Thursday in Hawkville: Maxwell making progress

With Clare Farnsworth in Canton, Ohio covering Cortez Kennedy’s induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I’ll be taking over the blog through the weekend. Getting to it, here’s a recap of the activities surrounding the Seahawks’ Bing Training Camp for August 2.

FOCUS ON

Byron Maxwell. The 6-1, 207-pound cornerback is working back into practice after returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for seven games during his rookie season. Maxwell, drafted with the eighth pick in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Clemson, impressed in training camp as a rookie last season and has the prototypical size and make-up of a Pete Carroll corner. He saw action in nine games a year ago, with most of that action coming on special teams, and prior to the NFL he was dubbed one of the hardest hitting defensive backs in the ACC.

Maxwell shined in the ‘gunner’ special teams drill to start Thursday’s practice. Lining up in punt formation against second-year receiver Doug Baldwin and rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, Maxwell broke the jam put on him by Baldwin and Lane and out-ran the wide receiver-cornerback duo up the right sideline before cutting back inside down field to meet punt returner Leon Washington as he was fielding the football.

“Special teams is about going hard,” Maxwell said of the play. “That’s all I do is go hard. It’s all about who wants it the most. I pride myself in my special teams play. That’s just the purest form of football. If you go out there and you can play special teams, you can play football.”

Maxwell clearly wanted it the most on that play.

Later in Thursday’s practice, the Clemson product wanted more, breaking up a ball in the end zone from quarterback Matt Flynn that was intended for wide receiver Golden Tate.

“We’re very satisfied with his progress,” said Seahawks secondary coach Kris Richard. “Of course, his issue is going to be conditioning now. He hasn’t had a full offseason. We are well aware of it, but we’re very satisfied with his effort. He’s a ball player. He’s always had a knack to get around the ball.”

With Seattle’s secondary featuring the likes of Pro Bowlers Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Browner, as well as impressive second-year player Richard Sherman, Maxwell knows that special teams play is an area where he must have an impact in order to stand out, but he’s not stopping there.

“Right now, special teams are a place where I feel I need to make an impact, but obviously that’s not all I want in this League,” Maxwell said. “I’m always looking to get better, get to the top, and be the best. Special teams is a role that I’ve got to do right now and one that I’ve got to do well for the team.”

And Richard knows that Maxwell is capable of more than stand out special teams play, and the NFL is a League where you’re always one play away from potentially making an impact.

“A healthy Byron at corner, in the nickel, and on special teams – a healthy Byron is a very effective Byron,” said Richard. “He’s a really good football player. We’re praying that he’s able to maintain his health, and if he is, really, the sky is the limit for him.”

UNIT WATCH

Defensive backs, and specifically the unit’s red zone defense. What can be said about this unit that hasn’t been said already? Quarterbacks Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, and Russell Wilson could not buy a bucket – or in this case, a touchdown pass – during the team’s red zone passing drill. The long, rangy defense dominated the drill, with cornerback Brandon Browner standing out in particular. On one play that saw Wilson under center Browner had coverage of wide receiver Charly Martin down the left sideline. Wilson fired a ball at Martin who cut toward the inside, but instead of extending his hands to receive the football, Martin was forced to bat the ball to the ground because Browner had beat him to the spot. Earlier in the drill Browner intercepted a ball from Flynn that was intended for Martin.

During the same drill, Maxwell made a nice read on a ball in the flat for wide receiver Kris Durham, exploding toward the football upon the quarterback’s release and pushing Durham to the sideline for no gain.

The only offensive conversions during the red zone passing drill that saw each of the three quarterbacks take multiple reps came on a pass from Flynn to rookie wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei, and on a toss from Jackson to rookie wide receiver Phil Bates, who made a nice grab on his back shoulder while falling to the ground.

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: A couple of offensive plays stood out in what was mainly a defense-dominated day. Ricardo Lockette made a nice stick on a ball from Wilson, elevating above safety Chris Maragos and cornerback Phillip Adams and tapping his toes down in the corner of the end zone for a score. During the team’s 11-on-11 session, Leon Washington had a nifty cut-back move to break free down the right sideline for a large gain. In the same session, rookie running back Robert Turbin had a similar move, as he slashed away from the scrum and scampered down the left sideline for a big gain.

