Coach Pete Carroll might have given his players and coaches the week off, but that did nothing to stem the numbers of entries in the mailbag. The questions have been pouring in – on a number of topics and from a variety of locations.
So let’s end the week with a double dose of your questions and concerns …
Q: I was just wondering about the running back situation. With the release of LenDale White there is an obvious need for a little bigger, change-of-pace kind of back. I haven’t heard much on Louis Rankin, but I saw that he was listed at 210 pounds. If he bulks up 10-15 pounds couldn’t he be the guy? – Chris, Ashland, Ore.
A: The problem with Rankin bulking up, Chris, is that it could cost him some of his speed. And the former University of Washington back is not the physical presence that Carroll has been looking for – an element that he hoped White could provide.
With White gone, Rankin does move up a spot in the pecking order at a very competitive position. But he’s still running behind Julius Jones, Justin Forsett and Quinton Ganther – and Leon Washington, who continues to rehab the broken leg that ended his 2009 season, is scheduled to join this group once training camp practices begin in late July.
Q: If Justin Forsett rushed for over 900 yards with five touchdowns, with only two starts for the season, and averaged 5.4 yards per carry, why isn’t he on the top of the depth chart? – Travis, Lynnwood
A: Your stats are a bit skewed, Travis, but your question is valid. Forsett rushed for 619 yards and four touchdowns to go with that 5.4-yard average. The other 350 yards and his fifth TD came on 41 receptions.
Jones has remained the “starter” in minicamp and OTA practices, but Forsett is getting plenty of work. Carroll has been talking up Forsett since he arrived in January, and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is devising a role to fit his talents.
Perhaps a better way to answer your question is to point out that the plan is to use a running-back-by-committee approach. So more important than the “starter” label will be which back fills which role, and Forsett definitely will have at least one.
Q: How does the punting game look this year? – Steve, Tumwater
A: The same as it did last season, Steve, and that’s good news. The most consistent players on the team in 2009 were punter Jon Ryan and kicker Olindo Mare – with Ryan has his holder.
Both are back, and picking up where they left off. Ryan set a franchise record with his 46.2-yard average and tied Rick Tuten’s club record with a net average of 38.7 yards. Mare will enter the 2010 season riding a club-record streak of converting 21 consecutive field goals and – at almost 37 (his birthday is Sunday) and in his 15th NFL season – still has that strong right leg which has allowed him to be among the league leaders in touchbacks on his kickoffs in each of his first two seasons with the Seahawks.
The one change is the snapper, with former Western Washington defensive lineman Matt Overton replacing Jeff Robinson.
Q: Now that we have claimed Isaiah Stanback off waivers, what realistically are his chances of making the 53-man roster? Do you think we would keep him as a possible Wildcat option? He has ridiculous speed and a good arm. – Tyler, Cheney (Frank in Gig Harbor also asked about Stanback)
A: It would be easy to dismiss Stanback as “just a training-camp player,” Tyler, except for the qualities you point out. The former University of Washington quarterback is a gifted athlete who has been learning to play wide receiver in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.
Claiming him is just another example of Schneider and Carroll being willing to take a look at any player who might be able to help the team. It is, however, too early to tell if Stanback could be an option as Wildcat QB – if Bates is even interested in going with a wrinkle that most NFL defenses seem to have ironed out.
Q: How is Kevin Vickerson and how does he factor into the defensive tackle rotation? He is a very large man at 6 feet 5, 321 pounds. He reminds me of Marcus Tubbs. – Victor, Raleigh, N.C. (Frank in Gig Harbor also asked about Vickerson)
A: Vickerson, the other player obtained in the draft day trade with the Titans that also delivered White, has yet to practice. But you’re right, Victor, he is a big body to plug into the middle of the line.
The difference between Tubbs and Vickerson is that Tubbs, the team’s first-round draft choice in 2004 whose career was prematurely ended because of knee problems, had an explosive burst that he used as a pass-rusher. Vickerson has been more of a run-stuffer during his NFL career and Carroll has talked about using his bulk in those situations.
The coaches like the starting duo of nose tackle Colin Cole and three-technique tackle Brandon Mebane. But with Red Bryant’s move from tackle to end, there could be a spot open in the rotation.
Q: How have E.J. Wilson and Dexter Davis, our two defensive end picks from the draft, looked in the OTAs so far? And what about Kevin Vickerson, the defensive end we got in the draft day trade? Seattle had 28 sacks last season. Are any of these guys going to be able to contribute much? Where are they on the depth chart? – Bobby, Salem, Ore.
A: There isn’t an official depth chart yet, Bobby. But Wilson and Davis have been working on the No. 3 line – with the 244-pound Davis at the “Leo” spot and the 289-pound Wilson on the other side. Ahead of Wilson are Bryant and Lawrence Jackson, and sometimes Robert Henderson. Ahead of Davis are Chris Clemons and Nick Reed, and sometimes Ricky Foley.
How have they looked in practice? Like what they are – rookies. Each has had his moments, but the key will be how consistent they play when the pads come on in training camp practices and especially the preseason games.
Davis has the best chance to help increase the sack total, because of the position he is playing and due to the fact that he had 31 sacks in 50 games at Arizona State.
Q: I noticed that Jameson Konz was a fullback in college. We drafted him as wide receiver, now he is listed as a tight end on the roster. I was just wondering what position the Hawks are giving him the most reps at? – Jeff, Olympia
A: Konz played a little bit of everything at Kent State, Jeff. He was a linebacker as a freshman and sophomore, played some free safety and standup linebacker as a junior and then moved to tight end and H-back. It was this versatility, and his freakish athletic ability (including a 46-inch vertical), that prompted the Seahawks to select him in the seventh round.
Although listed as wide receiver on draft day, Konz has been working with the tight end since his first practice with the Seahawks.
Q: I saw in a question about free agency that we are building with the draft and filling gaps with free agents. My question is this: Why not sign Flozell Adams, who would add to an offensive line that has struggled for the past three years? His presence and teaching abilities, as well, could make this offensive line one of the best in the league supporting Matt Hasselbeck and the offense. – Cory, Germany
A: We’ve touched on this topic several times this offseason, Cory, and the answer will not change no matter how many times it’s asked.
Schneider’s philosophy – developed while working for Ron Wolf, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson – is to build through the draft and patch obvious needs in free agency, with the right players at the right price. When talking offensive linemen, that philosophy also includes getting players who can play in the zone-blocking scheme being installed by veteran line coach Alex Gibbs.
Even thought he was a 16-game starter in 10 of his 12 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Adams is 35. The Seahawks did add one veteran lineman in free agency – left guard Ben Hamilton, who played for Gibbs in Denver. Hamilton was signed, in part, because he can mentor rookie left tackle Russell Okung in the same manner he did Ryan Clady with the Broncos.