Wednesday in Hawkville: Irvin defensive rookie of the year?

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Aug. 29:

FOCUS ON

Bruce Irvin. The Seahawks’ first-round draft choice has yet to register a tackle, let alone a sack, in the team’s first three preseason games.

But Sports Illustrated’s Peter King sees big things for Irvin once the regular season starts: Defensive rookie of the year. In his Awards Predictions for the 2012 season, King writes, “Attention in Seattle is laser-focused on the first-round rookie, who’ll sneak through O-lines for 14 sacks.”

On the practice field, Irvin looks like a player with that kind of potential. In the games, however, he has yet to flash as brightly.

“Out here, he plays very carefree,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said after a practice this week. “He just plays. He gets into the game and he’s worrying about keeping contain and whatever else he might need to do.

“He knows how to play; we just need him to cut loose.”

Irvin’s role will change after Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Raiders at CenturyLink Field. During the preseason, he has played in the No. 1 nickel – opposite sack leader Chris Clemons – and also for Clemons on the No. 2 line. During the regular season, he primarily will be counted on to supple pressure off the edge in the nickel and also used to spell Clemons.

“Bruce is frustrated with how hard it is to get sacks,” coach Pete Carroll said after today’s walkthrough, which was held in the indoor practice facility. “But just these last two days, in particular, he’s just looked terrific in practice.”

Carroll said Irvin was close to getting four sacks against the Chiefs on Friday night, and that he graded out as the most active of the D-linemen during training camp.

“He’s playing exactly like we hoped,” Carroll said. “He’s just getting better weekly.”

POSITION WATCH

Right guard. Rookie J.R. Sweezy will start against the Raiders for the third consecutive game, but incumbent starter John Moffitt will play for the first time since a surgical procedure to remove particles from his left elbow.

Carroll had said that Moffitt would remain the starter, but altered that assessment today.

“We’re just going one game at a time there, but J.R. has handled it very well,” Carroll said. “John is just getting back into it, so we need to see what John’s doing. So there’s a lot to be evaluated there. But we’re comfortable with the way Sweez is going right now. If that’s the way it is, then he would be starting. Maybe.”

ROOKIE WATCH

Winston Guy. He was drafted in the sixth round with the idea of having him fill the third safety spot in the Bandit package that Lawyer Milloy played two years ago and Atari Bigby stepped into last season. So far, better than good.

“I really like this guy,” Carroll said of Guy. “He’s a very natural football player. In his days at Kentucky, they moved him around quite a bit and we were able to see him do things like what we do in this package.

“There are so many things that that guy has to deal with and he almost has to have a real natural sense, because you can’t coach everything because of all the floating and moving around that he’s asked to do. Well, Winston gets it. He just gets it. He’s a hitter. He plays the ball well. He’s really fast. He’s 216 pounds – big kid. And he’s got a real knack for rushing the passer. He looks like a pass-rusher when he’s coming.”

Carroll labeled the selection of Guy as a “fantastic draft pick,” and added that he could be on the field in Arizona for the first third-down situation against the Cardinals on Sept. 9.

“That’s an amazing accomplish for him,” Carroll said. “He’s got all the right stuff.”

IN ’N OUT

Tight end Cameron Morrah, defensive lineman Pep Levingston and linebacker Jameson Konz, who were waived/injured on Sunday, have been added to the team’s injured reserve list.

Several players will not play against the Raiders, including running back Marshawn Lynch (back), wide receiver Doug Baldwin (hamstring), guard James Carpenter (knee), defensive linemen Jason Jones (knee) and Greg Scruggs (hamstring), linebacker Matt McCoy (knee) and defensive backs Chris Maragos (shoulder) and Walter Thurmond (leg).

Carroll on Lynch: “He took a real good turn this week. The rehab he’s been doing really has been effective. So we think he’s going to be fine (for the Sept. 9 regular-season opener).

Carroll also said that Carpenter, last year’s first-round draft choice, will play at some point this season. His situation had been in question because of the severity of the knee injury he got last November.

“Carp is doing marvelously,” Carroll said. “We were kind of concerned about him not making early progress in the recovery program. But he just kind of jumped about six weeks ago. … He’s not far away from looking like he could practice and play for us. But still it’s a crucial time for us and we have to make a big decision here on how we do this.”

The decision is whether to leave Carpenter on the physically-unable-to-perform list, meaning he would have to sit out at least the first six games; or carry him on the 53-man roster until he is ready to play.