Defense: In the team’s 9-on-7 drill, Earl Thomas penetrated the offensive line and found himself in the offensive backfield before running back Leon Washington, who had received the handoff, could even take a step. The speedy Thomas made the stop on Washington with an assist from defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who had won his battle along the line and cleared a lane for Thomas to dart through. Also in the 9-on-7 drill, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane let out a Street Fighter-esque ‘Hadoken!’ battle cry prior to the snap, empowering Alan Branch through the line to make a crunching stop of Washington in the backfield.

IN ‘N OUT

Rookie wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, the former University of Washington standout and Lakewood, Wash. native, practiced for the first time today. Kearse had been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of camp.

Defensive tackle Jason Jones returned to practice after sitting out Monday and Tuesday. Tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Barrett Ruud also returned to practice after missing Tuesday because of knee situations.

Six players did not practice, as cornerback Ron Parker, tight end Anthony McCoy, linebacker Matt McCoy and linebacker Jameson Konz joined the two remaining players on the physically unable to perform list – offensive lineman James Carpenter and cornerback Walter Thurmond.

UP NEXT

The players have a walkthrough this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow. Saturday’s practice will be the team’s final practice slotted for 10:15 a.m. Sunday’s practice, scheduled for 1:15 p.m., is set to feature a “mock game” between the squads.

JOIN THE CROWD

Today’s practice attracted 1,098 fans, as well as the Navy’s Blue Angels, who are in town for Seattle’s Sea Fair weekend. Fans along the berm at VMAC got an up-close-and-personal look at the Navy’s show group, whose impressive aerial acrobatics could be seen and heard – loudly – over the Seahawks three practice fields along the shores of Lake Washington.

Eight practices remain open to the public, including this weekend’s practices on Saturday and Sunday, which are the final weekend practices of camp. You can register to attend a practice session here.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Awesome. That was sick. They came in [to the VMAC] and visited us yesterday. Lieutenant David Tickle was in here yesterday and he visited with the coaching staff and I asked him, ‘Can you give us a little something-something at practice tomorrow?’ And he said, ‘OK, I’ll show you.’ So he gave us a little buzz and a little extra smoke and wiggle when he left here, so that was great.” – Head Coach Pete Carroll on the show the Blue Angels put on today over VMAC during practice.


Monday cyber surfing: Reaction to Williams’ release

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 16.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times gives us his reaction to the Seahawks release of wide receiver Mike Williams, noting  the move did not come as a total surprise, but rather a disappointment given Williams’ career revival with Seattle in 2010. “Williams’ release is disappointing, however,” said O’Neil. “His 2010 comeback was nothing short of remarkable as the former first-round pick — who had been out of the league entirely for two years — caught 65 passes to lead the team. He was never going to be mistaken for a track star, but he had size, great hands and an engaging personality. The man is very likeable. He had an ability to cut to the quick and speak honestly. On the subject of the NFL’s comeback player of the year in 2010, he pointed out that Leon Washington was much more deserving considering the severity of the broken leg Washington had to recover from. All Williams did, he said, was recover from being out of shape and sitting on his couch.”

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has his own take on the release of Williams, as he designates health issues and a lack of production a season ago as factors in the team’s decision, and comments on how the move affects the Seahawks’ competition at wide receiver heading into training camp, “The release of Williams opens up competition for the starting split end spot opposite Sidney Rice, with veterans Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler battling with youngsters Golden Tate, Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette for the starting job.”

