The running backs. The only offensive position group that didn’t add a big-name free agent last week might be the most exciting — and complete — unit this season.
With Marshawn Lynch leading the way and tailbacks Leon Washington and Justin Forsett right behind, the running backs have been further establishing themselves as a key foundational piece to the Seahawks’ attack. In yet another practice, the running backs turned in highlight plays all over field, with Forsett taking the headlines with several impressive runs this morning.
Then add in fullback Michael Robinson, who’s bulked up to 240 pounds, to the mix, and you’re looking at unit that is drawing a lot of attention from the coaching staff, even if there isn’t a big-name free agent pickup in their meeting room.
“This group has come back great,” Coach Pete Carroll said of the running backs. “They’re sharper, stronger, leaner and really determined.”
Those are very appropriate adjectives that hopefully portend a solid year for the group — and the Seahawks.
Said Carroll: “It’s really important we run the football — we’ve been committed to that since last year.”
Josh Portis. The first-year quarterback has been making a strong push in his first 10 days with the Seahawks, so much so that he was given control of the offense for the final scrimmage-like session of this morning’s practice.
He led the team to a field goal and touchdown in a handful of series, including two impressive downfield throws for big gains. Today’s performance was the latest achievement in a camp full of them for the rookie out of California University of Pennsylvania.
“He’s been a pleasant surprise,” quarterbacks coach Carl Smith said.
Smith praised Portis’ arm, feet, speed and poise, while Coach Pete Carroll likes his command of the offense at such an early stage.
“I’m really excited about Josh,” Carroll said. “We’re really excited about him being our third quarterback at this time. He was an extremely big get for us in free agency.”
Portis has had quite the journey to get to Seattle. The cousin of NFL running back Clinton Portis, he played his freshman season in 2005 at Florida before transferring to Maryland for the 2006-08 seasons before playing at California University of Pennsylvania in 2009-10. All told, Portis spent six years bouncing around three colleges.
But now, his future has unfolded at the professional level, starting with the last week of practice and continuing with preseason games beginning Thursday against the Chargers.
“He’ll play a lot in the San Diego game,” Carroll said. “We’re just trying to get him going.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Offense: Although several plays could go here, WR Ricardo Lockette had a catch in 7-on-7 drills that had the fans and players in awe. About 40 yards down the left sideline, the rookie wideout jumped up and reeled in the deep ball while falling to the ground and with the cornerback smothering him.
Defense: Safety Earl Thomas recorded an interception on a tipped pass over the middle before tearing upfield virtually untouched for a 65-yard touchdown return.
OUT OF ACTION
Wide receiver Ben Obomanu was excused from practice for the third straight day because of a family matter.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond and defensive ends Red Bryant, Dexter Davis and Kentwan Balmer sat out of practice. Chris Clemons was limited. Wide receiver Deon Butler (leg), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe), defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle) and cornerback Roy Lewis (knee) remained sidelined while recovering from surgeries.
ODDS AND ENDS
UW great Nate Robinson attended practice — but did not try out. He and Carroll had traded tweets earlier in the week about a potential tryout. … A camp-best 2,151 fans attended the practice. … In his first practice of camp, defensive end Raheem Brock made several notable plays to disrupt the running and passing game.
Following a short walk-thru this afternoon, the Seahawks will take Sunday off and return to action on Monday as they enter final preparations for the preseason opener at San Diego on Thursday. Six open-to-the-public practices remain in Bing Training Camp, so register here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“He’s already made a half-dozen circus catches in just a few days.” –Carroll said of wideout Sidney Rice, who’s done much to impress coaches, teammates and fans during his first three practices with the Seahawks.