Baldwin, Jones and Scruggs, along with Lynch, are expected to be ready for the opener against the Cardinals, Carroll said.

UP NEXT

The players will have position meetings on Thursday before leaving for CenturyLink Field and the finale against the Raiders. The Seahawks are 3-0, and the only other time they went undefeated during the preseason was in 2009.

The 75-man roster must be trimmed to 53 players on Friday.

The players will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, then practice on Monday before getting their normal in-season day off on Tuesday.

“It’s a really good weekend for the guys to get a rest,” Carroll said. “We’ll rest the heck out of them … really in an effort to get their legs back and make them strong for the weekend.”

YOU DON’T SAY

“This is big for our young guys. This is their biggest opportunity because they’ll get their most playing time in this game and it’s kind of a final test of camp and the offseason. I’m hoping, for their own good, that they really come through and put themselves in the best positions to make the club.” – Carroll, looking to Thursday night’s game with an eye on Friday’s roster cuts


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Monday in Hawkville: Mebane struts his ample stuff

A recap of the activities at the Seahawks’ Bing training camp for July 30:

FOCUS ON

Brandon Mebane. The pads came on for the first time in camp, and the team’s nose tackle came out smokin’.

The 311-pound Mebane was dominating in the 9-on-7 run drill, starting with the first play when he put some extra “ex” in explosive by blowing through a gap between the center and guard to get to the running back well behind the line. Mebane then provided replays of his disruptive quickness on back-to-back plays and also recovered a muffed exchange between the center and quarterback.

In another drill, when rookie quarterback Russell Wilson dropped an unexpected shotgun snap – after a defensive player had jumped offside – Mebane was there again to fall on the loose ball.

Despite his obvious physical prowess in the first padded practice, Mebane said the impressive performance was more about the improved mental aspects of his ample game.

“The older I get the more knowledge I gain,” he said. “It’s about experience, playing with the guys and learning other things from (defensive line coach Todd) Wash. I learned things from pretty much all my position coaches I’ve had in the past.”

It’s strange to hear the 27-year-old Mebane talk about his age and experience, but on this defense only linebacker Leroy Hill has played more games for the Seahawks among the current starters. Since being a third-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Mebane has played for three head coaches and three position coaches – Mike Holmgren and Dwaine Board (2007-08), Jim Mora and Dan Quinn (2009) and now Pete Carroll and Wash.

“I’ve taken something from each of them,” Mebane said of his position coaches. “Knowledge is power and just picking up little things from each of them has helped me. I’m trying to just keep going to the next step, next step.”

Mebane definitely stepped up last season, when he was moved to the nose fulltime, by posting a career-high 56 tackles to lead all interior linemen in the NFC.

If today’s performance was any indication, Mebane is ready to pick up not only where he left off but take his game that is as much as about disruptive quickness as it is power to an even higher level.

UNIT WATCH

The defense. Mebane’s early efforts proved to be the metronome for two hours of big plays – and even bigger pops.

Second-year linebacker K.J. Wright dropped rookie running back Robert Turbin with a solid shot. Rookie safety Winston Guy put a lick on Turbin after he caught a pass that forced a fumble. Wright put veteran wide receiver Antonio Bryant on his derriere with another shot on one of the last plays of practice.

“It was good,” rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said when asked about putting on the pads for the first time. “Now we get to hit, and I enjoy it.”

The session even included a matchup that Wagner used to get asked about when he and Turbin were at Utah State.

“It’s funny, because I never really got a chance to hit Turbin – ever,” Wagner said with a smile. “It was kind of funny when I tackled him to see who it was.

“At school, everybody always used to ask what would happen. I guess they’re finding out now.”

PLAYS DU JOUR

Offense: Ricardo Lockette had one catch that produced the wow-factor, as he tipped a pass from Matt Flynn and then controlled the carom as he was falling into the end zone. But the better effort for a second-year receiver who is working on honing his route-running and pass-catching skills came when Lockette made a fingertip grab – in stride and between cornerback Phillip Adams and safety DeShawn Shead – of another Flynn pass for another touchdown.

Defense: Safety Jeron Johnson’s interception of a Josh Portis pass that was tipped first by safety Chris Maragos and Adams.

Special teams: Steven Hauschka using that smooth stroke of his to convert a 55-yard field goal. He also hit a 53-yarder.