John Boyle of the Everett Herald presents his take on the release of Williams, and also takes a look at how the move affects the Seahawks wideout group heading into camp, “With or without Williams, the battle for roster spots and playing time already figured to be one of the most intriguing position battles aside from Seattle’s three-man quarterback competition. While Sidney Rice is a lock to start, assuming he is healthy, the battle for the other starting job is wide open. Doug Baldwin should remain the Seahawks’ slot receiver, a role in which he thrived as a rookie in 2011. Golden Tate is now likely the front runner to be Seattle’s other starting receiver, but a number of other players could push him for that spot. The Seahawks will have a battle for both playing time and roster spots beyond Rice, Tate and Baldwin, one that will include Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham, Deon Butler, Ricardo Lockette and perhaps a couple of undrafted rookies such as Lavasier Tuinei and Phil Bates.”

Tim Booth of the Associated Press gives us this story on the release of Williams, suggesting that the signing of tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. may have played a role in the team’s decision to let Williams go, “With Winslow and Zach Miller, the Seahawks are likely to use more two tight end sets and limit the need for a second taller receiver on the outside.”

Over at MyNorthwest.com Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of the “Bob and Groz” show provide their own assessment of the Seahawks decision to release Williams, and discuss what’s next for the team at the wide receiver position, and for Williams, in this video.

Rounding out the reaction to Williams’ release is Curtis Crabtree of 950 KJR AM, who shares this piece and predicts what the team might do to replace Williams, “The team could look to bring in another veteran receiver or two to help add security to the position. WR Antonio Bryant had a tryout during mini-camp in June, but the team wanted him to get in better shape before making a decision on whether to sign him to the roster. He could be an option entering camp.”

The guys at ProFootballTalk.com are incrementally releasing their preseason power rankings and the Seahawks have landed at No. 22 on their list. Evan Silva breaks down the ranking in this Seahawks preview, analyzing the team’s strengths, weaknesses, changes the team has undergone, upcoming training camp battles and has provided an outlook heading into 2012, “The Seahawks seem to be a team on the rise, but they’ve yet to exceed seven regular-season wins through two years of the Carroll/Schneider regime. In order to instill confidence in the minds of observers, Seattle needs to take a significant step forward in on-the-field performance. Seattle’s 2012 schedule includes a brutal stretch from Weeks Two through Eight. They’ll square off with four returning playoff teams — the Packers, Patriots, 49ers, and Lions. During the seven-game run, the Seahawks also face the explosive offenses of Dallas and Carolina. We’ll have a very good feel for what kind of team the 2012 Seahawks are following that tough run. Ultimately, we ranked Seattle as the second best team in the NFC West. We like them better than the Cardinals and Rams, but much less than the Niners. The Seahawks are a club that certainly could surprise, especially if they emerge from the aforementioned seven-game stretch with four solid wins.”

Eric Edholm of ProFootballWeekly.com picks out three teams that may not necessarily be division favorites heading into 2012, but could have the potential to surprise and challenge for the division. Among Edholm’s short list are the Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks. Edholm had this to say on the Seahawks, “The Seahawks are fascinating. They have a young, ballhawking defense, some real talent at receiver and a confident head coach in Pete Carroll with a chip on his shoulder. All they need now is to settle on a quarterback. It should be easy, right? They signed Matt Flynn in the offseason, gave him $10 million guaranteed. That should be our sign he’s the starter. But an interesting thing is happening here, with Tarvaris Jackson getting the first-team reps to start training camp and white-hot (and intriguing) rookie Russell Wilson throwing bolts and determined to win the job from Day One.”

At NFL.com Kurt Warner, Warren Sapp and guest-analyst and former-teammate of Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings each give their two cents on the Seahawks quarterback competition heading into training camp in this short video.

Finally, here at Seahawks.com registration is now open for 2012 Bing Training Camp, which is set to begin at the end of the month. For more information, including how to register, click here.


Tuesday cyber surfing: Positional breakdowns

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 10.

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times takes a look at the Seahawks wide receiver position, and the competition that will come with it come training camp. O’Neil considers three wide receivers to be “locks” for the Seahawks 53-man roster – Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate. Beyond those three, it gets a little complicated according to O’Neil, “There are veterans Ben Obomanu, [Deon] Butler and [Mike] Williams. There are promising second-year players like Kris Durham — a fourth-round pick in 2011 — and Ricardo Lockette, who flashed his big-play potential at the end of the season. And don’t forget the crew of undrafted free agents and offseason additions: Lavasier Tuinei, Charly Martin, Jermaine Kearse, Cameron Kenney and Phil Bates. So how many can you expect Seattle to keep? Well, 5.4 says history, and before you start wondering how to get 40 percent of one wide receiver, that’s simply the average number of receivers the Seahawks have kept when they reduced the roster to 53 players from 2002 through last season.”

