Minicamp round-up: Day one

Good morning, and welcome to day one of the Seahawks’ three-day mandatory minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Today’s team workout is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., but before we get there, here’s a look at what’s “out there” as the club heads into the final week of their Offseason Program.

Sean McGrathBob Condotta of the Seattle Times identifies four key issues the Seahawks face as they gather for camp this week, including the battle for the backup tight end spot between 2013 fifth-round draft pick Luke Willson and second-year player Sean McGrath.

Danny O’Neil of 710Sports.com details five players to watch during the team’s three-day workout – offensive guard John Moffitt, wide receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Tharold Simon, defensive tackle Jesse Williams, and the competition for the backup offensive tackle spot between 2013 seventh-round draft pick Michael Bowie and third-year pro Michael Person.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has his observations from the team’s nine sessions of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) that finished up last week and has a look at what to expect from this week of camp.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune previewed this week’s minicamp in his Monday Morning QB chat. You can find the transcript of yesterday’s chat here.

DLMike Sando of ESPN.com has a look around the rest of the NFC West, as the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers also hold their mandatory minicamps this week, while the St. Louis Rams continue with OTAs.

Our Clare Farnsworth offers a recap of the club’s offseason to this point and highlights questions and concerns heading into the practice week.

Outside of minicamp news, former Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was released from the Buffalo Bills yesterday and John Boyle of the Everett Herald makes the case for bringing Jackson back to Seattle to backup entrenched starter Russell Wilson.

Lindsay Jones of USA Today has a feature on wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks of NFL.com breaks down who is the better cornerback – the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman or the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson – and Brooks offers the edge to Sherman, calling him “currently far superior.”

Check back later this afternoon for our coverage from day one of Seahawks minicamp.


ESPN.com: Seahawks earn an A for offseason moves

Percy Harvin

Wide receiver Percy Harvin during Seahawks Organized Team Activities

Matt Williamson likes what the Seahawks have done this offseason to strengthen an already solid roster that includes All-Pro players in running back Marshawn Lynch, free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and center Max Unger, as well as five Pro Bowl selections – quarterback Russell Wilson and left tackle Russell Okung, in addition to Lynch, Unger and Thomas.

Williamson provides a comprehensive look at each team in the NFC at ESPN.com while handing out his grades – with the Cardinals and the Eagles the only other teams earning an A. It’s an Insider feature, so registration and a fee is required to view it. But here’s a sampling of what he has to say about the most-recent moves by general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll:

On the trade to acquire Percy Harvin: “Along with San Francisco, the Seahawks might be the best team in the league – and this offseason only reinforces that notion for me. Adding Harvin as an explosive element to this offense is gigantic. When healthy, he is one of the best players in the league and he was playing at an extremely high level last season before being sidelined with an ankle injury. Seattle will get creative with how it employs him.”

On the defensive additions: “A great defense got even better this offseason. The addition of (Antoine) Winfield, who excels in the slot, against the run and as a blitzer, makes the league’s best secondary very much improved. Seattle lost (Jason) Jones and (Alan) Branch up front, but added (Cliff) Avril, (Michael) Bennett, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams. Those switches in personnel not only make them younger up front, but also improve the pass rush dramatically with Avril off the edge and Bennett coming from either a standard defensive end position or on the inside in passing situations.”

On the 325-pound Williams, the defensive tackle who was drafted in the fifth round: “On tape, Williams looked like a first-round pick to me, and if medical issues do not slow him down, he could be a very instrumental member of this defensive line. The Seahawks are stacked.”


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Is it football season yet?

Is it football season yet?

One-hundred days from today – on Sunday, September 8 – the Seahawks will kickoff the 2013 regular season against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

As our Insider Clare Farnsworth outlined earlier, 2013 is a season of heightened expectations for this Seattle ball club. The overwhelming message we gathered from Farnsworth’s feature is that the Seahawks players and coaching staff are handling each of these final 100 days to kickoff just like they’ve handled the previous 100 – one at a time.

So, we’re going to take it one day at a time along with them.

RM3_1232Every Friday, from now until the regular season begins, we’ll outline all the happenings of the week to come. And not just what’s happening with the team (though that will take priority), but we’ll use this space to keep you up to date on what’s going on around the Seahawks community as well. From player appearances to charity events and from fan activities to friendly holiday reminders (Fathers Day is rapidly approaching – June 16, to be exact – you’re welcome) we’ll have it for you here.

Hopefully, this will help us all cope with life without football, as together we inch closer and closer to answer the often-uttered question: Is it football season yet?

