RENTON, Wash. — Edgerrin James signed with Seattle in an effort to revitalize his career while the Seahawks are just desperate to improve a running game that ranked near the bottom in the NFL last season.
James, who agreed to a free-agent contract Tuesday, said Wednesday that he's not in Seattle to compete with starter Julius Jones but to work with him.
"It's a cool situation to come in and play with Julius," James said Wednesday after his first practice with the Seahawks. "In this day and age in the NFL, everything is pretty much two backs. I'm not here to compete with Julius, I'm here to complement him, to come in here and work together. I just want to win."
James is the league's active leading rusher and is 11th on the NFL rushing list with 12,121 yards. But he was benched for the first time in his career last season by Arizona.
His resurgence during the playoffs gave Arizona the running game it had lacked and sparked the team to James' only Super Bowl. The Cardinals released him earlier this year.
The Seahawks, who released running back T.J. Duckett to pave the way for James, signed him to support Jones.
"I'm just going to take it day by day and let the coaches decide how they feel I'm coming along," James said. "I'm not going to try to force nothing. I'm just going to try to do everything I can do."
Coach Jim Mora said that when considering James he watched videos of his last four games last season, including the Super Bowl, in which he had 33 yards in a 27-23 loss to Pittsburgh.
"That's what we based it on, that and his history of being a tough runner that's durable. He doesn't take losses," Mora said. "When we watched him on film, he still looked like that guy."
James also is 31, an age at which running backs are historically on the decline.
"You have to consider his age. It's irresponsible if you don't," Mora said. "We talked about it at length. The fact is he's going to be a complementary back to Julius. Julius is going to be our workhorse, our lead dog. To be able to get a guy of Edgerrin's caliber, his personality and pedigree to come in here and do what he's going to do is bonus for us."
Mora talked to Jones, who had 698 yards in a split role with Duckett a year ago, during the weekend to tell him of the team's interest in James.
"I told him, 'I just want you to know that it's not going to change your role on this football team,' " Mora said. "You're the guy we're going to give the ball to and take it and run.' "
James and Jones were together on the sidelines for most of Wednesday's practice, talking and throwing the football to each other.
It has been a difficult year for James. His longtime girlfriend and mother of his four children, Andia Wilson, died April 18 of leukemia. James said he had to sort out his life before he turned his attention back to football.
"I wanted to just make sure my family was straight and that situation was taken care of. That was the most important thing. With all that went on, I didn't want to blow it as a parent," he said. "With the help of my mom and my family, we got that under control. They assured me that I can go away and they'll take care of everything."