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Tuesday cyber surfing: Reviewing the offseason, and the rookie minicamp

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 15:

Mike Sando at ESPN.com offers a glance at the Seahawks’ offseason, including what went right – with a couple of items you might have forgotten or overlooked: “The Seahawks signed quarterback Matt Flynn in free agency without paying an exorbitant price. That made it easier to justify using a third-round choice for quarterback Russell Wilson. … Re-signing Marshawn Lynch before free agency and Red Bryant during free agency was critical. Lynch is the focal point of the offense. His running style became inseparable from the Seahawks’ identity on offense. Bryant was the most important defensive player against the run and a leader in the locker room. … Highly valued offensive line coach Tom Cable returned to the team after some speculation that a college program such as UCLA might consider him as head coach. … Free-agent defensive tackle Jason Jones chose Seattle over St. Louis at a reasonable price, making it easier for the Seahawks to part with Anthony Hargrove, who subsequently incurred an eight-game suspension. … The linebacker market was soft enough for Seattle to bring back Leroy Hill without overpaying.”

In her “Between the Tackles” feature at ESPN.com, Ashley Fox tackles the Seahawks’ QB situation now that coach Pete Carroll has added Wilson to the mix for the starting job: “Given that the Seahawks signed Flynn to a three-year, $26 million deal in free agency, he would seem to be the front-runner for the job. But Carroll has said that (Tarvaris) Jackson, who started the final 10 games of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, will get first crack at the first-team reps. Then Flynn. Then, presumably, Wilson. There is nothing wrong with competition in May and June, but if it lingers too long into training camp, it could prove counterproductive. Whoever is going to be the starter will need all the reps he can get.”

ESPN.com also has a survey where you can rank your favorite sports franchise.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times offers some impressions from the rookie minicamp, including this one: “In a draft where the Seahawks surprised a number of people, (Korey) Toomer was perhaps the most under-the-radar selection. A linebacker Idaho recruited out of junior college, he missed the 2010 season after breaking his hand, and while he played well as a senior, he was not invited to the combine. He is long-armed and fast with incredible athleticism. His vertical leap measured 42 inches in a workout, and he looked every bit as athletic as advertised in this first weekend of workouts. He’s playing strongside linebacker, a spot that is locked down by K.J. Wright now, but it’s possible Toomer could land a role in the Seahawks’ nickel defense sooner, rather than later.”

In his “Shutdown Corner” at YahooSports.com, Doug Farrar says the Seahawks could reap dividends from the surprising picks of Wilson and Bruce Irvin, the pass-rusher who was selected in the first round: “While Irvin (the 15th overall pick) impressed through the Seahawks’ 2012 rookie minicamp, the real news came via Wilson, who showed impressive command of an NFL offense in his first opportunity to do so. Despite standing 5-foot-10 5/8 – a fact that had a lot of draft experts rating him as a fourth-round prospect – Wilson displayed many of the positive aspects required for his position. He was consistently nifty in the pocket, rolled out to throw very well, threw his receivers open downfield over and over, and sold play-action like a pro. Head coach Pete Carroll was beyond impressed – with Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis already on the roster, Carroll insisted that Wilson had already done enough to be in the running for the starting quarterback competition. If Wilson won the job before the season started, he would be just the second third-round quarterback in NFL history to claim that prize – Buffalo’s Joe Ferguson did the same in 1973.”

Also at YahooSports.com, Jason Cole wonders if Pete Carroll has commitment issues because of his decision to turn the QB situation into a three-man competition: “But shouldn’t the Seahawks have had an answer by now as to who will be their top option for a long-term successor to Matt Hasselbeck? Shouldn’t there be some sense of commitment to Matt Flynn, the former Green Bay backup who was signed in free agency? Shouldn’t Tarvaris Jackson get more than one season to show his ability? ‘At some point, we’re going to have to make that decision and that’s up to Pete to find out how that’s going to unfold,’ Schneider said. ‘We wanted to do it like in Green Bay, where we had a guy and we were always developing someone.’ OK, but … ‘Eventually you have to find someone and settle on that guy. We all realize that.’ “

Alex Marvez at FoxSports.com has a photo gallery of his 32 breakout players in the league for 2012, and he selects K.J. Wright for the Seahawks: “A 2011 fourth-round pick, Wright immediately displayed far better instincts at linebacker than 2009 first-rounder Aaron Curry ever did in Seattle. Wright’s quick emergence led to Curry being traded to Oakland midway through last season. Wright should be even more effective in 2012 since the Seahawks chose two front-seven defenders (pass-rush end Bruce Irvin and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner) in the first two rounds of April’s draft. ”

