It’s official, Tarvaris Jackson is a member of the Seahawks. Again.
The team’s starting quarterback in 2011 agreed to contract terms late Thursday and the signing became official today. To clear a spot on the 90-man roster, quarterback Jerrod Johnson was released.
There was speculation about Jackson’s return as soon as the Bills released him on Tuesday. Jackson flew to Seattle on Thursday, was given a physical and then a contract.
Coach Pete Carroll is happy to have him back, and competing with Brady Quinn to be the backup to starting QB Russell Wilson.
“I think it’s a great boost for us in a competitive sense,” Carroll said Thursday. “We thought of Tarvaris as a tremendously tough football player and competitive kid that battled for us.”
That was in 2011, when Jackson was signed in free agency following the 136-day lockout and named the starter because of he had played under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota when both were with the Vikings. Without an offseason, Jackson’s knowledge of, and comfort with, the system Bevell was installing with the Seahawks gave the team a competitive edge, as Carroll put it at the time.
Jackson started 14 games, but played the second half of the season with an injured pectoral in his passing shoulder. He passed for 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns.
But after Matt Flynn was signed in free agency and Wilson added in the draft last year, Jackson became expendable and was traded to the Bills. Despite not playing a snap last season, the Bills re-signed Jackson this offseason, only to release him.
With Flynn being traded to the Raiders in April, and Quinn signed to fill his role as the backup, the chance to reacquire Jackson and spike the competition for the No. 2 spot was one Carroll and general manager John Schneider couldn’t pass up.
“We’re seizing the opportunity that one of our guys is out there and we can bring him back in,” Carroll said. “And he’ll be able to help us.”
Quarterback Josh Portis has been released, the team announced today.
Portis signed with the Seahawks as rookie free agent in 2011, when he made the 53-man roster as the No. 3 QB. He was inactive for 15 games and the backup in one because then-starter Tarvaris Jackson was injured. Portis was released from the practice squad last November and re-signed with Seattle on April 3.
Portis had been competing for a backup spot behind starter Russell Wilson with Brady Quinn, a former first-round draft choice by the Browns who was signed in free agency last month; and Jerrod Johnson, who also was signed last month.
A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 12 during the final day of the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp:
Tharold Simon. In case you haven’t noticed, Pete Carroll likes his cornerbacks tall, long and physical. And the Seahawks’ coach thinks he has found another one in Simon, a 6-foot-2, 202-pounder who was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft.
“He did a good job,” Carroll said during his minicamp wrap-up Q&A with the media. “He fits the profile of the big guys that we like. He’s long. He’s an aggressive kid. He has good savvy, can anticipate routes and things.
“By the time we get him to (training) camp, I would think he can compete with our guys. He looked kind of in the fashion of guys that we like.”
Today, Simon was working on the right side with the No. 1 defense – the spot where 6-4, 221-pound Brandon Browner has been the starter the past two seasons. Saturday, Simon got some snaps on the left side – where 6-3, 195-pound Richard Sherman developed into an All-Pro corner last season after moving into the starting lineup midway through his rookie season in 2011.
The incumbent backups are Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane, and Byron Maxwell – each a draft choice since Carroll arrived in 2010, as well as second-year pro DeShawn Shead.
MAKE THAT OH’HARA FLUELLEN
O’Hara Fluellen, a cornerback from Lincoln, was one of the 37 players at this camp on the tryout basis. Today, he made several nice plays – tipping away a pass intended for draft-choice wide receiver Chris Harper along the sideline; jumping in front of the receiver to intercept a pass thrown by tryout QB Jake Mullin; and deflecting another pass to draft-choice tight end Luke Willson.
Asked if there were any surprises among the tryout contingent, Carroll singled out Justin Veltung, a wide receiver from the University of Idaho and Puyallup High School; and Benson Mayowa, a defensive end from Idaho.
“(Veltung) did a nice job,” Carroll said. “And No. 70 (Mayowa) jumped out; he was pretty fast on the edge.
“There were a number of guys that showed some stuff. We’ve got some big decisions to make to try and figure out how we’re going to round out the roster here with five or six guys.”
Which of the tryout players is signed remains to be seen.
“It’s unfortunate, because this is a very difficult team to make and fewer of these guys will get the opportunity to do that,” Carroll said. “But those who do will have earned it and if they can make it through the rigors of camp and early preseason, it will be really exciting.
“Some of these guys won’t play football again. This might have been their last day on a football field. So we tried to show them that we really did appreciate and respect the heck out of what they did for us.”
The veterans return on Monday to begin the final week in Phase 2 of their offseason program, and the lines during drills will be longer because the team’s 11 draft choices and seven of the eight rookie free agents signed after the draft also will be on hand.
“We’re already picturing how (the rookies) are going to fit in,” Carroll said. “The way to do it really is that we’re going to try and champion the strengths that they have – put them in situations where they can be successful early; not ask them to do a lot of things that are unfamiliar to them. With the thought of trying to build their confidence and a sense that they belong and can fit it. Then we’ll expand.”
YOU DON’T SAY
“The grade-school kids are harder than any defense I’ve ever seen.” – quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who was an elementary school teacher between his training-camp stints with the Eagles and Steelers
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 Seahawks added a fourth quarterback today, signing former Texas A&M passer Jerrod Johnson.
The 6-foot-5, 251-pound Johnson was not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, but signed with the Eagles in July following the 136-day lockout. He was released on Aug. 18 and signed with the Hartford Colonials of the UFL. He then signed with the Steelers in January of 2012, but was waived on Aug. 31. Johnson then played for the UFL’s Sacramento Mountain Lions.
While at Texas A&M, Johnson completed 242 consecutive passes without an interception, and in 2009 passed for 3,579 yards and 30 touchdowns.
With the Seahawks, Johnson joins a QB situation where Russell Wilson is entrenched as the starter after his impressive rookie season; Brady Quinn was signed in free agency this month to be the backup, replacing Matt Flynn after he was traded to the Raiders; and Josh Portis, the team’s No. 3 QB in 2011, was recently re-signed.
Johnson tweeted the following earlier this afternoon, coupled with the picture below from his Instagram account: