A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 11 during the second day of the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp:
Chris Harper. When it comes to a show of hands, the Seahawks’ fourth-round draft choice is showing great hands.
It was after Friday’s first practice that coach Pete Carroll offered, “Chris caught to ball beautifully. He really has great hands.”
Harper felt he played even better in the second practice.
“It went way better today than yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday, you just kind of didn’t know what to expect and just didn’t get into the flow and the pace because this is a lot different pace than what you’re used to in college.”
Better yet, receivers coach Kippy Brown agreed with the assessments made by Carroll and Harper.
“Chris has really strong hands and for a big guy he’s very athletic,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of him learning. We’ve thrown a lot at these guys in two days’ time. I’m sure their heads are swimming. My head was swimming when I first got here.
“But he’s studying hard and he’s getting it. As he gets more comfortable with it, he’ll play faster and that’s what we’re looking for.”
For Harper, it continues to be an exercise in working on his transition game. He was, after all, originally a quarterback at the University of Oregon before switching positions and schools (to Kansas State).
“I’ve still got a long ways to go,” he said. “I’ve only been playing wide receiver for almost three years now, so I can learn from everybody.”
If today’s practice was any indication, things are progressing nicely. The highlight of Harper’s day was his over-the-shoulder catch of a pass from Jerrod Johnson after he had gotten behind cornerback O’Hara Fluellen. But Harper also worked himself free to make other catches, and when he wasn’t open he used his 234-pound body to make himself open.
“The fact that he’s 230-something pounds is what we liked,” Carroll said.
Asked about his bulk, Harper offered, “It helps me a lot, because DBs aren’t used to seeing guys that are like 230 playing receiver. So it gives me an advantage, as far as at the point of attack when the ball is in the air. When they want to get into pushing matches, I’ll usually come out on top of those.”
TRYING TO CATCH ON
Justin Veltung. The receiver/returner from the University of Idaho and Puyallup High School is one of the three dozen players at this camp on a tryout basis. And Veltung is making the most of the opportunity.
He was one of the players the Seahawks had in for a pre-draft visit. Veltung showed enough that they invited him back for this camp.
“He’s a smart guy and he knows what to do,” Brown said. “He doesn’t make very many mistakes and so far he’s been real reliable catching the football. So we’ll see.”
Veltung began his second practice by making a nice falling catching of a pass that looked to be beyond his reach. But before it was over he also had worked his way around a defender to catch a pass on the sideline; caught another pass in traffic over the middle; and reached back while in full stride to grab yet another.
As Veltung was making that last catch, The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now?” was blaring from the speakers along the sideline. Talk about right on cue.
CALLING PETER NGUYEN
Peter Nguyen, a 5-foot-7, 179-pound running back from Bellevue High School and the University of Montana, was added to the list of tryout players today.
Another back was needed because Darrell Scott, another tryout player, injured himself in the first drill on Friday.
THE SKINNY ON SCRUGGS
Second-year defensive lineman Greg Scruggs had surgery Thursday to repair a torn ligament in his right knee. A seventh-round draft choice last year, Scruggs was injured during a workout in the veterans’ offseason program.
“He stumbled coming out of a bag drill … tried to catch himself and hyperextended his knee,” Carroll said. “It was just a drill by himself and it’s unfortunate that he hit just exactly wrong.”
Scruggs had two sacks among his six tackles as a rookie, when he played in 11 games.
“He’ll come back quickly from this, but it’s still a long haul for him,” Carroll said.
GIANTS ADD SOME CURRY TO THE MIX
Aaron Curry has found a new NFL home. Another new NFL home.
The former Seahawks’ linebacker and fourth pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft has signed with the Giants, and ESPNNewYork.com has the details.
Curry started 12 games as a rookie and 16 in 2010 for the Seahawks. But he lost the starting job on the strong side to K.J. Wright in 2011 and was traded to the Raiders for a seventh-round draft choice in 2012 and a fifth-round pick in 2013 – which the Seahawks used to select guard J.R. Sweezy (last year) cornerback Tharold Simon (this year).
Curry played in 11 games for the Raiders in 2011 and two games last season before being waived in November.
“We think we have a good opportunity for him to see if he can re-invent himself a little bit and bring something to our linebacking corps,” Giants GM Jerry Reese said. “If he didn’t work out well for us, we wouldn’t be fooling around with this.
