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Camp Carroll: Day 21

A recap of the afternoon practice at Seahawks training camp on Wednesday:

FOCUS ON

Atari Bigby. Signed by the team on Tuesday, the former Packers safety practiced with the Seahawks for the first time today.

“It felt good to be back playing football and be back with a team,” Bigby said.

Bigby’s period of “unemployment” lasted longer than he anticipated.

“No player wants to really go through camp, because it’s the most grueling time of the football season,” he said. “But I didn’t expect to be out so long. I thought as soon as the lockout was over I was going to be one of the first guys picked. So that was hard. That was hard, swallowing that.”

The Seahawks “picked” Bigby to give them some experience on the last line of defense, and also to play special teams. The starting safeties are second-year players – Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Also in the mix for spots on the 53-man roster are rookies Mark LeGree and Jeron Johnson, as well as second-year man Josh Pinkard.

Today, Bigby was working at strong safety with the No. 2 unit.

“We see Atari as a guy who has had extended experience,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s been a nickel guy. He’s started some. He’s been all over special teams. A very well versed guy. Bright kid.

“Now we need to see him fit in and compete and see how he matches up with our guys.”

UNIT WATCH

Special teams. The Seahawks have their punter in Jon Ryan and snapper in Clint Gresham. The kicker will be either veteran Jeff Reed or the less experienced Brandon Coutu.

As for the rest of the units, “That’s a work in progress,” as Carroll put it. “And it’s not anywhere near where we need it to be right now.”

But the addition of bigger, faster, stronger players in free agency and the draft should help special teams coach Brian Schneider cobbled together his units.

“It’s going to take us a few weeks before we get everybody a shot,” Carroll said. “The rookies that are here, they had one shot last week and some of them had a play or two. You just can’t learn enough in that amount of time.

“So we have to be patient and just wait it out and use all four games to figure out the young people.”

ROOKIE WATCH

K.J. Wright. The fourth-round draft choice was moved to middle linebacker to backup David Hawthorne after veteran starter Lofa Tatupu was released. After an understandably slow start, Wright is taking to his new spot – as evidenced by his team-high eight tackles in the preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego.

He also stands out for another obvious reason: Wright is 6-4.

“He’s a big kid. He’s different from most Mike linebackers,” Carroll said. “So he’s got a different look to him as he moves around. He’s very instinctive. He’s got a real quick knack to find the football. And when he gets there, he’s 250 pounds.

“He’s got some dimensions that make him unique in our group.”

As Wright’s efforts against the Chargers, Carroll offered, “He played better than I thought he would first time out. As the game sped up, so did he. And he made some nice hits.”

PLAYS OF THE DAY

Defense: The players practice in full pads and the D-linemen helped set the tempo in the first team drill. On the first snap, tackle Alan Branch laid a big hit on the running back as he reached the hole. A few players later, rookie tackle Pep Levingston popped the back to force a fumble.

Offense: Left guard Paul McQuistan sliding over to not only pickup a blitzing Wright, but stop the rookie linebacker in his tracks.

Special teams: Reed drilling a 52-yard field goal on the final play of practice. You could tell it was going to be good from the moment it left his foot because of the solid thump.

IN AND OUT

Tight end John Carlson continues to be sidelined with a shoulder injury. He damaged his labrum while diving for a pass in practice on Saturday.

Also sitting out: left tackle Russell Okung, cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Kelly Jennings, defensive end Chris Clemons, wide receiver Isaiah Stanback, safety Rickey Thenarse and defensive linemen Jimmy Wilkerson Pierre Allen and Ryan Sims, as well as the four players who are on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list – wide receiver Deon Butler, tight end Cameron Morrah, defensive tackle Colin Cole and cornerback Roy Lewis.

Tyler Polumbus continued to work for Okung with the No. 1 line, while Raheem Brock subbed for Clemons. With Jennings and Thurmond out, Brandon Browner continues to work at right corner with the No. 1 defense.

Returning after missing time with minor injuries: Reed, wide receiver Doug Baldwin and Kris Durham, defensive end Jameson Konz, cornerback Byron Maxwell and defensive lineman Jay Alford.

UP NEXT

Believe it or not, the training camp that seemed like it would never arrive in this oddest of offseasons breaks after practice on Thursday afternoon. The schedule for the remainder of the preseason won’t be all that different, however, because teams were allowed to practice only once a day during camp under the rules of the new CBA.

Today’s practice was the final one open to the public and 1,653 were on hand.

After practice, players presented selected fans with autographed jerseys.

“We’re just telling them how grateful we are – that this is such a great place to play and how fortunte we are to be playing with a following like this,” Carroll said. “The 12th Man has been extraordinary in our first year, and I’m hoping we can fuel them up and get them all jacked up again for this season coming up.”

YOU DON’T SAY

“My intention is to go on Saturday. Most definitely. I want to see what I’ve got.” – Bigby, when asked about playing against the Vikings in the home opener


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