Like O’Neil, here at Seahawks.com Clare Farnsworth has a positional analysis of his own, as he takes a look at the Seahawks secondary heading into 2012. Farnsworth points to more experience and better depth as reasons to see improvement in the Seahawks secondary in 2012, as the unit hopes to build off the success they enjoyed a season ago, “No other team in the league had three defensive backs play in the Pro Bowl last season [Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor & Brandon Browner]. No other team in the league had three defensive backs ranked among the Top 10 cornerbacks and safeties in the league by the Sporting News this offseason.”

Over at NFL.com Gregg Rosenthal piggy-backs off of O’Neil’s wide receiver discussion and offers his own thoughts on Mike Williams, “Seattle Seahawks wideout Mike Williams could go from one of the best stories in the NFL to out of the league in the span of just two years. Somehow, that’s the most NFL story of all. Coach Pete Carroll resurrected his former USC star from the ashes in 2010. After being out of the NFL two years, Williams led the Seahawks with 65 catches and 751 yards. He was a legitimate Comeback Player of the Year candidate. He was the No. 1 receiver on a team that won a playoff game. But the NFL is an unforgiving place to work. Williams fell off the map during an injury-plagued 2011, putting up only 236 yards in 12 games. He’s coming off a broken leg and is no longer a lock to make the Seahawks’ roster.”

Also at NFL.com, Matt Smith gives us his fantasy dream team – the “perfect” draft – as he calls it, and lo and behold, there are a couple Seahawks mentions on his list. Smith hopes to pick up running back Marshawn Lynch in Round 3, offering this on Seattle’s bruising back, “I don’t buy last season being a fantasy miracle year for Lynch, Pete Carroll simply realized where his production was going to come from and kept it going, riding momentum of a great defense and running game to a solid close of the season. With the “dink and dunk” Matt Flynn, or the inconsistent Tavaris Jackson, or rookie Russell Wilson, the running game is going to have to be solid again for the Seahawks to succeed. And with their defense looking even better this season, they’re likely to lean on that run game even more.” Then, several rounds later, Smith has his eyes set on the Seahawks defense, “I love getting the defense right in Fantasy. It could be the difference between a win or a loss when you have one that’s dominant in point production. You need a defense that attacks, that goes after the quarterback and places a value on the ball above all else. The Bears have made a fantasy career of it, but these days they’re getting a little bit old to keep doing what they have been. Seattle closed strong, and all season long was solid. Seven weeks of double-digit production is just lunacy to leave on the board.”

Dan Arkush at ProFootballWeekly.com talked to a daily observer of Seahawks team activities, who told him Seahawks first round draft pick DE Bruce Irvin has impressed in the early-goings of Seahawks OTAs and minicamps, “One particularly striking example in a late-May OTA was the eye-popping countermove the sleek Irvin put on Breno Giacomini that literally floored the massive tackle. ‘It was really something to see; it made an instant impression,’ the observer said. But it was hardly enough to suddenly thrust Irvin into consideration for a starting role, with the game plan calling for him to hopefully wreak havoc along with [Chris] Clemons in specific nickel pass-rush situations the same way Aldon Smith did as a first-round rookie for the Niners last season. ‘Irvin has gotten all the starting reps up to now, but he has talked about how much he’d like to be learning from Clemons,’ the observer said.”


And then there were 10

The Seahawks’ offseason program is down to the last players standing: The rookie free agents.

The team’s 10 draft choices completed their offseason work today. Saturday, they head to Ohio for the four-day NFL Rookie Symposium, which starts on Sunday for the NFC players. Then they’re off until training camp start in late July. The veterans called it a wrap after the final practice in last week’s minicamp.

