Friday in Hawkville: Sweezy sees improvement at new position

A recap of the activities surrounding the Seahawks’ Bing Training Camp for August 3.

FOCUS ON

J.R. Sweezy. The first of Seattle’s two seventh round choices in this year’s draft, the former North Carolina State defensive lineman was drafted to play offensive line for Head Coach Pete Carroll, and more specifically, for Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable.

In practice today, Sweezy saw a lot of work running with the number one offensive line unit at both left and right guard. Carroll has commented that Sweezy is out there with the ones strictly to get more and more reps each day, and Sweezy is taking every chance he gets to learn a little bit more about his new position.

“I’m definitely learning more being in there with the first team,” Sweezy said. “Those guys know this offense like the back of their hand. They’ve helped me a lot. I still don’t know it as well as I should, but going with that first-team O-line helps a lot.”

The transition from the aggressive style of play a defensive lineman dictates to the more sit-back, wait-and-react approach of an offensive lineman has to be nothing short of mind-boggling for Sweezy, who admits there has been quite the learning curve.

“It was rough in OTAs to start,” Sweezy said. “I was completely confused. At first I was too aggressive. On defense my whole life I’ve been taught to play at a 45-degree angle and now I have to sit back and wait and not lunge at people. When you lunge as an offensive lineman you get beat every time, so it’s a matter of me staying back on my heels.”

“But now I’m starting to get it. It’s starting to make sense and I’m having fun.”

And it sure looked like it made sense to Sweezy today as he participated in the team’s 9-on-7 run blocking drill. With Leon Washington in the backfield, Sweezy – at left guard – sealed his man to the inside of the line before bouncing off the block and finding linebacker Heath Farwell five yards down field to spring Washington for a healthy gain.

Much of Sweezy’s improvement can be directly linked to the offensive line guru Cable, who personally worked out and talked with Sweezy prior to April’s draft.

“He’s the best,” Sweezy said of Cable’s approach to coaching the offensive line. “He’s already taught me so much. I’ve learned a ton in this past few weeks span. Every day I fill up two pages of my notebook with information that he’s teaching me and helping me with, and I’m continuing to get better every day.”

ROOKIE WATCH

A little change-up from Farnsworth’s ‘Unit Watch’ section, as we take a look at rookie Sean McGrath, the undrafted free-agent tight end out of Division II’s Henderson State (Ark.). McGrath was the only player to score in the team’s two-minute drill during Friday’s practice, which featured drives from each of the three quarterbacks – Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson, and Matt Flynn – starting at their own 35-yard line. Running with the third unit, McGrath received a 10-yard strike from Flynn with two seconds left in the drill on a slant route over the middle, falling into the end zone for a score.

“That starts up front with the offensive line first and foremost,” McGrath said. “I’m just doing what they tell me to, following the examples of the veterans, and just trying to work to get better in camp.”

A humble answer from a hard-working individual.

Earlier in the same drill, Flynn lured the defense offside and took a shot for McGrath 20 yards down field, who made the grab on his knees. McGrath has stood out with his hustle and work ethic during camp thus far, and it seems to be paying dividends.

“It’s just a privilege and an honor to play football and do what I love to do for a living,” McGrath said. “I’m just going to keep on having fun doing what I love doing. Playing here with coach Carroll and the whole staff, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to be.”

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: Today’s practice featured a little more offensive prowess than Thursday’s defensive-dominated session. The offensive play of the day came on a ball from rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who received the majority of the first-team reps today. Wilson tossed a beauty of a deep ball down the left sideline for a streaking Golden Tate who was on a straight-go pattern against cornerback Brandon Browner. Running at full speed the entire way, Tate slowed down just enough to adjust his body to the ball from Wilson, who dropped it right in Tate’s breadbasket over the top of the 6-4 Pro Bowl corner Browner. In the one-on-one receiver drills, it was more Tate, as he cut inside to beat cornerback Ron Parker to the middle of the field on a ball from quarterback Matt Flynn, then, upon receiving the football, spun back to his outside shoulder and headed toward the sideline for a healthy amount of yards after the catch. In the team’s 11-on-11 drill rookie wide receiver Phil Bates took a reverse handoff up the right sideline for a big gain with the help of some quality down-field blocking by fellow rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei.

Defense: In the team’s 9-on-7 run defense drill left tackle Russell Okung sealed his man to the inside in a play that appeared to have freed running back Leon Washington loose from the backfield, but Earl Thomas’ instincts took over to disrupt the play, as the lightning-quick Pro Bowl safety met Washington right at the hole in the line of scrimmage to stuff the play for no gain. Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin showed some very impressive get-off during one-on-one lineman drills, beating offensive lineman Alex Barron to the quarterback in what was a battle of first-round draft picks. Defensive tackle Jason Jones showed some surprising get-up for a 6-5, 276 pound defensive tackle, leaping in the air and extending his long arm to swat down a Tarvaris Jackson pass at the line of scrimmage in the team’s 11-on-11 session toward the end of practice.

IN ‘N OUT

Cornerback Ron Parker returned to practice after sitting out Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday’s practices. Parker had last saw the practice field on Sunday, July 29.

Eight players players did not practice – wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Antonio Bryant, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebackers Bobby Wagner, Matt McCoy, and Jameson Konz, offensive lineman James Carpenter, and cornerback Walter Thurmond. Carpenter and Thurmond remain on the physically unable to perform list.

UP NEXT

The players have a walkthrough and meetings this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow, which is the final practice slotted for 10:15 a.m. of the entire camp. Sunday’s practice moves to 1:15 p.m. and is set to feature a “mock game” between the squads.

JOIN THE CROWD

Today’s practice attracted more than 1,000 fans, as well as another fly by from the Navy’s Blue Angels, who are in town for Seattle’s Sea Fair weekend.

Also seen at today’s practice – a C-17 cargo plane rumbled over the Seahawks three practice fields at VMAC prior to the booming Blue Angels. Mother Nature was not shy to show her face as well, as a lone deer frolicked along the western bank of Lake Washington, while a bald eagle circled the nearby shores.

Seven practices remain open to the public, including Saturday and Sunday’s practices, which are the final weekend practices of camp. You can register to attend a practice session here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I’d probably try to be like [U.S. Olympic athlete and all-around gymnastics gold medalist] Gabby [Douglas], and practice that. I’d try to do some flips or something like that. I wouldn’t be very good at it, but I’d train myself. Not the outfit, though. The outfit wouldn’t fit me.” – Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson when asked what sport he would compete in if he were to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games.


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