Here at Seahawks.com, “Monday Metatarsal Musings” makes a rare offseason appearance so we can review the weekend rookie minicamp: “When the Seahawks said they were bringing in 30-something players on a tryout basis to flush out the roster for their three-day rookie minicamp, my initial thought was good luck with that. And that was followed quickly by visions of offensive linemen running into one another while trying to block for a running play; cornerbacks colliding with receivers, and vice versa, on pass plays; and just a mish-mash of mangled assignments. It didn’t happen. None of it. The players – a group that also included the team’s 10 draft choices and 10 other rookie free agents who had been signed after the draft – went through two-hour practices on Friday and Saturday and a final 100-minute session on Sunday. While it wasn’t exclusively an exercise in precision, it was closer to that than the maddening mayhem it could have been.”

We’ve also got a look at the rookies joining the offseason program, and Carroll’s reflections of his draft experience (this one is worth checking out just to see the picture of Carroll as a safety at Pacific).

Remember Brandon Coutu? Sure you do. The kicker, and former Seahawks’ draft choice, has signed with the Jaguars, according to the team’s website.


Cyber surfing: Tuesday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Aug. 16:

Dave Boling of the News Tribune catches up with Brandon Coutu, who was with the Seahawks during the 2008 season but never kicked in a game and has been out of the league the past two seasons. He’s back to challenge Jeff Reed for the spot that opened when Olindo Mare signed with the Panthers in free agency. Says Boling: “Brief history: Coutu, in possession of an impressive college resume at Georgia, was drafted in the seventh round in 2008. The Seahawks also signed the veteran Mare, who had struggled with a groin injury with New Orleans the previous season. Coutu made all seven of his exhibition field-goal attempts that summer, while Mare proved he was back to health and was also powerful with kickoffs. Since roster spots on NFL teams are precious, it’s rare for teams to keep two placekickers. The situation appeared to make Coutu a pawn in a power play between general manager Tim Ruskell and coach Mike Holmgren. Having made him a draft choice, Ruskell had equity in Coutu. But Holmgren liked the veteran. Ruskell asserted that other teams wanted Coutu and the only way he could protect him for the future was to keep him on the roster. All the while, Holmgren saw his team crushed by injuries and in need of manpower at other positions on its way to a 4-12 season. But both Mare and Coutu were kept on the roster. Coutu remained employed but inactive. Mare responded with a season of 24-of-27 accuracy and eventually set a franchise record by making 30 in a row into the next season.”

Also at the News Tribune, Eric Williams recaps Marshawn Lynch’s first interview session of training camp. Says Williams: “Lynch said he still gets comments from people on his electrifying 67-yard run in the NFC wild card game against New Orleans, which sealed a 41-36 win. ‘I’ve watched it several times,’ he said. ‘People might email it to me. I might look over at somebody’s phone if somebody recognizes me, and they’re looking at it to make sure that’s really me. And so I’ve seen it quite a few times.’ ”

Jerry Brewer at the Seattle Times talked with free safety Earl Thomas after Monday’s walk-thru. Says Brewer: “For a player with Earl Thomas’ talent, the football field must seem like an open highway without a speed limit. He can do anything out there. He puts the “elect” in electric; thrills are always on his ballot. It’s his greatest gift. And it’s his biggest flaw.”

Also at the Times, Danny O’Neil looks at new offensive line coach Tom Cable. Says O’Neil: “He demands everything be done on the hop, and that includes a trip to the water cooler during a break. ‘We go very fast,’ center Max Unger said. That’s because Seattle has a long way to go, and a short time to get there. The Seahawks are three weeks deep into training camp, and Cable wants Seattle’s ground game to improve at the same pace he runs his practice: fast.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we also take a look at Lynch, but from a different angle – the alarming stiff-arm that is fast becoming his calling card. And the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” could have been coined to describe the photo Rod Mar has to go with these words: “But others who have seen it – and especially those who have tasted it – know just how effective it can be in helping Lynch relocate would-be tacklers. The Seahawks have not had a back with a stiff-arm as sudden and powerful as Lynch’s since fullback John L. Williams was pushing his way into the Pro Bowl in the early 1990s. Ricky Watters could dish out a good one, but it didn’t pack the explosive wallop that Lynch delivers. The origin of Lynch’s stiff-arm is as unclear as when and why he uses it. ‘I don’t know where it comes from. It just kind of happens,’ Lynch said Monday after a walk-thru at the team’s training camp. ‘It’s not anything planned, like, ‘OK, on this run I’m going to throw a stiff-arm or I’m going to run someone over.’ I don’t plan any moves. I just react to what I’m faced with.’ ”

We also have a recap of the walk-thru in words and video, including the promising development that was left tackle Russell Okung getting on the field for a few early snaps just four days after being carted off the field in the preseason opener with a sprained ankle.

