RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was definitely joking when he said Deuce Lutui, the team's new guard, checked in at 208 pounds for the offseason conditioning program.
But when Carroll indicated Lutui had indeed dropped considerable weight, the coach was serious. Carroll also dropped a shocker when he said Lutui, notorious for his weight troubles while with the Arizona Cardinals, had become a vegan.
That's right, a vegan.
There were so many other angles to cover following the Seahawks' 45-minute voluntary workout for veterans Friday, but none could match this one for the double-take factor. Lutui's long history of weight issues invite skepticism. I followed up with Carroll twice in an effort to make sure the coach wasn't joking. He stuck with his story, but conceivably could have been kidding.
Weight troubles had, after all, derailed Lutui's signing with Cincinnati last offseason, leading the Bengals to fail him on a physical examination. The Cardinals valued Lutui as a starter for years, but they grew weary of the weight issues, relegating the former second-round draft choice to a backup role in 2011.
Lutui signed with Seattle this offseason and was reunited with Carroll, his former coach at USC. He was also reunited with the Trojans' former strength coach, Chris Carlisle.
"Deuce Lutui, he is a joy to have out here," Carroll said. "He has got such a great spirit. He always did. We looked at opportunities to get him on this club just because of that. He looks good. His weight is down -- I mean, way down from where he can be. He's a vegan, too, now, so he has really made a big turn, if you can imagine, yes."
Several reporters blurted out responses conveying surprise.
"Yeah, I wouldn't make that up," Carroll said.
Or would he? I'm not buying this one all the way. Lutui was not available for interviews. The team had a small window between its on-field session and meetings. Carroll, Flynn and Jackson were the ones made available.
The offensive players wore dark jerseys Friday, so there might have been a slimming factor to the visual, but all in all, I thought Lutui looked pretty good.
On to other subjects:
The quarterback competition between Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson is under way, with third-round choice Russell Wilson scheduled to join the fun once rookies report. Jackson, as the incumbent, took the initial snaps and was the first to speak with reporters afterward. But Carroll stressed that this was the most open competition he'd had since Matt Leinart and Matt Cassel were competing at USC.
Quick initial impression on Flynn and Jackson: Flynn appeared more accurate, while Jackson appeared to have the stronger arm. There wasn't much to go on, but those impressions line up with expectations.
Third- or fourth-team quarterback Josh Portis isn't getting many reps. The team is giving additional reps to Flynn, helping him to learn the system.
Receivers Sidney Rice and Mike Williams were not present. They're rehabbing from injuries. Cornerback Walter Thurmond watched from a scooter, his injured lower leg in a boot. Tackle James Carpenter watched practice, but his knee will not be ready until the season, if then. Russell Okung and John Moffitt participated. Rules mandating light on-field duty with no contact during the second phase of the voluntary conditioning program are allowing Okung and Moffitt to ease their way back from injuries.
Newly signed defensive tackle Jason Jones is tall (6-foot-5) and lean (276 pounds). One look at him and there's no question of his primary role. It'll be as a pass-rusher.
Receiver Golden Tate, trying to build on a strong finish to last season, made a one-handed grab in stride. Catching the ball in an environment so relaxed means little, but it beats the alternative, especially for a young player trying to build momentum.
That's it for now. The NFC West chat begins at 3 p.m. ET.