IN ‘N OUT

Ten players did not practice, as tight end Anthony McCoy, defensive linemen Jason Jones, defensive backs Ron Parker and Donny Lisowski and linebacker Matt McCoy joined the five players who also sat out Sunday – defensive tackle Alan Branch and defensive end Jameson Konz; and offensive lineman James Carpenter, cornerback Walter Thurmond and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who are on the physically unable to perform list.

Offensive lineman Allen Barbre returned after missing the first two days of camp because of a family situation.

UP NEXT

The players have a walkthrough this afternoon and will practice at 10:15 a.m. tomorrow. They will have their first off day on Wednesday.

JOIN THE CROWD

It’s tempting to say that “only” 915 fans attended practice, until you consider that it was a cloudy and unseasonably cool Monday morning following a weekend when more than 4,400 packed the berm adjacent to the fields for two practices. Ten more practices are open to the public and you can register here to attend – including the final weekend practices of camp this Saturday and Sunday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Nobody knows who I am. No coaches. No fans. They draft guys, so they have an idea who you are and they have an idea of what you can become. With Marshawn, his whole thing is, ‘Man, you’ve got to show people who you are.’ And that’s kind of how he plays. He doesn’t like to talk, and I don’t really like to talk much, either. But he’s a guy that just likes to show who he is by how he plays. That’s what he tells me.” – Turbin, when asked what advice he has gotten from leading rusher Marshawn Lynch


Monday cyber surfing: Earl Thomas’ camp for kids

Good morning, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 9.

From KFDM Channel 6 in Beaumont, Texas, we have this feature on Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who during the downtime before training camp returned to his hometown of Orange, Texas to host a free football camp for Southeast Texas kids. “Growing up here not too many people came back,” said Thomas. “It kind of made me mad, so I said if I ever made it I’d be the first one to come back and help out.”

Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson shares another installment of his video series “The Real Rob Report”, this time catching up with rookie QB Russell Wilson at the end of the Seahawks minicamp in mid-June.

Here at Seahawks.com, we wrapped up our Rookie Spotlight segment over the weekend as GM John Schneider offered his thoughts on fifth round draft pick Korey Toomer, sixth round draft picks Jeremy Lane and Winston Guy, and seventh round draft picks J.R. Sweezy and Greg Scruggs.

At MyNorthwest.com Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby of the “Bob and Groz” show follow up on a guest appearance by former NFL QB Kurt Warner, as they discuss the Seahawks three-man quarterback competition and how big of an advantage Tarvaris Jackson’s familiarity with the Seahawks offense and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can be come training camp.

Andy Behrens over at YahooSports.com takes a look at the Seahawks from a fantasy perspective, as he shares his thoughts on Marshawn Lynch and the running game, the Seahawks quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends, and had this to say about the Seahawks ‘D’, “Seattle’s defense should be a solid option this season, as they finished among the top-10 teams last year in fewest points and yards allowed (19.7, 332.2). This group ranked fourth in the league in interceptions (22) and they scored four defensive TDs, so they were obviously a decent fantasy commodity. The IDPs to target here are DE Chris Clemons (11.0 sacks), plus safeties Earl Thomas (98 tackles) and Kam Chancellor (97 tackles). First-round DE Bruce Irvin and second-round LB Bobby Wagner might just sneak into the IDP discussion, too.”

Lastly, over at NFL.com we have a photo gallery highlighting the Hall of Fame Class of 2012, which includes a 16-photo spread of Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 4.


Wednesday cyber surfing: Fourth of July edition

Good morning, and happy Fourth of July. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks on this holiday.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com explores how travel disparity may affect NFL teams. He specifically references the Seahawks and the NFC West division, noting that their distance traveled each season outpaces the rest, “The Steelers played 15 of their 16 games in the Eastern time zone, with a lone trip to the Central time zone waiting for them against the Titans in Week 16. Part of that is a lucky out-of-division schedule, but the Steelers also benefit by playing in a division with three opponents who each reside within 260 miles or so of Pittsburgh. Seattle, meanwhile, plays in a ‘West’ division that places its teams in three different time zones. Pittsburgh accrues about 1,122 miles in traveling to and from its divisional rivals, while Seattle’s round-trips to their NFC West brethren clock in at a whopping 7,024 miles.”

Mike Sando at ESPN.com takes a look at some recent stadium rule changes that should ensure home teams enjoy a more formidable advantage. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Stadiums will now be free to rile up crowds with video displays, and public-address announcers will no longer be restrained from inciting racket when the opposing offense faces a crucial third down.” Sando points out how these changes might benefit Seattle’s already boisterous 12th Man crowd, “It’s unclear how much louder CenturyLink Field can become, but a few well-timed highlights featuring knockout hits from Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor should help us find out. Likewise, shots of Tony Romo’s infamous botched hold against Seattle in the playoffs years ago should come in handy when Romo is breaking the huddle at CenturyLink for the Seahawks’ home opener this year.”

