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Jordyn Brooks Welcomes Expanded Leadership Role With New-Look Seahawks

For the first time in 10 years, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner weren't sporting their No. 3 and No. 54 jerseys at the start of Seattle's organized team activities. In the wake of their departures, the onus will fall on Brooks and others to fill the leadership void.

RENTON, WA - When coach Pete Carroll first approached Kam Chancellor about becoming a leader for the Seahawks in 2010, the rookie safety didn't consider himself ready for the task. After all, why would veterans listen to a fifth-round draft choice who had yet to establish himself?

Years later, "Bam Bam" recalled responding to Carroll at the time by saying, "Coach, I haven't done anything yet."

But while Chancellor may not have felt like a capable leader when he first broke into the NFL, whether he intended to or not, the hard-hitting enforcer quickly became one as a central piece of the vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary for an eventual Super Bowl champion. The heart and soul of one of the best defenses in league history, he earned All-Pro honors twice and made four Pro Bowl teams while amassing 607 tackles and 12 interceptions.

Enjoying a fantastic eight-year career that unfortunately came to an abrupt end due to a neck injury in 2017, Chancellor not only proved to coaches and teammates that he could lead, more importantly, he proved to himself that his words and actions carried far greater weight to those around him than he ever could have imagined.

Fast forwarding back to the present, following the departures of star quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks have a similar leadership void to when Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and a talented rookie class arrived. Interestingly, that was coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider's first year with the organization as they were trying to establish a firm foundation for a consistent playoff contender.

Without Wilson and Wagner at the front of drills for the first time in a decade at Monday's first OTA practice of the spring, while Seattle looks to be in a comparable situation to his first year at the helm, Carroll senses a different vibe in the team's offseason program as new leaders begin to emerge and a team identity begins to develop. Just as Chancellor did 12 years ago, he's excited to see who rises up to fill the leadership chasm leading up to the new season.

"That’s an example of that’s what the nurturing process is, it is talking to people and knowing guys that others look up to," Carroll said of Chancellor . "There are who sayers, guys that are just listened to more carefully. We know that and see that as we go along, we are learning our players and seeing how they are taking hold now, but it’s just helping the opportunities for those guys to speak up and step out, and when they do, critique them a little bit and help them along the way. That’s a process that is ongoing and it has a natural kind of order to it that will take shape in time. It’s fun to watch because there are guys that are really excited about stepping into new opportunities.”

While Carroll acknowledged it will take time to figure out who takes the torch from Wilson and Wagner, with the roster now bereft of a single player who played for Seattle's last Super Bowl squad, third-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks may be in the driver's seat.

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Though he's only 24 years old, Brooks has already surfaced as a budding star in the middle of the Seahawks' defense. After breaking into the starting lineup midway through his rookie season, the former first-round pick out of Texas Tech surpassed Wagner's franchise record with 184 combined tackles and led the team with 10 tackles for loss in 2021, earning his first All-Pro vote.

With camp only two months away, Brooks isn't oblivious to how different things are at the VMAC without Wilson or Wagner, who mentored him in his first two seasons. But he believes in the culture built by Carroll, Schneider, and past legends like Chancellor over the years and with him stepping into Wagner's shoes as Seattle's new defensive play caller with the green dot on the back of his helmet, he's ready to "embrace the role" in his own way.

“It just means I’ve got to handle my business and make sure that I'm doing everything right at all times," Brooks said. "You go down a list of great Seahawks that played here. Great leaders of the past teams. Take a little bit of pride in that. And so, I just want to do the best job that I can for our team.”

Like Chancellor, Brooks isn't known for being the most vocal presence and isn't a rah-rah personality. In press conferences, he tends to be soft-spoken and reserved.

But on the field, Brooks lets his physical, aggressive style do the talking for him, something he learned from observing and playing alongside Wagner. While he will need to speak up a bit more than he has in the past as part of his new role with the Seahawks, particularly when it comes to barking defensive calls in the huddle, he can still lead by example as his future Hall of Fame predecessor did so effectively.

“I think that was the best thing that Bobby showed anybody," Brooks remarked. "Just the way he carried himself, while he was in these buildings. And his day-to-day routine, what he did to get prepared for practice, let alone the game. And so I think that's the biggest thing I took from him."

On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks don't have a natural successor in waiting to help replace Wilson's leadership, at least not now. Drew Lock and Geno Smith jumpstarted their competition vying for the starting job on Monday and though Carroll has hinted that Smith leads the battle due to his familiarity with coordinator Shane Waldron's scheme, until a starter is named down the road, questions will persist at the quarterback position.

Away from quarterback, Carroll has seen receiver DK Metcalf step up and take on greater responsibility despite being limited thus far in the offseason program rehabbing from foot surgery. Tight end Will Dissly also stands out as a returning starter who carries a strong voice in the locker room amongst teammates.

Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, as the Seahawks transition into a new era, Carroll and his staff can take solace in the fact they do have a talented, ascending player in Brooks who not only is qualified to step into Wagner's Canton-sized stead, but seems eager to do so. While other leaders such as Metcalf and Dissly will emerge along the way, that's an excellent starting point for the franchise as they begin rebuilding their foundation.