh, man. Here we go!" he joked with a big laugh later when reminded of that.

Thomas, who left Texas two years early, said he saddles up to Milloy because "I try to get around people who know what they talk about."

Adams hangs out with Milloy at local lunch spots, and at a basketball gym in Seattle's suburbs. He said Milloy is so old fashioned, he loves to step back behind picks and shoot 3-pointers. No drives inside for flashy passes or shots, like most of Adams' generation.

"Deep range," Adams said. "It's funny, though, he struggles doing anything else, like shooting off the dribble. But shooting off the pick? He'll get (wild) on you.

"He's worse on the basketball court than he is on the football field. Oh, waaaaay more competitive. I'll be on another team, playing against him, and he'll be screaming, 'Push the ball! Push the tempo!' I'll be like, 'You're not on our team!'"

Milloy even helps his teammates with advice on how to invest their money.

"He's the type of guy who will seek you out. He is the ultimate leader — he wants to see you get better," Adams said. "Sometimes he sees something special about a particular guy, and he latches onto him.

"He even talks to me about cutting my hair. He'll be like, 'C'mon, man, you don't need your hair like that, man! Cut your hair!'"

Milloy said he wasn't really thinking about retirement this spring. But the former Washington Husky was thinking about leaving his hometown team after riding its bench under former coach Jim Mora last season. Milloy had signed with Seattle after Atlanta set him free in a salary purge, after three seasons there.

But Carroll, true to his mantra of "always compete" that is boldly stamped on a big, new scoreboard next to the practice field, told Milloy he'd get a chance to start again — provided he do some coaching, too.

"He told me to come here and compete for the job, lead by example," Milloy said. "I told him last year I didn't like sitting on the bench. I told him the only way I'd come back to this organization is if I knew I had a true shot to actually get on the field.

"Last year was a very humbling experience for me. I'm using that as fire to compete."

Milloy is now to Thomas what former Patriots Willie Clay, Willie McGinest and Bruce Armstrong were to Milloy 15 years ago in New England.

"That's the one thing that's different now. That's the biggest deal. There were more veterans around then," Milloy said of those Patriots. "Older guys are almost obsolete now here."

Asked if he senses Thomas is watching how Milloy conducts himself, the veteran said, "He needs to be.

"I got the blueprint for how you last in this league," Milloy said. "It's a very simple formula: You've got to be consistent in everything you do. ... Go out there and make plays. Be humble. Respect yourself. Respect others around you. And always stay hungry.

"That's how I've lasted so long."