Sando also continues with his pre-camp analysis – this time with the Seahawks defense and special teams – breaking down who he feels are the safest bets, leading contenders and those who face longer odds to earn roster spots come the end of training camp. On the Seahawks secondary, Sando had this to say, “Three of the four starters went to the Pro Bowl last season; [Richard] Sherman arguably should have gone. [Marcus] Trufant’s conversion to a nickel role has the potential to upgrade Seattle’s coverage. Injuries sidelined Trufant and [Walter] Thurmond last season. Both can contribute at a reasonably high level if healthy. It’s tough to bank on either one, however. Don’t forget about [Byron] Maxwell. He impressed in camp as a rookie, only to fade from the picture after suffering an ankle injury. Seattle likes its depth at corner. [Jeron] Johnson should be ready to take a step forward at safety. The Seahawks like what they’ve seen from [Winston] Guy as well.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we continue with our Rookie Spotlight segment as Seahawks General Manager John Schneider takes a couple of minutes to talk with Tony Ventrella about Seahawks second round draft pick LB Bobby Wagner out of Utah State.

Finally, in the spirit of the holiday, NFL.com asked their staff the question, ‘Which 2012 NFL game should become a national holiday?’ The question sparked some interesting responses, but the unanimous choice was the New England Patriots October 7 game with the Denver Broncos, or as many will see it – Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. “This is an easy one,” said NFL Network’s Ian Rapport. “On Oct. 7, the New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos in a game the entire country should be forced to sit down and watch. The NFL was robbed last year of the its 13th meeting of Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, but not this year. Sure, sure, Manning is playing for Denver now, but the key elements of the NFL’s best quarterback rivalry are still there. Brady and Manning will still be matching right arms in a battle to reach 40 points, with this contest taking place at Gillette Stadium. If history is any indicator, it’ll go down to the wire.”


Wednesday in Hawkville: An ‘overwhelming’ experience for Banks

A recap of the activities on the second day of the Seahawks’ three-day Bing minicamp:

FOCUS ON

Brian Banks. The latest stop on his exoneration tour was a return to Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where Banks began a two-day tryout with the Seahawks after he worked out for the team last Thursday.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to have a number or a jersey,” said Banks, who was wearing No. 43. “I didn’t know what to expect when I first got here. I got to my locker and saw that there was a jersey in it and I just wanted to take a picture of it just for myself.

“It was amazing just to see my name on the back of it. It’s just an honor. It’s an honor to be taken serious and to be given this opportunity.”

In between trips to Seattle, Banks worked out for the Chargers on Friday and the Chiefs on Tuesday. It’s all part of trying to regain his life – and his love for football – after spending 62 months in prison for being wrongly accused of rape.

Today, Banks worked at middle linebacker with the No. 3 defense, flanked by Mike Morgan and Kyle Knox – who, like Banks, is at this minicamp on a tryout basis.

“This is the NFL – the best of the best – so it’s going to be really tough for him,” linebackers coach Ken Norton said. “Just the fact that he came out here and gave it a shot and didn’t shy away from it, you’ve got to give him a plus for that.

“But again, this is the best of the best, the highest level of athlete, and he’s been out of it for 10 years. So it’s going to be really, really tough. … Right now, he has a chance. But it’s going to be really, really tough.”

That’s all Banks is asking: An opportunity to make up for lost time. So today was a huge step for him.

“It was more overwhelming than I thought,” Banks said. “I had high hopes and dreams of being out here today. And then just to finally be out here, to have this helmet on, to have my name on the back of this jersey, to be a part of this team for a day, it’s more than I could ever imagine.”

What’s next for Banks? Another practice, as the Seahawks conclude their minicamp on Thursday. After that?

“What I take from it all, the advice that I appreciate the most, is just enjoy the moment,” Banks said. “Enjoy the moment – if it’s for one day, if it’s for the whole season, if it’s for however long. Just enjoy the moment.

“I’ve already won. I have my freedom. That’s what’s most important to me. Making this team is just an additional blessing to this freedom.”

POSITION WATCH

Quarterback. Today was Matt Flynn’s turn to run the No. 1 offense in the three-way competition for the starting job that also includes Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson.

