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
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):
Al Harris has decided to retire as a member of the Packers, according to this report on the team website.
That’s about nine years too late for Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks. Harris, you surely remember, is the Pro Bowl cornerback who was involved in one of the most infamous plays in Seahawks history.
It came on the sixth snap of the Seahawks’ second overtime possession in a wild-card playoff game at Lambeau Field on Jan. 4, 2004. The temperature was 20 degrees, with a wind-chill of 7, and it was Harris who iced the Packers’ 33-27 victory.
On a third-and-11 play, Hasselbeck went to wide receiver Alex Bannister along the left sideline, but instead found Harris, who returned the interception 52 yards for a touchdown.
Harris’ pick-six followed Hasselbeck’s even-more infamous line after winning the coin-toss to open the overtime period: “We want the ball and we’re going to score.”
Hasselbeck intended the line to be heard only by Packers kicker Ryan Longwell, who he had become friends with while playing in Green Bay. But the official’s microphone was on, so the whole world heard what he had to say.
And yes, the announcement on the Packers’ website regarding Harris’ retirement includes a picture of him making his memorable play.
Matt Hasselbeck switched to No. 8 when he was acquired by the Seahawks in a 2001 trade with the Packers. He made the number his in 10 record-setting seasons in Seattle.
Hasselbeck continued to wear No. 8 the past two seasons with the Titans, who released him last month. But when Hasselbeck signed with the Colts after his release, backup QB Chandler Harnish had it.
Heavy emphasis on “had.” Hasselbeck said he would give Harnish $8,000 – and recoup his uniform number – if “Mr. Irrelavent” from last year’s NFL Draft could make a half-court shot. Harnish did just that, as you can see in the video above.
Twitter handle will be changed soon, haha it's so hard to part with it! Also, any doubters out there. That was legit, one take, first shot!—
Chandler Harnish (@CHarnish8) April 16, 2013
Matt Hasselbeck posted the photo below on his Instagram account, @hasselbeck:
The QB carrousel in the NFL has been working overtime, especially when it comes to backups.
While the moves of Alex Smith (49ers to Chiefs), Carson Palmer (Raiders to Cardinals) and Matt Flynn (Seahawks to Raiders) into likely starting jobs have generated the most interest, even more interesting is the activity when it comes to the No. 2 spot at the No. 1 position.
Check out these teams that have made moves with their backups:
Team Backup was Backup is
Cardinals Kevin Kolb/John Skelton Drew Stanton
Falcons Luke McCown Dominique Davis
Buffalo Tyler Thigpen Tarvaris Jackson
Bengals Bruce Gradkowski John Skelton/Josh Johnson
Browns Colt McCoy Jason Campbell
Bears Jason Campbell Josh McCown
Colts Drew Stanton Matt Hasselbeck
Chiefs Brady Quinn Chase Daniel
Jets Greg McElroy David Garrard
Vikings Joe Webb Matt Cassel
Saints Chase Daniel Luke McCown
Steelers Charlie Batch Bruce Gradkowski
49ers Alex Smith Colt McCoy
Seahawks Matt Flynn To be determined
Buccaneers Dan Orlovsky To be determined
Titans Matt Hasselbeck Ryan Fitzpatrick
Which teams improved themselves the most in all this shuffling? Don Banks at SI.com weighs in with his rankings, which have Fitzpatrick, Cassel, Hasselbeck, Garrard and Campbell in the Top 5 – and in that order.
As most of you know, I not only get into Seahawks games free, I watch from the press box. But there are some players in the league I would pay to watch, and Brian Urlacher is one of them.
So the word out of Chicago today that the Bears and their eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker will be parting ways after 13 ridiculously productive seasons prompted, well, this blog item. There’s not much to not like about the way Urlacher plays the game, other than the fact that he’s played against the Seahawks on a far-to-regular basis in recent seasons.
For the just-how-does-he-play-the-game follow to that statement, I’ll defer to Michael Robinson, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl-caliber fullback and lead blocker for Marshawn Lynch – a job that has forced his path to veer directly into Urlacher on many occasions the past three seasons. Robinson joined the Seahawks in 2010, so he played against Urlacher twice that season (regular season and postseason, both in Chicago); again 2011 (regular season, again in Chicago); and last season (regular season, and yet again in Chicago).