So Monday, the only group left for the final three days in the offseason program at Virginia Mason Athletic Center will be the rookies who have been added since the draft. Seven were signed just after the draft – wide receivers Phil Bates, Jermaine Kearse and Lavasier Tuinei; guard Rishaw Johnson, tight end Sean McGrath, safety DeShawn Shead and kicker Carson Wiggs. Two others were signed after tryouts in minicamps – cornerback Donny Lisowski and linebacker Kyle Knox. One – defensive end Cordarro Law – was signed between the draft in April and the rookie minicamp in May.

“It’s a learning experience in itself, just learning how to be a pro,” Bates said of watching the numbers diminish. “It’s pretty good, because I’ve learned a lot this week.”

And he has done it from the front of the line – rather than back, as was the case when the veterans were around.

“You take the stuff you learned while the vets were here and now you’re working it on by yourself and trying to master your craft,” Bates said. “I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying it a lot.”

Even with the vets gone, third-round draft choice Russell Wilson has been around to throw to Bates, Tuinei and McGrath (Kearse is sidelined with a foot injury). But Wilson is off to the symposium, so the rookie QB won’t be around next week.

“I’ve got the Jugs machine,” Bates said with a smile. “So that will help me out. I’m going to miss Russell, of course. But I’ve got the Jugs machine.”


Rookies join offseason program

At the conclusion of the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday, coach Pete Carroll said, “The ‘varsity’ is not here yet, so we’ll see how that goes.”

The “varsity” returned today, as the veterans kicked off the third and final week in Phase 2 of the offseason program. Also on field for the 45-minute session were nine of the team’s 10 draft choices – defensive end Bruce Irvin, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Robert Turbin, linebacker Korey Toomer, cornerback Jeremy Lane, on-the-mend safety Winston Guy, guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive end Greg Scruggs; as well as six of the 10 rookies who were signed as free agents after the draft – wide receiver Phil Bates, tight end Sean McGrath, on-the-mend defensive back DeShawn Shead, guard Rishaw Johnson, defensive end Cordarro Law and kicker Carson Wiggs.

Things weren’t quite the same for the rookies, however. Just ask Bates, who went from Wilson’s go-to target during the minicamp to when-do-I-get-to-go-in status with the return of the veterans. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Bates caught four passes in one drill on Sunday, only to get four reps – total – today.

But Bates was smiling nonetheless after spending most of the workout studying the play-card with Dave Canales, and then staying out after the session to get a little extra instruction from the team’s offensive quality control coach.

“It was actually a lot different, but I kind of expected that,” Bates said. “It didn’t matter. I’m just trying to get in and learn as much as I can.”

Bates is just one of the intriguing prospects signed this year by general manager John Schneider and Carroll in the long line of players with unique qualities they have been compiling since joining the Seahawks in January of 2010. Bates’ learning curve is bit steeper, however, because he was an option QB at Ohio University for two seasons before switching to receiver last year – and catching 15 passes for 197 yards.

“I’m just trying to make sure I grab something new every day – make sure I just keep building and just keep going,” Bates said. “That’s the goal every day: Just try to get better.”

Bates was one of the better players at the minicamp, making plays from Friday’s first practice to Sunday’s final practice.

Now, he’ll have to wait his turn in a crowded wide-out group that includes Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving as a rookie free agent last season; an eclectic group of veterans that includes Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler and Ricardo Lockette; and, eventually, Sidney Rice and Mike Williams, the incumbent starters who remain sidelined while recovering from surgery.


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Monday cyber surfing: Wilson makes his mark

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, May 14:

The Seahawks wrapped up their three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday and coach Pete Carroll said that Russell Wilson had played himself into the competition for the starting quarterback job with Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn.

