Defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer, a former first-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers, has been released by the Seahawks.
Running back Vai Taua was re-signed to fill Balmer’s spot on the 90-man roster. Taua was signed Aug. 14, but then released Monday. The rookie free agent from Nevada rushed for 15 yards on two carries in Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Vikings.
Balmer was acquired in a trade with the 49ers last August and started 11 games during the regular season and both playoff games because of injuries to end Red Bryant and tackle Brandon Mebane – they were the first starts of Balmer’s three-year NFL career. He finished with 43 tackles, including a career-high eight against the Giants in Week 9.
But Balmer, who did not play against the Vikings, became expendable because the Seahawks signed Alan Branch and Jimmy Wilkerson in free agency last month. Branch is starting as the three-technique tackle, while Wilkerson can play that spot as well as at the five-technique end – the two positions where Balmer filled in last season.
A recap of the afternoon walk-thru at Seahawks’ training camp on Monday:
Charlie Whitehurst. Saturday, he got the word from coach Pete Carroll that just-acquired Tarvaris Jackson would be the starting quarterback because of his familiarity with the offense being installed by new coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Today, the team’s incumbent backup stepped up to the challenge by turning in his best day of camp.
Whitehurst was sharp in the morning practice, when the players worked outside for almost 2½ hours in helmets and shoulder pads. It carried over to the 70-minute walk-thru that was held in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
“Charlie has responded very well, he’s taken it like a pro,” Bevell said. “The thing is, coach (Carroll) explained it to him well. One, you’re up front with him and then, two, (Jackson) has it because he knows the system.”
That’s because Jackson played for Bevell the past five seasons, when they were with the Minnesota Vikings. That history in the system will help the offense and the team in this condensed “offseason” after the 136-day lockout.
“As soon as Charlie gets up to speed with the system, then the competition is on,” Bevell said. “I don’t think there’s ever not competition for those guys with our program. Coach is always preaching about competition.
“So Charlie is going to be able to give that to T-Jack, and it will make both of them better.”
Alan Branch. The veteran defensive lineman just signed with the team in free agency, but he’s no stranger to new D-line coach Todd Wash.
“I evaluated Alan when he came out of the college,” said of Branch, who was a second-round draft choice by the Arizona Cardinals in 2007, when Wash was coaching with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “So when there was an opportunity to get Alan, we were very, very excited. We know what he can do, and the coaches will put him in position to be successful.”
Carroll already has said that Branch will start at the three-technique tackle spot, with Brandon Mebane moving over to nose tackle. But Branch also can backup and spell Red Bryant at the five-technique end position.
That’s because Branch weighs 325 pounds, even though he doesn’t look it.
“Alan is a big athlete, and we’ve got to do something scheme-wise to make sure he’s successful and we’re successful,” Wash said.
BACK AT IT
With the players working without pads this afternoon, wide receiver Mike Williams and defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer were able to participate after sitting out the morning practice as well as Sunday’s sessions with minor injuries.
Williams (muscle strain) was at split end with the No. 1 offense, while Balmer (sprained ankle) was at one of the tackle spots with the No. 1 defense.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Wide receiver Golden Tate making a diving grab of a pass that was tipped by cornerback Marcus Trufant.
The players have a walk-thru Tuesday morning, followed by a practice at 1:30 that is open to the public. You can register to attend here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“As a guy who’s been around and played quite a few snaps, when you get to that point you have to be a leader. I think guys lead in different ways. I’m not a big hoot-and-holler kind of guy, but I’m going to come out and work and work hard and hopefully some of the young guys will follow that. That’s how I chose to lead and I think that’s just the way I am.” – just-signed veteran guard Robert Gallery on filling the leadership void now that two of last season’s captains are gone – QB Matt Hasselbeck to the Titans in free agency and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu after being released Sunday.
A recap of the afternoon walk-thru at Seahawks training camp:
Mike Williams. A year ago, he was in his first NFL training camp since 2007 and just hoping to make the Seahawks’ roster after being out of the league for two seasons.
This summer, he returns after leading the team in receptions and – as hard as it might be to believe – is one of the more experienced players on the offensive side of the ball.
“It’s still a little awkward, coming out here and haven’t been in this setting for so long missing the offseason,” Williams said after the 85-minute session on the shores of Lake Washington, referring to the 136-day lockout that forced the cancellation of the spring minicamps and OTA workouts.
“So getting back out here, you’re a little more tired than you think you are just because now the cameras are on and now you’ve got a coach yelling at you and now you’ve got to move at a different pace than maybe what you’re used to when you’re working out at home. So just getting back into the environment and raising the bar up to coach (Pete) Carroll’s speed is an adjustment for everybody.”
Williams made an impressive adjustment last season, one that at times pushed toward incredible. After being given a tryout at a minicamp, he was signed to a one-year contract. Williams went on to catch 65 passes for 751 yards and was rewarded with a three-year contract.
The 6-foot-5 Williams had the play of the morning session when he went over cornerback Marcus Trufant and free safety Earl Thomas to grab a pass from Charlie Whitehurst along the sideline. In the afternoon session, he used his big body to shield cornerback Walter Thurmond from the ball on a quick slant.
When asked how different this camp is from the one last summer, Williams smiled and offered, “Well, I’ve got a little more job security, I think.”
Red Bryant. There was a time last season when the Seahawks’ run defense ranked second in the league. That was until the 323-pound Bryant went down in the Week 8 game at Oakland with a knee injury that required season-ending surgery.
Today, he was back at the five-technique end spot where he belongs – and the defense needs him.
“It’s good to have him out here,” Williams said. “He’s been out here running around coming off the knee. We’re glad to have him back. So we’re just going to keep moving forward.”
Without Bryant, the run defense took several steps backward last season and ended up ranked 21st in the league.
THE WAITING GAME
The Seahawks can’t announce or address the additions of players who have agreed to sign with them this week until after 3 p.m. on Friday. Those same players – quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, wide receiver Sidney Rice and guard Robert Gallery – wouldn’t be able to practice until Aug. 4, because of the rules that are in place following the lockout.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer shooting through a gap to flush Whitehurst from the pocket. Balmer’s play on the second snap of the team period set the tempo for the defense, as Balmer and his line mates yielded little running room for backs Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.
The Seahawks will practice once on Friday, starting at 9 a.m. The first practices open to fans are on Saturday – at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. There are still openings available for both practices, and you can register to attend here: http://trainingcampregistration.seahawks.com/.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Lawyer (Milloy), he taught me a lot – on the field, off the field. I learned a lot from Lawyer and he helped me a lot.” – second-year strong safety Kam Chancellor, who has replaced Milloy in the starting unit
Kentwan Balmer is not only going home, he’ll be doing it to a hero’s welcome.
The Seahawks’ defensive lineman will have his number retired at Weldon (N.C.) High School on Friday night, during a halftime ceremony at the school’s basketball game.
“I don’t know what to say,” Balmer told the Daily Herald. “It’s nice to be recognized by your hometown. I’m humbled by it.”
Balmer played football and basketball at Weldon before going to the University of North Carolina. He was a first-round draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers in 2008. The Seahawks acquired Balmer in a trade in August.
Balmer started 11 games during the regular season – at tackle and end – and finished with a career-high 43 tackles. He also started both playoff games.
The Seahawks hoped to retain their position atop the NFC West with a victory over the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs, but struggled and fell 42-24 in front of the home crowd at Qwest Field.