“He’s a very, very difficult guy to block,” Robinson said before the Week 15 game against the Bears in 2011, with Urlacher’s then 1,556 career tackles as proof – a total that has since grown to 1,779. “He’s very, very smart. He knows where the ball carrier wants to go and he’s all about the ball. He doesn’t like dealing with lead blockers, and the guys in front of him make it difficult for you to get on him, too.”
Before there was Robinson, there was Matt Hasselbeck – the former Seahawks QB who used to engage in some memorable pre-snap games of cat and mouse with the Bears’ middle linebacker.
“Urlacher does a great job of audibling as a middle linebacker,” Hasselbeck said before that regular season game against Urlacher in 2010. “He’s a great player and he’s well-coached. He’s been playing in this scheme a long time and you’ll see when an offense checks – a quarterback checks – he’ll check. Or, if he gets the sense that you’re pretending to check, then he’ll call it off.
“It’s one of those things where you make eye contact with him, you’re making a check, and he’s like, ‘No. No. No. Let’s just leave this one on.’ Or other times, he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, let’s check.’ And so he’s a great player.”
Urlacher, who was born in Pasco before being raised in New Mexico, has been NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000) as well as NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2005).
In eight games against the Seahawks – two in the postseason, six in the regular season – Urlacher had 56 tackles, or an average of seven. And his consistency was uncanny, as he never had more than eight or fewer than six.
It will be strange seeing Urlacher in anything but that Bears uniform with No. 54 on it. But I have the feeling that Robinson and I will definitely see him again.
The QB carousel is spinning, and Matt Hasselbeck is now a member of the Colts.
One day after being released by the Titans, the most-productive passer in Seahawks history has signed on to be Andrew Luck’s backup in Indianapolis – where the Seahawks will play the Colts during the 2013 season.
“His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. “Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Hasselbeck, who signed with the Titans in 2011, is moving forward to Indy because the Titans added former Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the backup to former University of Washington QB Jake Locker. The backup spot with the Colts was open because Drew Stanton signed with the Cardinals.
Matt Hasselbeck is the most productive quarterback in Seahawks history. He’s also without a job today after being released by the Titans.
“I want to thank Matt for his contributions to our team over the last two years,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. “He was an important part of the transition process — he was a pro at every turn and he provided an example to the rest of the team. I know that we are a better team for his being here and we wish him the best.”
Hasselbeck, who was voted to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team, signed with the Titans in 2011 after the Seahawks opted against re-signing him.
“My time in Seattle means a great deal, because of how hard it was to really turn the program back around,” he said last summer in the story announcing his selection to the 35th Anniversary team.
Hasselbeck was referring to the 9-7 and 7-9 records in his first two seasons with the Seahawks before they went 10-6, 9-7, 13-3, 9-7 and 10-6 the next five seasons.
“Then, offensively were started clicking, and settling in on stuff we really, really loved and owned,” he said. “We had confidence in what we were doing and in each other. It was a pivotal time. After that, even the bad stuff that happened to us, we learned from it.”
Chris Mortenson at ESPN.com reports that the Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Colts, Saints, Giants, 49ers and Buccaneers could be interested in signing Hasselbeck. “And list could grow,” he said on his Twitter account.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on March 5:
1997: The team announces it is returning to Eastern Washington University for training camp. The Seahawks had summered in Cheney from 1976-85 before holding training camp at their Kirkland facility for 11 years.
2002: Trent Dilfer is re-signed, but only after coach Mike Holmgren commits to the veteran quarterback has his starter. That lasts only until midseason, when Dilfer ruptures an Achilles against the Cowboys in Dallas and Matt Hasselbeck steps back in as the starter.
A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on March 2:
2001: Matt Hasselbeck is acquired in a trade with the Green Bay Packers. The teams switch picks in the first round of that year’s NFL Draft and the Seahawks also give the Packers a third-round draft choice. In starting 131 games over the next 10 seasons, Hasselbeck becomes the franchise’s all-time leader in completions and passing yards and is voted to the 35th Anniversary team.