Flynn admitted that while it is a competition, it’s not a cut-throat situation as he vies with Jackson, the incumbent starter; and Wilson, who was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft.

“I don’t think we look at it like we’re going against each other,” said Flynn, who was signed in free agency after serving as Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay the past four seasons. “We’re trying to help each other out. If they made a good throw, I’m the first one there telling them good job. So it’s not like any bad blood coming out here – where we’re on the field and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m going against you.’

“It’s not like that. Everybody’s trying to compete. Everybody’s trying to get better. And everybody’s trying to make the team better. I think that’s really the overall goal.”

SECONDARY THOUGHTS

Flynn got a taste of just how much closing speed Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas processes. It happened on a deep throw to wide receiver Deon Butler that instead ended up in the hands of Thomas.

“I got first-hand experience to see how fast Earl was today,” Flynn said. “I get a two-minute situation and I’ve Deon streaking down and I throw it. I’m thinking, ‘That might be a touchdown.’ Then all of a sudden I see this flash like come across.

“I don’t think I’ve had a DB back there, especially at safety, with that kind of speed.”

LOOKING GOOD

In addition to Thomas’ out-of-nowhere interception, other practice highlights included nickel back Marcus Trufant slapping away a pass intended for wide receiver Doug Baldwin; wide receiver Charly Martin going up between cornerback Ron Parker and safety Winston Guy to pull down a touchdown pass from Wilson; Guy making a last-second tip of a pass just as it was settling into the hands of wide receiver Phil Bates; tight end Kellen Winslow grabbing a low pass from Jackson for an 18-yard gain; defensive lineman Pep Levingston getting to running back Robert Turbin for a 1-yard loss; and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner reaching around running back Marshawn Lynch to deflect a pass.

ON THE MEND

Eleven players are not practicing as they continue their rehabs from offseason surgeries or more recent injuries: wide receivers Golden Tate, Mike Williams and Jermaine Kearse; offensive lineman James Carpenter; defensive lineman Monte Taylor; linebackers Barrett Ruud, Malcolm Smith and Jameson Konz; and defensive backs Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell and Chris Maragos.

Tate has what coach Pete Carroll calls “a very slight, little crack” in a bone on his right hand, adding the left-handed Tate could play if there was a game this week. Williams is “close” to returning, Carroll said, and should be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July. Ruud is “very close,” in Carroll’s words, and he also should be ready for training camp.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I can’t even imagine. So I wouldn’t be doing justice if I talked about it because I can’t imagine what he’s been through and what he’s feeling just being out here now.” – Flynn, when asked his thoughts on Banks’ situation


Wednesday cyber surfing: That’s Turbin, as in ‘Turbinator’

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, June 13:

Dave Boling at the News Tribune came away from Tuesday’s minicamp practice rightfully impressed with Robert Turbin, the rookie running back from Utah State: “Interviews with 22-year-old athletes don’t ordinarily produce profound messages or perspectives on life and its meaning. But we might come to expect the extraordinary from Robert Turbin. The Seattle Seahawks’ rookie running back is a marvel of mass and velocity, with a quick burst to the line and biceps stolen from an animated action hero. He’s winning fans already with his play. After an impressive breakaway during Tuesday’s minicamp, teammates started yelling their approval: ‘The Turbinator,’ they called him. Regardless how this team progresses this season, Robert Turbin deserves that kind of support.”

The only player not at the mandatory camp – defensive end Chris Clemons – drew most of the coverage. Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times, Eric Williams at the News Tribune, John Boyle at the Everett Herald and Tim Booth at the Associated Press provide updates on his situation.

Williams also provides some observations from practice, including the latest on the QB competition: “Pete Carroll complimented Tarvaris Jackson on the way he threw the ball, and said his incumbent starting quarterback played with confidence in the team’s opening day of minicamp this afternoon. Jackson mostly worked with the first unit today. It will be Matt Flynn’s turn to work with the first unit on Wednesday, as Carroll continues to rotate those two and rookie Russell Wilson with the first unit. ‘He’s doing very well,’ Carroll said about Jackson. ‘He looks really healthy and strong, and very confident in what we’re doing. And he’s making it hard on these guys.’ ”

 
Brian Banks is scheduled to begin his tryout with the Seahawks today, but NFL.com reports that Tuesday he was in Kansas City and also drawing attention from the Vikings: “ ‘I know in talking to (general manager) Rick (Spielman) and the scouting staff, that’s something we’ve talked about and there’s a good chance that he may be coming in,” (Vikings coach Leslie) Frazier said.”

