A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:
Charlie Whitehurst. The team’s backup quarterback is on a roll, but coach Pete Carroll remains committed to Tarvaris Jackson as the starter as the Seahawks prepare for Saturday night’s third preseason game against the Broncos in Denver as well as the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco.
“I’m really pleased with his progress. Charlie has taken advantage of everything we’ve done out here,” Carroll said following this afternoon’s two-hour practice in full pads.
Whitehurst also has taken advantage of what the opposing defenses have given him in the first two preseason games. He was 14 of 20 for 115 yards in the opener against the Chargers in San Diego and 14 of 19 for 97 yards in Saturday night’s home opener against the Minnesota Vikings – although Carroll said it could have been a 17-of-19 outing if his receivers had not dropped some passes.
“You can see it, Charlie is functioning beautifully,” Carroll said. “You can’t ask him to do a whole lot more than that. I’m really, really fired up that he’s playing at the level he is right now.”
Even with that said, Carroll explained that it does not change his mind about Jackson continuing to be the starter – in part because the offensive line has not provided him with adequate protection.
“Tarvaris can function out there. He made good decisions. He moved well,” Carroll said. “The rush was much closer to him. He had guys around him. We weren’t as stout with the pass-pro as we would like.
“But he was very comfortable in the game (and had) a really good mentality to work with during the game – a very clear thinker, good communicator and all of that.”
And, Carroll added, it goes beyond statistics.
“We’re looking very subjectively at this,” he said. “You don’t just look at the numbers. You’ve got to look at what’s happening up front, and how the protection is holding up, and did we run the right route.”
Linebacker. The defense practiced without its starters, as Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill sat out because of sore knees they got against the Vikings.
Carroll said he expects Curry and Hill to be ready for Saturday night’s game against the Broncos.
But this afternoon, the “starting” unit included rookie K.J. Wright in the middle for Hawthorne, rookie Malcolm Smith on the weakside for Hill and rookie Mike Morgan and just-signed David Vobora splitting time on the strongside for Curry.
“David is a savvy football player, a really good special teams guy, with flexibility and experience,” Carroll said of Vobora. “I think it’s a real nice add to us right now. He had a very good first day. I was anxious to see how he looked with our guys and he fit in very well.”
K.J. Wright. With Hawthorne not expected to play against the Broncos, the fourth-round draft choice is being prepped to start.
“That’s what we’d do right now. We’d go head and go with K.J.,” Carroll said. “Which would be awesome. It would be great to see him in there playing with those guys (the starters). It will be a great experience for him and we’ll learn a lot about him.”
So far, the coaches have liked just about everything they’ve seen from the 6-foot-4 Wright, who was moved to middle linebacker after the release of incumbent starter Lofa Tatupu on July 31. Wright had a team-high eight tackles in the preseason opener against the Chargers and added two tackles plus a quarterback hit against the Vikings.
“He looks solid and he’s tackling well and he’s learning,” Carroll said. “But there are a million things for this Mike linebacker to learn. There’s so much going on, with all the responsibilities at that position. But he’s handling it admirably and this will be a great test.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Offense: Rookie wide receiver Kris Durham jostling with and then getting behind cornerback Kelly Jennings to catch a touchdown pass from Jackson in a 7-on-7 drill.
Defense: Let’s go with two, because they were similar and equally effective. On the first, linebacker Jameson Konz played off a lead block by fullback Michael Robinson to stop a running play before it could get started. On the second, cornerback Marcus Trufant turned fullback Dorson Boyce around with a solid jam to blow up the attempted block as well as the play.
Special teams: Pick one of the five field goals Jeff Reed hit during the special teams portion of practice, and make it the 38-yarder.
IN AND OUT
In addition to the starting linebackers, seven other players also sat out practice: tight end John Carlson (shoulder), left tackle Russell Okung (ankle), strong safety Kam Chancellor (foot), backup center Mike Gibson (undisclosed) and defensive linemen Dexter Davis, Pierre Allen and A.J. Schable (also undisclosed).
With Chancellor out, Josh Pinkard worked at strong safety with the No. 1 defense.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond practiced for the first time since early in training camp, and for the first time in full pads this summer. Carroll said he’s hopeful that Thurmond can play this week. Also back after sitting out the game against the Vikings were defensive end Chris Clemons and wide receiver Ben Obomanu.
Carroll said Carlson is “improving” after injuring his labrum while diving for a pass in practice last weekend. Carlson is aiming to play in the Sept. 2 preseason finale against the Raiders at CenturyLink Field. Okung also could play against the Raiders, Carroll said, although his targeted return is the opener against the 49ers.
The players will practice Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning before flying to Denver on Friday for Saturday night’s game.
Carroll said the starters are expected to play into the third quarter against the Broncos, in what will be their longest stint of the preseason.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I hit it 2½ feet (from the pin), but I think his shot was better.” – Jay Don Blake, a member of the Senior PGA tour, on Whitehurst hitting the flag with his second shot in the now-annual close-to-the-pin competition after practice but still finishing second to Blake