Without further ado, here’s a look at the what’s going on next week, June 3-7, with your Seattle Seahawks:

Monday, June 3:

  • After taking the weekend off, the team continues with Phase 3 of their Offseason Program, moving forward with the seventh of 10 Organized Team Activities (OTAs). This OTA session is open to the media, so expect plenty of coverage from us and the rest of our colleagues around the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, June 4:

  • The eighth of 10 OTAs takes place at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. This session is closed to the media, but our staff will be around to deliver plenty of offseason goodness your way here on Seahawks.com.

Wednesday, June 5:

  • The ninth of 10 OTAs takes place at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. This session is closed to the media as well, but once again we’ll be on hand to bring you a look at what’s going on from the team’s second to last day of OTAs.

Thursday, June 6:

  • The final day of OTAs takes place at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Like Monday’s go-around, this workout is also open to the media. We’ll have a full OTA-wrap-up for you here on Seahawks.com and blanketed across our social media channels.

Friday, June 7:

  • No team activities are scheduled, but it’s Seahawks Blue Friday. Wear your Seahawks-themed gear to school, work, or wherever you may be.
  • Don’t have any gear, or need something new? Friday also marks the grand re-opening of the expanded Seahawks Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field, which may feature a player appearance, or two (look for specifics next week here on Seahawks.com). All in all, it sounds like a great day to head down to the field and grab yourself some fresh garb.

Richard Sherman highlighted at No. 50 in NFL’s Top 100 of 2013

Richard Sherman

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who recently ranked as one of the League’s nine most indispensable defensive players, joined center Max Unger (No. 95), wide receiver Percy Harvin (No. 90), free safety Earl Thomas (No. 66), and quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 51) as the fifth Seahawk to be represented on NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 players of 2013, appearing at No. 50 on tonight’s unveil of players ranked 41-50.

Not only is Sherman the fifth Seahawk, but he’s also the fifth player at his position to make the network’s list. Sherman ranks ahead of the Denver Broncos’ Champ Bailey (No. 53), Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Darrelle Revis (No. 67), Chicago Bears’ Tim Jennings (No. 69), and Kansas City Chiefs’ Brandon Flowers (No. 75).

When Sherman was drafted with the 23rd pick in the fifth-round (154th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft, he took close notice of every cornerback that was drafted ahead of him, saying he could rally off each of their names if asked. Two years later, Sherman has established himself as one of the game’s top players, tallying 115 tackles, 12 interceptions (eight last season, T-2nd in NFL), 41 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and 1.0 sack in just 26 starts with the Seahawks.

You can bet the overtly-ambitious Sherman will maintain that 2011 draft mentality toward any other cornerbacks that may be ranked ahead of him on this list (fellow All-Pro corner Charles Tillman of the Bears has yet to be unveiled) when the countdown picks up again next Thursday with players ranked No. 31-40.


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A fifth Seahawk in NFL Network’s Top 100

Another week, another Seahawk in the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013.

When the players ranked No. 41-50 are unveiled on Thursday starting at 5 p.m. PT, the quartet of All-Pro center Max Unger (No. 95), wide receiver Percy Harvin (No. 90), All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas (No. 66) and Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 51) will have company.

As usual, we can’t say who the latest Seahawks player is. But the field is growing smaller by the week. Possible candidates include Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch and All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.

You’ll have to tune in to find out who it is.


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Tuesday in Hawkville: A very happy, and also productive, birthday for Percy Harvin

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 28, when the Seahawks had an OTA session that was open to the media:

FOCUS ON

Percy Harvin. So, what do you get a player who seemingly has everything for his 25th birthday?

Percy HarvinHow about a 57-yard touchdown reception? That’s what quarterback Russell Wilson came up with during today’s OTA session, and it was just one of four receptions for Harvin during the final team period that slapped an exclamation point on the workout.

Harvin was acquired in a trade with the Vikings in March because he was proficient and productive as a receiver, returner and runner the past four seasons with the Vikings. But today, on his birthday, the spotlight was on Harvin’s receiving skills.

On the second play of the team period, Harvin got behind Brandon Browner, a 6-foot-4 cornerback who is as physical as he is tall, to take Wilson’s pass along the sideline and run it into the end zone. A few snaps later, it was Wilson to Harvin on a crossing pattern. Then, Harvin made a nice grab of a pass from backup QB Brady Quinn as he was racing across the field toward the sideline. Finally, it was Quinn to Harvin to round out the day.

Four routes, four receptions; one big reason why the Seahawks deemed Harvin worth the three draft choices they gave up to acquire him.

