RENTON, Wash. (AP) — After the final preseason game in late August against Oakland, Bruce Irvin didn't want to remove his jersey and shoulder pads, knowing it would be sometime in October before he would be back in a Seahawks uniform.
No wonder Irvin wore a huge smile Wednesday when he finally got back on the practice field after serving a four-game suspension for using a banned substance.
"My smile explains everything. It feels great," Irvin said. "It was tough watching these guys for four weeks but you know I had to pay my debt to society. Now it's time to get back to work."
The Seahawks didn't hesitate in throwing Irvin back into practice on Wednesday, but have not made a determination if he will be ready to go when Seattle heads to Indianapolis to face the Colts. Not only has Irvin missed the first month of the season, he has yet to play a regular-season game in his new role as a linebacker.
"This is a bit of a transition for him. He still hasn't really cemented himself in that position with the limited amount of work he got in the preseason," coach Pete Carroll said. "We have to wait and see what it looks like."
Irvin, the Seahawks' first-round pick in 2012, spent most of his four-week suspension in West Virginia, where he went to college. Irvin said he tried to stay in football shape and to pass along the message to college players not to take their opportunities for granted. Irvin was scheduled to make $814,645 in base salary for the 2013 season but lost a quarter of that total.
"I just love that state. Obviously, I went to school there. I contributed to the weight room, a lot of money, so I felt like I should go back there and use the weight room," Irvin joked. "It was rough being around those college kids, but I tried to coach them up and give them as much advice as I can and try to make them see that I'm not there because I'm supposed to be there. I'm suspended. So little things like that. It was good."
The decision to move Irvin to linebacker stems partly from what the Seahawks were able to do in free agency when they were able to sign Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Tony McDaniel to add to the defensive line. With those pieces, the Seahawks could tinker with the idea of using Irvin as a linebacker playing on the line of scrimmage.
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