“He’s the fourth pick in the draft a few years ago. Obviously, we think he has some talent. We had him graded high back then. We will see what happens.”
MT. RUSHMORE UPDATE
This camp is all about the present, and hopefully future, for the rookies in attendance. But let’s take a moment to revisit the past.
Last week, we asked you to vote on who should be the fourth “head” on a Seahawks Mt. Rushmore, joining Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones. So far, Matt Hasselbeck is leading with 28 percent of the votes, followed by Shaun Alexander (20.9), Kenny Easley (20), Mike Holmgren (15.9), Jacob Green (8.7) and Chuck Knox (6.6).
It’s not too late to cast your vote.
The rookie minicamp will conclude Sunday with a morning practice. Monday, the veterans return to begin the final week in Phase 2 of their offseason program.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s pretty similar, minus the music. I don’t think coach (Nick) Saban would like that.” – defensive tackle Jesse Williams, when asked about the pace of these practices compared to those at Alabama
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 10, when the Seahawks opened their three-day rookie minicamp:
Luke Willson. Oh Canada, indeed. The Seahawks selected the tight end who found his way to Rice University from LaSalle, Ontario, in the fifth round of the NFL Draft because of what his speed might be able to deliver to any already loaded offense.
During the first practice of the team’s three-day minicamp, Willson delivered. And then some.
“He jumped out today. Luke had a very good first day for us,” coach Pete Carroll said after a two-hour practice that was held along the shores of Lake Washington and in 80-degree weather.
“That was probably the brightest spot that you could really see a guy jump out today.”
Not to mention take off, which the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Willson did after taking a pass along the sideline and outrunning defensive backs who are much smaller to the end zone.
“He has really good speed, and it showed up, which is cool to see that on the practice field first day out,” Carroll said.
The right side of the No. 1 offensive line. It was manned by the three linemen who were selected in the seventh round of the draft – Jared Smith at center, Ryan Seymour at guard and Michael Bowie at tackle.
Smith, remember, was a defensive lineman at New Hampshire. As they did with J.R. Sweezy last year, the Seahawks selected Smith with the intention of moving him to offense and line coach Tom Cable has Smith working at center to start with.
“We put him there right from the start to take a look and see if we can utilize his quickness,” Carroll said. “He’s really quick for the offensive side of the ball. He’s got to learn a lot anyway, so stick him in there and make him snap it. He did fine today. He did just fine today for the first time out.”
Carroll used the term “Sweezy-ratio” while referring to Cable’s latest project.
“It’s going to be one of these things where we see if he can stay up with what Sweez did,” Carroll said. “We’re excited about this, though. We’re very fortunate that we found another guy that we can kind of take forward in a similar fashion.”
If only Smith can take it forward in a similar fashion, because last season Sweezy started the final two regular-season games and both playoff games at right guard as a rookie.
FIFTEEN ROOKIES SIGNED
Before the players took to the practice field, 15 rookies signed multi-year contracts – including seven of the team’s 11 draft choices and eight players who agreed to terms after the NFL Draft.
Draft picks signed: DT Jordan Hill (third round), WR Chris Harper (fourth), DT Jesse Williams (fifth), Willson, Seymour, LB Ty Powell (seventh) and Smith.
Rookie free agents signed: WR Matt Austin, OT Alvin Bailey, DE Kenneth Boatright, LB Ramon Buchanan, LB John Lotulelei, S Ray Polk, OG Jordon Roussos and LB Craig Wilkins.
TRYING TO CATCH ON
Among the 67 players at this minicamp are 38 who are here on a tryout basis.