Former Seahawks QB Brock Huard, now a host on 710 ESPN, offers his take on Wilson at mynorthwest.com: “Flynn and Jackson will soon learn that a 5-foot-11 Rose Bowl quarterback is a lot closer in this race than (Brock) Osweiler, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins and (Brandon) Weeden would be if they were in Seattle. The kid oozes with the ‘it factor,’ and has an arm and command that clearly puts him smack dab in this quarterback competition. Seahawks fans will sit on the berm in August and I am sure will ‘ooh and ah’ the same way many in the media did over the weekend. Carroll and his staff will have to figure out a way to dish out enough quality reps and work to fully evaluate the quarterback move that lies ahead. Sitting in the pole is Flynn; this is his job to lose. Jackson has the starts and experience under his belt, and Josh Portis has raw athleticism and talent. Yet lurking is Wilson, the constant over-achiever, the want-to-be quarterback anomaly at 5-feet-11 that is out to prove the NFL wrong. Carroll wants competition. Well, he’s got it now at the most critical position in sports. Get ready, Seahawks fans, the quarterback conversation is just beginning.”

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at what Carroll’s decision means as the team moves deeper into its offseason program: “Carroll offered no specifics on how the competition would be structured and no estimate on a timetable for a decision, but suggested some patience. ‘It’s going to take us a long time to do this,’ Carroll said. ‘It’s going to be frustrating for you guys. You’re going to keep asking and want to know. I’m just going to be more patient than you can imagine as we go through this process, and we’ll just figure it out when we do.’ ”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune has the word on Wilson, and also profiles two of the campers from the South Sound area – Karvario Middleton and Renard Williams: “Seahawks coach Pete Carroll recognized the long odds for players such as Middleton and Williams making a Week 1 roster. ‘This is a first step for a lot of those guys, and for some of these guys it’ll be their only step,’ he said. ‘So we try and treat these days with them with a lot of respect for where their hearts are and all that.’ ”

 
Here at Seahawks.com, we’ve also got the word on Carroll’s assessment of Wilson that shouldn’t have come as a surprise: “Carroll did not step to the podium after practice and declare that Wilson was going to compete with Jackson and Flynn. In fact, his comments came in response to a question about whether Wilson was a developmental player. ‘Here’s what I’m going to say about it, he’s going to be in the competition,’ Carroll offered before the question had even been completed. ‘He’s showed us enough, he’s in the competition.’ And that is saying a lot. Wilson played one season at Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State. Jackson has been in the league for six seasons and started 34 games, including 14 for the Seahawks last season after he was signed in free agency. Flynn was the most sought after QB in this year’s free-agent class, despite having started only two games for the Green Bay Packers the past four seasons. But Wilson showed enough in three minicamp practices that “we need to see where he fits in with these guys,” as Carroll put it.”

We’ve also got a recap of the three-day rookie camp in Hawkville: “ ‘For these guys to have that chance to get out here and be in the NFL for a weekend and show what they can do, they’ll never forget it,’ coach Pete Carroll said. ‘And I think it means a ton to them.’ You could tell it meant just that, as the players sought out coaches at the conclusion of practice to shake hands and say thanks. The team’s 10 draft choices and seven of the 10 free agents signed after the draft will join the veterans in the offseason program on Monday, and it was those players who drew most of the attention in the minicamp practices – from first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin; to third-rounder Russell Wilson, who used the minicamp to throw himself into the competition for the starting job; to seventh-rounder J.R. Sweezy, a defensive tackle in college who spent the weekend learning to play offensive guard; to wide receiver Phil Bates, one of those free-agent additions who caught pass after pass after pass.”

If you’d rather watch than read, there’s Tony Ventrella’s video recap, as well as Carroll’s post-practice Q&A session.

For a look around the league, there’s Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” at SI.com, but he also includes his take on the Wilson situation: “Is it dumb? No, it’s not dumb. As GM John Schneider told me after the draft, Wilson was the third-best player he studied in all of college football last year, and Schneider doesn’t care what anybody on any other team or on TV thinks of his draft-weekend decisions. Against a big-time schedule with Wisconsin last year, Wilson put up some phenomenal numbers – 73 percent passing, 10.3 yards per attempt, 33 touchdowns and four interceptions – and his leadership is similar to Drew Brees’.”


Sunday in Hawkville: That’s a wrap for the rookie minicamp

A recap of the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp that concluded today, May 13:

FOCUS ON

Three days in May. Make that three picture-postcard days, and three days when almost three dozen tryout players got to chase their dream of playing in the NFL.

