RENTON — How, Nick Bellore was asked, does he introduce himself to strangers?
Does he introduce himself as a fullback? Or a linebacker? Or maybe a special-teams ace?
The Seahawks’ do-everything, self-deprecating veteran chuckled at the question.
“Half the battle is just convincing them that I actually play on the team,” Bellore deadpanned. “So I don’t really get into positions. They’re like, ‘No, you don’t (play for the Seahawks).’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I do.’ I never really know what to tell them, but they never believe me anyway.”
Fact check: Yes, he is on the Seahawks roster, with a uniform number and everything (No. 44).
And here in his 11th NFL training camp, third in Seattle, there is another position, of sorts, the 32-year-old Bellore has assumed — double agent.
That’s the label teammates have given him, anyway, as Bellore has traded practice jerseys between offense (blue) and defense (white) throughout camp, never really knowing which one he will be asked to wear when he shows up to work any given morning.
Bellore is listed on the team roster as a fullback. Of course, he provides the most value to the Seahawks on special teams — he earned the first Pro Bowl nod of his career last season for his special-teams work.
But for much of the past two weeks, he has spent his time working as an inside linebacker, helping out at a position that has been hit with some injuries.
“I’m kind of a double agent,” Bellore said. “If I make a good play on defense, they (teammates on offense) assume I cheated because I knew what the call was. They give me way too much credit.”
Interestingly, the view from the defensive side of the ball has given Bellore new perspective on the Seahawks’ new offense. As the only fullback on the roster, Bellore spent all offseason in meetings learning the nuances of the offense under first-year coordinator Shane Waldron.
As a fill-in linebacker, it’s now his job is to try slow down that offense in practice.
“It’s been pretty cool, actually,” he said. “Because I’ve learned more about the offense playing defense now. When you’re on offense, you’re just learning your plays and you look at it as this little box. Being on defense, it’s like, ‘Oh, this is pretty tough to go against.’”
In particular, Bellore said, Waldron’s formations make what is often a basic defensive read — run or pass? — a difficult task.
“Everything looks the same,” he said. “You’re never quite sure if they’re running or passing, and then you have tempo mixed in there … it makes it tough.”
Bellore again is expected to be one of the team’s steadiest contributors on just about every special-teams unit this season — along with Ben Burr-Kirven, Cody Barton and Ryan Neal, among others. It’s a thankless job Bellore relishes, and one he tries to urge young teammates to take seriously. Bellore is proof that one can make a (long) career in the NFL playing mostly special teams.
Across the board, the Seahawks last year had one of the NFL’s highest-ranked special teams, led by specialists Michael Dickson, Jason Myers and Tyler Ott.
“The biggest thing that we have that’s really rare is the continuity between players and the core guys on special teams, which never happens,” Bellore said. “We have the best punter-kicker-snapper (combination) there is, and that makes our job easier.”
Whether Bellore is playing offense, defense or special teams, the consensus among teammates is he is the Seahawk with the best sense of humor.
“He’s definitely the funniest guy on the team,” Russell Wilson said Wednesday. “But he’s also one of the hardest-working guys on the team. He’s in here grinding every day, putting in the work. That’s what you love about him.”
Bellore keeps a close eye on teammates’ social-media posts, looking for anything quirky he can use for locker-room fodder.
“I just try to keep it light,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that guys do in there (the locker room) or social media that you can make fun of. I tend to exploit that. They do it to themselves, really. Just making sure everyone knows what they did. It’s fun, though. This is a tough enough game — you don’t need to be uptight all the time.”