Quarterbacks (2): Murray State’s Casey Brockman, McMurray University’s Jake Mullin
Wide receivers (5): North Carolina State’s Owen Spencer, Idaho’s Justin Veltung, Montana’s Gerald Kemp, Mississippi State’s Arceto Clark, St. Francis’ Austin Coleman
Running backs (1): South Florida’s Darrell Scott
Tight ends (2): University of British Columbia’s Victor Marshall; former pro basketball player Darren Fells, who was released on Wednesday
Offensive linemen (6): West Virginia center/guard Josh Jenkins, Harvard guard John Collins, North Carolina State center Zach Allen, Temple guard Pat Boyle, Washington tackle Drew Schaefer, Minnesota-Duluth tackle Jake Bscherer
Defensive linemen (8): Citadel end Chris Billingslea, Bethune-Cookman tackle Harold Love, Idaho end Benson Mayowa, St. Thomas end Ayo Idowu, Oregon State tackle Andrew Seumalo, Richmond tackle Martin Parker, LSU end Chancey Aghayere, Arkansas end Dequinta Jones
Linebacker (3): North Greenville’s Jonathan Sharpe, Ball State’s Rob Eddins, Oklahoma’s Jaydan Bird
Defensive backs (8): Lincoln cornerback O’Hara Fluellen, BYU cornerback Preston Hadley, Boston College cornerback Jim Noel, Ohio State safety Donald Washington, USC safety Drew McAllister, Texas A&M safety Steve Campbell, Middle Tennessee safety JaJuan Harley, Memphis safety Akeem Davis
Kickers (2): SMU’s Matt Szymanski, Portland State’s Zach Ramirez
Snapper (1): Florida State’s Dax Dallenbach
HEY, AREN’T YOU?
Quarterback Jerrod Johnson isn’t the only player at this camp who has previous experience with an NFL team.
Also on hand: kicker Carson Wiggs, wide receiver Phil Bates, cornerback Chandler Fenner, running back Derrick Coleman, linebacker Kyle Knox, tight end Cooper Helfet, linebacker Korey Toomer and defensive tackle Myles Wade.
While Johnson has been in training camps with the Eagles and Steelers, the other eight were with the Seahawks in training camp last summer and/or spent time on the practice squad last season.
QUITE THE HALL
Cortez Kennedy, Max Unger and Sandy Gregory were inducted into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame during a luncheon ceremony today.
Kennedy, an eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, is the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. Unger, a second-round draft choice in 2009 out of the University of Oregon, was selected the All-Pro center last season and also played in his first Pro Bowl. Gregory is the last of the Seahawks’ original employees, having joined the franchise on March 1, 1976.
The players will practice again on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and then conclude the minicamp with an 11:30 a.m. practice on Sunday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Right now, what I’m hoping is that they try really hard and they work hard at studying and they show us kind of what their natural way is. We told them we’re looking for the competitiveness, and show us that first. They’re not going to do their assignments all right. They’re not going to be technique sound. But to show us they have real good spirit about them and goodwill about them and can be competitive on a football team, that’s most important.” – Carroll on what he’s looking for from this three-day camp
The folks at Pro Football Talk will launch a 32-part series next month that features a Mt. Rushmore for each of the NFL teams, and they’ll eventually be asking for reader input on the Seahawks.
Why wait for them to get around to the Seahawks?
The first three faces for the Seahawks’ Mt. Rushmore are slam-dunk selections. As with most things Seahawks, the best place to start is with Steve Largent. He was not only the first career-long member of the team to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (in 1995), but when Largent retired after the 1989 season he held the NFL career records for receptions (819), receiving yards (13,089) and touchdown catches (100).
No other player in franchise history can come close to making such a claim. Then there is this trifecta of facts: He was the first player to have his uniform number (80) retired; the first inductee into the team’s Ring of Honor (1989); and each season since 1989 the Steve Largent Award has been presented to the person “who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks.”
The other obvious Rushmore-worthy players are defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who joined Largent in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and is the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history; and left tackle Walter Jones, who was voted to a franchise-record nine Pro Bowls, selected the best player in the NFL in 2006 by The Sporting News and should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection in 2015.
But who should join this impressive trio as the fourth cornerstone in franchise history – and fourth face on the Seahawks’ Mt. Rushmore? You make the call (from this list that was compiled with a little help from a friend):
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on April 27:
1982: Jeff Bryant is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Bryant would team with fellow defensive end Jacob Green and nose tackle Joe Nash to form what they called “The Diehard.” Why? “Because we always start,” Green explained. And that they did, from 1983 through 1989. In 1990, after selecting tackle Cortez Kennedy in the first round of the draft, coach Chuck Knox switched to a four-man defensive line and Bryant eventually became the only player in franchise history to start at all four spots.
2012: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (second round) and quarterback Russell Wilson (third round) are selected in the NFL Draft. Wagner would lead the team in tackles and finish second in voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Wilson not only became the starter, he threw 26 touchdown passes to tie the league’s rookie record that was set by Peyton Manning in 1998, finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and played in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
In past years, we’ve asked you to weigh-in on the best selections by round in the NFL Draft for the Seahawks, and also to vote on the best draft choice in franchise history.
