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Former Cardinals linebacker O'Brien Schofield making strong first impression with Seahawks

After recovering from an ankle injury that prematurely ended his 2012 season, O'Brien Schofield reported early for training camp with the Arizona Cardinals looking to get a jumpstart on his fourth year with the team.

Instead, the Cardinals informed him he was being released to make room for newly signed veteran John Abraham. Now, Schofield finds himself playing for a division rival with Super Bowl aspirations.

Despite some sour feelings over his release, Schofield is excited for a new start with the Seattle Seahawks.

"Honestly, I didn't like the way that I got let go, but at the same time I really appreciate the opportunity; it was definitely a blessing," Schofield said. "Now I'm able to start a different part of my life with the Seattle Seahawks, and I'm ready to go."

Schofield had worked his way into a starting role with the Cardinals and had four sacks in nine games before injuring his ankle a season ago. Under new head coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals no longer saw Schofield as a fit for their plans on defense. As Schofield was getting ready to go through the team's conditioning test, he was pulled off the practice field and told he was being let go.

The Seahawks claimed him the following day.

"When you do your work and put stuff on film, you're always auditioning for 31 other teams. You never know when that time comes when a team doesn't need your services anymore and someone else can use you," Schofield said. "I'm still grateful to the Cardinals that they gave me the opportunity from the get-go and now I'm just ready to start fresh and compete with these guys and work to win a championship."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Schofield was a player they liked since he was coming out of Wisconsin in 2010. Now that Schofield was suddenly available, Carroll jumped at the chance to bring in a player he had wanted in the first place.

"He's quick and strong enough to be physical when he needs to be," Carroll said. "He's got a really good sense. He's just a natural outside backer, 6-2, 250-something pounds. We are very fortunate to get him."

Schofield serves as added insurance for the Seahawks' pass rush. Chris Clemons' status is still uncertain as he remains on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a torn ACL in Seattle's playoff victory over the Washington Redskins in January. Clemons is expected to play this season and there is still a chance he'll be ready for Week 1, but the timetable for him to play is still uncertain.

Bruce Irvin is changing positions from defensive end to outside linebacker and is still adjusting to his new role. He's also set to serve a four-game suspension to start the season for a violation of the performance-enhancing drug policy. Defensive end Cliff Avril has also been limited in training camp as he's battled foot and hamstring issues this offseason.

Carroll believes Schofield can provide the same fit for Seattle's defense as the new role the team is earmarking for Irvin. Schofield's addition could be a key factor early for the Seahawks.

"It helps us," Carroll said. "And, you know it will help us with Chris Clemons, too, because he is a legitimate outside rusher on third down. He played on a really good third down team last year with Arizona, and it looks like he could contribute to us."

Schofield was already working with the first-team defense and nickel defenses in his third practice Thursday at strongside linebacker. He will also get some looks at Seattle's LEO defensive end position when he gets more acclimated.

"I am so impressed. He looks the part. He walks like a linebacker, talks like a linebacker." linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. said. "He's made a fantastic first impression."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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