Pete Carroll pleased with roster upgrade

The Seattle Seahawks have 17 players on their 53-man roster who were not part of the team that won 11 regular-season games last year. That seems a little unusual for a playoff team, but coach Pete Carroll is pleased with his squad.

“It’s just exciting they could find guys who could help us upgrade at key spots,’’ Carroll said. “We’re all about guys competing and earning their way. They earned their spots. Hopefully it makes us a little better.”

Carroll said the final roster cuts over the weekend were the toughest of his career.

“We had a very challenging weekend,” he said. “We burned the candle up here. This was an extremely competitive camp, and it was verified by all the people who ended up in other people’s camps. There were a lot of good football players we had to let go.”

One of those was Michael Robinson, who was the team’s starting fullback. He also was one of the team leaders in the locker room.

“That was a very difficult decision,” Carroll said. “Mike has been an instrumental guy in this football team.”

Part of it was a financial decision. Robinson was schedule to make $2.5 million this season. But the Seahawks' coaches are convinced second-year player Derrick Coleman (who was on the practice squad at the end of last season) and rookie Spencer Ware can handle the fullback duties.

One player who wasn’t here a year ago lost out to a player who was. The Seahawks released 14-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, who they acquired as a free agent in the offseason. Winfield elected to retire when Seattle released him.

“He’s an extraordinary football player and great person,” Carroll said of Winfield. “But he ran up against Walter Thurmond, who had a great camp. It’s the best he’s been and we’re really excited about him in the nickel spot. Walter just needed to get healthy and he finally is.

“Walter was always explosive and really a dynamic athlete. It was just a little rough around the edges and we had to clean up some stuff over time. But his play-making ability and the way he breaks on the ball and all the things shows up. He’s tackling better than ever."

Many people consider the Seattle secondary the best in the NFL. Carroll knows his backups are capable of starting if needed.

“I’ve never had this much depth at corner,” he said. “To have Walter and Maxey [Byron Maxwell] and Jeremy [Lane], we won four games last year with those guys playing and we wouldn’t hesitate to play them again. They have really big-time speed.”

One big surprise among the Seattle cuts was the team’s decision to keep only two tight ends -- starter Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson.

“Luke had a great camp and we have total confidence in him playing,” Carroll said. “Also [offensive lineman], Mike Person can play there a little bit for us when we need a heavy-duty guy out there.”