But which was the single best day in the draft for the Seahawks?
The idea for this poll was planted during a hallway conversation at Virginia Mason Athletic Center with one of the team’s scouts, as we discussed what the team was able to accomplish on the second day of the 2012 draft.
That’s when Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were selected in the second and third rounds. If you’re not familiar with their contributions to the team going 11-5 during the regular season and winning the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983, well, you probably have no business voting in this poll.
But as a not-so-subtle reminder: Wagner led the Seahawks’ No. 4-ranked defense in tackles and finished second in balloting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; while Wilson tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes and finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
But was that the best single-day draft performance in club history? Here are three others to consider:
1990: The Seahawks began the day by trading up to the No. 3 spot in the first round with the Patriots to select defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who became the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer. But before that first day was over, the Seahawks also had added linebacker Terry Wooden and strong safety Robert Blackmon (second round) and eventual Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren (fourth round).
2010: In the first draft under GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, in the first draft where it was expanded to three days and the first round only was conducted on the first day, the Seahawks selected Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick overall and then added All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick.
1997: The Seahawks also had two first-round picks this year, and used them to selected Pro Bowl cornerback Shawn Springs (third pick overall) and All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones (sixth pick). While Springs was a solid starter for seven seasons, Jones was voted to more Pro Bowls (nine) than any player in franchise history and already has had his No. 71 retired. The 1-2 punch of Springs and Jones also trumps the other two years when the team had two picks in the first round – 2000 (Shaun Alexander and Chris McIntosh) and 2001 (Koren Robinson and Steve Hutchinson).
But which one day was the best day? You make the call …
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on April 22:
1990: The Seahawks trade up to the third spot in the first round of the NFL Draft and select defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy. He would be voted to eight Pro Bowls and named NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1992) during his career, and last year the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006, had his No. 96 retired last season and was voted the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team.
1995: Joey Galloway is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Galloway would lead the Seahawks in receptions for three consecutive seasons (1996-98) and catch 37 touchdown passes before being traded to the Cowboys for a pair of first-round draft choices in 2000.
2008: Shaun Alexander, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, is released. After being named league MVP and leading the NFL in rushing with 1,880 yards in 2005, injuries limited Alexander to fewer than 1,000 rushing yards in 2006 and 2007.
2010: Russell Okung and Earl Thomas are selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Okung, a left tackle and the sixth pick overall, started 15 games in 2012 and was voted to the Pro Bowl. Thomas, a free safety and the 14th pick overall, was voted Al-Pro last season and has played in the Pro Bowl the past two seasons.
Russell Wilson has advanced – convincingly – in the New School bracket of the online-voting competition to determine who will grace the cover of the Madden NFL 25 video game. But Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy was eliminated in the first round of the Old School bracket – even more convincingly.
Wilson, who just completed his rookie season as the Seahawks quarterback, got 88 percent of the 658,888 votes in his first-round matchup against Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Wilson now faces Broncos pass-rusher Von Miller in the second round, with voting taking place through March 27.
Kennedy, however, was ousted by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders – who got 93 percent of the 639,251 votes cast in their first-round matchup. Sanders is matched against former Broncos running back Terrell Davis in the second round.
Voting in the opening round of the “Bracketology” competition to determine who graces the cover of the wildly popular Madden NFL 25 video game concludes today, so this is your last chance to vote for Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy in the Old School half of the bracket and quarterback Russell Wilson in the New School half.
Kennedy is matched against Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, while Wilson is going against Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon. You can cast your vote here. Voting for the first-round matchups began on March 11.
The widely popular Madden NFL is going old school to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the video game, and among those in the running to be on the cover from the Old School bracket is Seahawks Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy.
As for the New School bracket, quarterback Russell Wilson is the Seahawks’ representative.
Kennedy is matched against Deion Sanders in the first round, while Wilson’s “opponent” is the Jaguars’ Justin Blackmon.
Voting in the first-round matchups started today and will continue through March 20. The finals will take place from April 17-24.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on March 8:
2001: Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy is released after 11 seasons with the Seahawks. Kennedy leaves as the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history. He would be added to the team’s Ring of Honor in 2006 and voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
2010: Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace is traded to the Browns. Wallace was 5-9 as a starter during his seven-season stay in Seattle.