None of this should come as a surprise, because last year Harvin tied for first in the NFL with no dropped passes on 82 targets before being sidelined for the final seven games with a torn ligament in his ankle. In fact, according to the statistics provided by ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando, the Seahawks have three players who ranked among the top 20 in that category last season: Harvin at No. 1; wide receiver Sidney Rice, another ex-Viking, who had one drop on 78 targets to rank No. 9; and tight end Zach Miller, who had one drop on 49 targets to rank No. 16.

Marshawn LynchPLAYER WATCH

Marshawn Lynch. The team’s leading rusher the past three seasons was back after missing last week’s OTAs. Today, Lynch didn’t miss a beat – or an assignment, or a hole – while displaying the explosive quickness and power that helped him rush for a career-high 1,590 yards last season.

POSITION WATCH

Linebackers. It was difficult not to watch assistant coach Ken Norton’s crew during the session was featured rain, wind and even a sun break or two along the shores of Lake Washington.

Outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Kyle Knox intercepted passes in the 7-on-7 drill, when cornerback Byron Maxwell added a third. During the final team period, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner slapped away a pass that was intended for Miller, while outside linebacker Malcolm Smith made a last-second tip of a pass that was almost in the hands of rookie tight end Luke Willson.

ANTHONY McCOY WAIVED/INJURED; JAKE BSCHERER SIGNED

In a procedural move, tight end Anthony McCoy was waived/injured today. When he clears waivers, McCoy will revert back to injured reserve. McCoy tore his right Achilles tendon during an OTA session last Monday and had surgery on Thursday.

Jake Bscherer, one of three dozen players who attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, was signed. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle played at Minnesota-Duluth.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions on Wednesday and Friday, which are not open to the media. Next week, they have OTAs on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“They’re very serious. And I think they’re hungry. They’re very hungry. The way these guys work in the weight room or running inside. You can see them compete in practice. Yeah, they’re ready to go.” – Antoine Winfield, the team’s new nickel back, when asked about the other starters in the secondary: cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Browner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor


Russell Wilson featured at No. 51 in NFL’s Top 100 of 2013

Quarterback Russell Wilson joined Max Unger (No. 95), Percy Harvin (No. 90), and Earl Thomas (No. 66) as the fourth Seahawk to be represented on NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 players of 2013, appearing at No. 51 on tonight’s unveil of players ranked 51-60.

He’s also the fourth quarterback to crack the Top 100, as his peers voted him higher than fellow signal callers Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers (No. 81), Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions (No. 76), and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 61).

It was what Wilson did a season ago for the Seahawks that landed him on this list.

After being selected with the 75th overall pick (third round) of the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson beat out incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson and free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn to claim the starting job in preseason. He led Seattle on an 11-5 campaign where he tied Peyton Manning’s 1998 record for the most touchdown passes by a rookie (26), became the first rookie in NFL history to lead his team to an undefeated home record, set a club record with a 100.0 passer rating – the second-best ever by a rookie, and quarterbacked a 24-14 come-from-behind victory in the Wild Card round over the Washington Redskins to give the club their first road playoff win since 1983.

And all of those rookie accolades landed Wilson in the Pro Bowl, where he went 8-of-10 passing for 98 yards, tossing three touchdowns in the process.

He is the first of last season’s trio of first-year quarterbacks who were in the running for rookie of the year honors to be unveiled on the Top 100 list. But you can bet that last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck and 2012 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III will show up on the list in the coming weeks.

The Top 100 countdown picks up again next Thursday with players ranked 41-50.


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Another Seahawk among NFL Network’s Top 100

Move over Max Unger. Make way Percy Harvin. Take a deep breath Earl Thomas.

A fourth Seahawk will be added to the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013 when those ranked 51-60 are unveiled in the series’ fifth episode that airs Thursday night.

As was the case with Unger, the All-Pro center who was ranked No. 95; Harvin, the receiver/runner/returner who checked in at No. 90; and Thomas, the All-Pro free safety who was slotted at No. 66, we know who the fourth Seahawks is, but we can’t say.

You’ll have to tune in at 5 p.m. PT on Thursday to find out. But the candidates include All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung.


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Monday in Hawkville: Russell Wilson picks up far beyond where he left off

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for May 20, as the Seahawks kicked off the OTA portion of their offseason program:

FOCUS ON

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ second-year quarterback made it difficult to not watch him, and coach Pete Carroll summed up the situation when asked how much farther along Wilson is this year compared to last year – when he had just been selected in the third round of the NFL Draft and still was competing for the starting job with the since-departed duo of Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.

“There’s no way of even calculating that,” Carroll said after a crisp, spirited practice on yet another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington. “His awareness and his sense for the finest details, we jumped offside today and he’s working on hard counts on the first play of team (drills).

“He didn’t know what a hard count was last year at this time.”

That might be stretching it just a tad, but saying that Wilson had a very impressive outing in the first of the team’s 10 OTA practices is not.