Mike Sando at ESPN.com examines the growth of bigger wide-outs in the division. Notes Sando: “The NFC West now has more receivers listed at 6-5 than it has listed at 5-10.” The Seahawks are leaders in this pack with 6-5 Mike Williams and 6-4 Sidney Rice as their starters.


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Camp Carroll: Day 3 (p.m. edition)

A recap of the afternoon walk-thru at Seahawks’ training camp:

FOCUS ON

Sidney Rice. The team’s new big-play – and big – wide receiver admits he didn’t know a lot about the Seahawks when he signed with them in free agency this week.

But the former Pro Bowl wide-out for the Minnesota Vikings did know two very important individuals who played into his decision: offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who were with the Vikings the past five seasons.

“It’s great, it’s always good to be around familiar people – people you know well,” the 6-foot-4 Rice said after the 85-minute walk-thru that was held in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

“Tarvaris is one of my closest friends ever since I came into the league. I used to hang out at his place all the time; vice versa he’d come over to my place. I feel comfortable being around him. Also Bevell. Know the offense and didn’t have to learn anything knew.”

Now Rice and Jackson, as well as Bevell, are in the same place again – in large part because the Seahawks knew a lot more about Rice than he did about them.

“I think Sidney is an incredible player,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We looked at everything that he’s done; every catch that he’s made since he’s been in the league to evaluate him.

“He has an extraordinary sense for finding the football with people all over him. He’s tough. He’s physical. He’s creative and he’s got the special confidence that great catchers have.”

Where does that come from? “Just working,” Rice said. “Probably God-given ability, but you’ve also got to work at those things – the extra work after practice, staying out there doing the drills and things like that.”

Rice can’t start practicing until Aug. 4, but when he does he’ll be working opposite Mike Williams, the 6-5 split end who led the team in receptions last season.

“I know he’s got a great knack for the ball, coming down with it,” Rice said. “I’m looking forward to lining up on the opposite side of him. It’s going to be fun.”

POSITION WATCH

Quarterback. Carroll’s announcement after the morning practice that Jackson would be the starter caught reporters by surprise, and left incumbent backup Charlie Whitehurst disappointed but determined.

“It’s not necessarily what I wanted to hear, but it’s something I’ve got to live with and go from here and just keep competing every day,” Whitehurst said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming into camp with the quarterback situation. I just wanted a chance, and I’m here. I’ve got a chance.

“Like I said, it’s not necessarily how I wanted it to start out, but I respect the fact that (Carroll) was direct with me and told me. I’m just going to try and make the decision tougher. Tarvaris is a heckuva football player and we’re just going to compete every day.”

Jackson won’t enter the on-field competition, however, until he is allowed to start practicing on Aug 4. So Whitehurst will continue to run the No. 1 offense.

“That will be good for me, to see how fast I can get this playbook learned and try to compete against him as hard as I can,” Whitehurst said.

JUST FOR KICKS

The search for a veteran kicker to compete with rookie free agent Wes Byrum has led the team to a former seventh-round draft choice: Brandon Coutu.

Coutu, who was with the team in 2008, was re-signed today. He never kicked in a regular-season game during his first stint with the club because then-coach Mike Holmgren went with the experience and stronger leg of Olindo Mare. But Mare signed this week with the Carolina Panthers.

Coutu converted each of his seven field-goal attempts during his rookie preseason, but was inactive for all 16 regular-season games. He returned in 2009, but was waived before the regular-season opener.

PLAYS OF THE DAY

Offense: Veteran guard Robert Gallery, who just signed with the team Friday and isn’t eligible to begin practicing until Aug. 4, coaching up rookie right tackle James Carpenter after a play.

Defense: Linebacker Aaron Curry flashing into the backfield to arrive at Ben Obomanu before he ever got going on an end-around.

UP NEXT

The team will practice once Sunday, starting at 1:30 p.m. The session is open to the public and you can register to attend here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I felt like in Minnesota he was never let loose, never allowed to play comfortably like I know he can play. I feel like he’ll get that opportunity out here to prove all those guys who think he’s not an NFL quarterback wrong.” – Rice on Jackson


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Coutu signed

The race to replace veteran kicker Olindo Mare just became a two-legged affair.

Brandon Coutu, a seventh-round draft choice by the Seahawks in 2008, has been signed to challenge rookie free agent Wes Byrum for the job that opened this week when Mare signed with the Carolina Panthers.

Coutu was seven of seven on field goals during his rookie preseason and made the 53-man roster, but he was inactive for every regular-season game as the team went with Mare’s experience and stronger leg. Coutu was released prior to the 2009 season and has been out of the league since then.


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