The Seahawks wrapped up their rookie minicamp this afternoon, with another spirited practice on another gorgeous day along the shores of Lake Washington at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

“For these guys to have that chance to get out here and be in the NFL for a weekend and show what they can do, they’ll never forget it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “And I think it means a ton to them.”

You could tell it meant just that, as the players sought out coaches at the conclusion of practice to shake hands and say thanks.

The team’s 10 draft choices and seven of the 10 free agents signed after the draft will join the veterans in the offseason program on Monday, and it was those players who drew most of the attention in the minicamp practices – from first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin; to third-rounder Russell Wilson, who used the minicamp to throw himself into the competition for the starting job; to seventh-rounder J.R. Sweezy, a defensive tackle in college who spent the weekend learning to play offensive guard; to wide receiver Phil Bates, one of those free-agent additions who caught pass after pass after pass.

“I can only tell you that we were thrilled with the (draft) picks,” Carroll said. “We think there’s something in every guy that’s unique and special. That we were fortunate enough to get guys in the spots that we got them and have a real plan as we look ahead where they can fit in and help us, it just feels like the next big step has been made.

“This is a first step for a lot of those guys, and for some of these guys it will be their only step. So we tried to treat these days with them with a lot respect with where their hearts are and all that.”

TURBIN-POWERED

Carroll was especially pleased of the performance of Robert Turbin, a running back who was drafted in the fourth round. After playing in a spread offense at Utah State, Turbin made an almost seamless shift to the Seahawks’ zone-blocking scheme.

“He had an excellent camp,” Carroll said. “He has terrific speed. He has excellent feet. We were a little bit unsure of how well he would flow with the zone running game because he ran out of the (shot) gun all the time.

“He did it like he’s been doing it all along. So he showed natural instincts for the flow of the line of scrimmage.”

Turbin’s best run came Sunday, when he broke through the line on a counter play to gain 30 yards.

“He’s shown ability through the (three) days here that he can see the line of scrimmage well,” Carroll said. “He can feel it and he can burst.”

STICKING OUT

Asked which “unknown” players stood out, Carroll mentioned three:

Rishaw Johnson, a 6-3, 313-pound guard from California University in Pennsylvania and one of the free agents who was signed after the draft.

“He showed some tremendous stuff,” Carroll said. “We liked him going through the later rounds of the draft. He’s just a long ways down the road of understanding how to play the game. I think if he’ll continue to learn and understand what we’re asking of him, he has a chance to help us.”

Sweezy, the defensive tackle from North Carolina State who was drafted in the seventh round as a guard.

“The experience with J.R. was obvious that we’re on the right track,” Carroll said. “He’s very aggressive and carried over the defensive mentality that you’d hoped he would have. Tom (Cable, offensive line coach) was thrilled about what he saw from him.”

Donny Lisowsky, a 5-11, 185-pound cornerback from Montana and Seattle’s O’Dea High School, and one of the tryout players in camp.

“He was all over the place out here,” Carroll said. “I had no (idea about him), other than he ran extremely fast when he showed up for a workout day. And then he went out there and made a bunch of plays. So I was really fired up about him.”

YOU DON’T SAY

“We had a joke. I said, ‘Man, if I accidently tackle you, I’m sorry.’ ” – Sweezy, on having been a defensive tackle when Wilson also was playing at North Carolina State


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Friday in Hawkville: Rookie minicamp off to a fast start

A recap of the day’s activities at the Seahawks’ rookie camp for May 11:

FOCUS ON

Tempo. The first day of the team’s three-day rookie minicamp wasn’t just an initiation for the new players, it was an indoctrination into how things are done on a Pete Carroll-coached team – fast, precise and with a purpose.

Not surprisingly, the speed and tempo of the two-hour practice caught some of the players by surprise.

“They kind of warned us yesterday,” first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin said. “But I still didn’t know what to expect. It still kind of caught me off guard.

“I probably lost like about seven, eight pounds today.”