In that first team segment Carroll mentioned, Wilson completed passes to wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and also scrambled twice, before throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson remained almost as sharp, and aware, for the rest of the session.

“It’s really hard to equate what it is, because he’s applied himself so much that he’s taken an extraordinary amount of information and he’s processing it,” Carroll said. “He threw a couple of balls today – things that we’ve talked about over the offseason we’d like to take a shot at – and he did it today just to see what would happen. With full awareness of why he was doing it.”

Before the OTA session was over, Wilson had completed passes to 10 receivers – running back Robert Turbin; Baldwin and McCoy; Tate, running back Derrick Coleman, rookie tight end Luke Willson, Percy Harvin, tight end Zach Miller, wide receiver Bryan Walters and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

The pass to Kearse was vintage Wilson – and that’s saying something, as well, that a second-year QB already has established trademark nuances to his game. It came on the final play, as Wilson avoided pressure and got off a pass that caught Kearse as much as Kearse caught the pass.

“Russell is the kind of players that will affect other guys,” Carroll said. “He affects everybody around him and hopefully that will help everybody play better.”


UNIT WATCH

Offensive line. Right tackle Breno Giacomini participated fully, after being limited in Phase 2 of the offseason program following elbow surgery. His returned allowed the No. 1 offense to field the same line that closed last season – Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Paul McQuistan, All-Pro center Max Unger, right guard J.R. Sweezy and Giacomini.

Comprising the second unit, from left tackle to right: Mike Person, who had been working for Giacomini with the No. 1 line; Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre, John Moffitt and Michael Bowie. In the third unit: Alvin Bailey, Johnson, Jared Smith, Ryan Seymour and Jordon Roussos.

PLAYER WATCH

Cliff Avril. And that’s what the defensive end who was signed in free agency was doing – watching, because he’s dealing with plantar fascia that he got a month ago.

But with Bruce Irvin facing a four-game suspension to start the regular season and Chris Clemons still recovering from surgery to repair the ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee from the wild-card playoff win over the Redskins in January, Avril is slated to be the starter at the Leo end spot in the Sept. 8 opener against the Panthers in Carolina.

“I like the fact that Cliff is here because he gave us a cushion for Clem,” Carroll said. “That now changes for the first month of the season.”

Today, Irvin continued to work at Leo end in the No. 1 nickel line, with Mike Morgan taking over with the second unit and Ty Powell going with the third unit. In the base defense, Michael Bennett was the Leo end with the No. 1 line.

ROSTER MOVES

Tight end Darren Fells was re-signed this morning, while snapper Adam Steiner was released to clear a spot on the 90-man roster.

Fells, a basketball player in college who also played professionally in Belgium, Ireland and Argentina, was released two weeks ago. But he attended the May 10-12 rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Steiner had been claimed off waivers last week.

Also, running back Christine Michael, who was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft last month, signed his rookie contract.

UP NEXT

The players also have OTA sessions Tuesday and Thursday this week. Next week, they’ll go Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

YOU DON’T SAY, PLAYER EDITION

“We really don’t care. Coach said we’ve got a lot of hype, but he also said let’s make it natural. Everybody around here expects us to win, but we expect ourselves to win, too. We don’t come out here saying we hope to lose. With a good team comes a lot of talk, but we put all that behind us. We’re out here having fun, we’re competing and that’s how it’s going to be.” – Harvin, when asked how the players were handling the heightened expectations that have come from being regarded among the “favorites” in the league this offseason by the national media

YOU DON’T SAY, COACH EDITION

“It was a very, very good first day for us.” – Carroll


Earl Thomas highlighted at No. 66 in NFL’s Top 100 of 2013

Free safety Earl Thomas joined teammates Max Unger and Percy Harvin on NFL Network’s list of the Top 100 Players of 2013, checking in at No. 66.

It’s yet another recognition for the hard-to-believe-he-is-already-in-his-fourth-year pro. Thomas, who turned just 24-years-old earlier this month, has garnered Pro Bowl honors (2011, 2012) and first-team AP All-Pro (2012) selections since coming into the League out of the University of Texas with the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has led a Seahawks defense that has jumped from ranking 27th in the NFL in 2010 to ninth in 2011 to fourth last season.

Despite a stellar 2012 where he racked up 66 tackles, nine passes defensed, forced and recovered a fumble, and picked off three passes – one of which he returned 57 yards for a touchdown, Thomas’ ranking at No. 66 is the exact same spot where he showed up last year on this same list.

That’s why it’s not too surprising that the hyper-competitive Thomas isn’t all that satisfied with his rank, saying he’ll use it as “fuel to the fire.”


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