At the conclusion of the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday, coach Pete Carroll said, “The ‘varsity’ is not here yet, so we’ll see how that goes.”
The “varsity” returned today, as the veterans kicked off the third and final week in Phase 2 of the offseason program. Also on field for the 45-minute session were nine of the team’s 10 draft choices – defensive end Bruce Irvin, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Robert Turbin, linebacker Korey Toomer, cornerback Jeremy Lane, on-the-mend safety Winston Guy, guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive end Greg Scruggs; as well as six of the 10 rookies who were signed as free agents after the draft – wide receiver Phil Bates, tight end Sean McGrath, on-the-mend defensive back DeShawn Shead, guard Rishaw Johnson, defensive end Cordarro Law and kicker Carson Wiggs.
Things weren’t quite the same for the rookies, however. Just ask Bates, who went from Wilson’s go-to target during the minicamp to when-do-I-get-to-go-in status with the return of the veterans. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Bates caught four passes in one drill on Sunday, only to get four reps – total – today.
But Bates was smiling nonetheless after spending most of the workout studying the play-card with Dave Canales, and then staying out after the session to get a little extra instruction from the team’s offensive quality control coach.
“It was actually a lot different, but I kind of expected that,” Bates said. “It didn’t matter. I’m just trying to get in and learn as much as I can.”
Bates is just one of the intriguing prospects signed this year by general manager John Schneider and Carroll in the long line of players with unique qualities they have been compiling since joining the Seahawks in January of 2010. Bates’ learning curve is bit steeper, however, because he was an option QB at Ohio University for two seasons before switching to receiver last year – and catching 15 passes for 197 yards.
“I’m just trying to make sure I grab something new every day – make sure I just keep building and just keep going,” Bates said. “That’s the goal every day: Just try to get better.”
Bates was one of the better players at the minicamp, making plays from Friday’s first practice to Sunday’s final practice.
Now, he’ll have to wait his turn in a crowded wide-out group that includes Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving as a rookie free agent last season; an eclectic group of veterans that includes Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler and Ricardo Lockette; and, eventually, Sidney Rice and Mike Williams, the incumbent starters who remain sidelined while recovering from surgery.