Also count Phil Bates among those who weren’t quite sure what to expect.

“It was up-tempo. It was fast. It was something that you’d never really done before,” said Bates, a rookie wide receiver from Ohio University who was signed as a free agent after the draft. “It’s something you’ve got to get used it, but at the same time it was fun.”

Fun, with a focus.

“We really pounded these guys with a bunch of stuff to get on the field for the first time,” Carroll said of the mental side of what today was all about. “It’s hard for you to imagine just how much you have to learn to get on the field and run plays, but the coaches did a really good job and the players have studied hard coming in and we were able to go out there and put together a nice practice.

“There were a lot of exciting things.”

VETERAN PRESENCE

The 55-player roster for this minicamp includes three who were on the Seahawks’ practice squad last season: running back Vai Taua, offensive lineman Brent Osborne and defensive end Pierre Allen.

TRYING (OUT) TIMES

The rookie-camp also includes 30 players who are in on a tryout basis:

WR Pat Carter, Louisville

QB Chris Hart, Webber International (Fla.)

QB Josh McGregor, Jacksonville

CB Dionte Dinkins, Fort Valley State

CB Donny Lisowksi, Montana

CB Josh Gatlin, North Dakota State

FB Bryson Kelly, Central Washington

FB James Stampley, LSU

S Craig Ray, Indianapolis

SS Austin Cassidy, Nebraska

FS Kareem Moore, Nicholls State

LB E.J. Savannah, Washington

LS Braedyn Eagle, Portland State

LB Mychal Sisson, Colorado State

TE Shawn Nelson, Southern Mississippi

TE Cooper Helfet, Duke

LB Najel Byrd, Arkansas State

C Jayson Palmgren, Missouri

LB Kyle Knox, Fresno State

LB Shane Horton, USC

DT Renard Williams, Eastern Washington

OG Julian Gray, North Carolina Central

OG Joel Figueroa, Miami

OT Andrew Mitchell, Oklahoma State

OT Alex Barron, Florida State

OT Chima Okoli, Penn State

OT Mark Huyge, Michigan

WR Cam Kenney, Oklahoma

WR Josh Smith, UCLA

DT Zach Masch, Hawaii

Barron, of course, is hardly a rookie. He was a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. After starting 74 games in five seasons with the Rams, the 6-foot-7, 320-pound Barron played for the Cowboys in 2010. He began last season on the Saints’ injured reserve list, after damaging a knee during training camp, before being released in October.

“We want to see what he’s got,” Carroll said. “He was a highly regarded player a few years back and he’s been smacked around with injuries and situations and all of that, so we’re going to find out. He handled his own pretty well today and he acted a bit like a veteran. He knew what was going on and was a little bit more comfortable than some of the other guys. So we’ll see in the next couple days and see where that puts at the end of this minicamp.”

THE BATTLE OF FIRST-ROUND PICKS

Barron was the 19th pick in the first round of his draft, while Irvin was the 15th pick overall in this year’s draft. These two found themselves matched against each other often, with Irvin at the “Leo” end spot and Barron working at left tackle.

“Oh man, it’s just going to help me get better,” Irvin said. “He’s a great competitor. He’s a great player. He’s a big dude. So going against him is going to do nothing but make me better. I’m going to come in and I’m going to compete, and he’s going to compete. We’re just going to make each other better, everyday.”

JUST WATCHING

Safety Winston Guy, a sixth-round draft choice, will not participate in this minicamp because he is recovering after having a surgical procedure on his shoulder.

“It’s going to take few more weeks before we can see him physically, and it’s killing him,” Carroll said. “He probably could get through it, but we won’t let him until he’s well.”

The veterans had the day off from their offseason conditioning program that will resume on Monday, but Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, leading receiver Doug Baldwin and fellow wide receiver Ricardo Lockette watched practice from the sideline.

YOU DON’T SAY

“It feels great. A lot of kids want to be in this situation. I’m fortunate to one of the few that made it. Getting a chance to live my dream, so that’s a great feeling and I’m looking forward to being a success.” – Irvin, on starting the next chapter of his life


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