With the Kings winning their first Stanley Cup on Monday night, Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com wonders which NFL team is closest to winning its first Super Bowl. He lists the Seahawks among his “sleeper” picks: “We like what Pete Carroll is doing with the Seahawks defense and think they will be playoff contenders for a while.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with recently acquired tight end Kellen Winslow: “Moments after walking off the field at the conclusion of the Seahawks’ minicamp practice on Tuesday, Kellen Winslow was asked how his impact on the offense might increase once he’s healthy. Winslow’s response was as exact as it was honest. ‘If I was healthy, which I never will be again, I would be Aaron Hernandez and (Jason) Witten together,’ he said. ‘Really?’ the questioner asked. ‘Yeah,’ Winslow said, punctuating the assessment with a laugh. ‘But, hey, I do what I can out there with the situation I have.’ The former Pro Bowl tight end the Seahawks acquired last month in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers never will be 100 percent healthy because of the serious knee injury he got in 2005 while playing for the Cleveland Browns, and the staph infection that followed in 2008. ‘It was the hardest thing that ever happened to me – the accident and then the staph infection on top of that,’ he said.”

We’ve also got a recap of practice in Tuesday in Hawkville, including a look at rookie safety Winston Guy: “The safety from Kentucky continues to wear a red jersey, but the sixth-round draft choice would stand out even without the non-contact apparel. ‘He’s doing a really cool job. I really like this player,’ Carroll said. ‘He brings more than we had hoped, maybe, at this early time.’ The plan when the Seahawks drafted Guy was to use him as a third safety in the “big nickel” defense, which would allow either Thomas or strong safety Kam Chancellor to play closer to the line. ‘His speed is very good. His instincts are excellent,’ Carroll said of Guy. ‘He’s got a lot to learn. But he’s going to play for us and be a part of what we’re doing.’ ”

For a peek at the day’s activities, there’s Tony Ventrella’s video report, as well as the Q&A sessions with Carroll and Jackson.

Elaine Thompson at the Associated Press also has a photo gallery from practice that’s available at PI.com.


Tuesday in Hawkville: A minicamp with maximum emphasis

A recap of the activities on the first day of the Seahawks’ three-day Bing minicamp:

FOCUS ON

The one and only full-squad minicamp. It has been a long time coming, and won’t last all that long. So coach Pete Carroll plans to make the best of every rep.

“It’s good to get back to practice and great to be out here again and see these guys,” Carroll said. “They know this is the last shot they have before (training) camp. So this is very important.”

The emphasis of today’s almost two-hour practice was on reviewing everything that has been installed this offseason.

“So it’s kind of like a test each day,” Carroll said. “We’ll give them a lot situational work and try to make them have to think about where they are on the field, and the time on the clock, and all those kinds of things; as well as their assignments and their techniques.

“So it’s a big camp for communications. It’s a big camp for us to see how we can execute at this time. And really, it’s our last shot to take a look at these guys before we take our big break and get a sense for where the players are and where we are as far as teaching our offense and defense.”

Among the honor campers today: safeties Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead, who had interceptions; rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin, who used his speed for what would have been a sack on a third-and-15 play; quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who threaded a pass to tight end Zach Miller; fullback Michael Robinson, who turned a short pass into a 13-yard gain; and kickers Steven Hauschka and Carson Wiggs, who were a combined 6-for-6 on field goal attempts.

ROOKIE WATCH

Winston Guy. The safety from Kentucky continues to wear a red jersey, but the sixth-round draft choice would stand out even without the non-contact apparel.

“He’s doing a really cool job. I really like this player,” Carroll said. “He brings more than we had hoped, maybe, at this early time.”

The plan when the Seahawks drafted Guy was to use him as a third safety in the “big nickel” defense, which would allow either Thomas or strong safety Kam Chancellor to play closer to the line.

“His speed is very good. His instincts are excellent,” Carroll said of Guy. “He’s got a lot to learn. But he’s going to play for us and be a part of what we’re doing.”

POSITION WATCH

Quarterback, of course. The three-man competition for the starting job continues. Jackson, the incumbent starter, was up first today, followed by free-agent addition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson.

“We’ll just keep that rotation alive. It’s worked well so far,” Carroll said. “Tarvaris is doing very well. He looks really healthy and strong and very confident in what we’re doing. He’s making it hard on these guys, and he’s going to make it real hard on them.

“Which is great, because Matt’s going to be chasing it and Russell as well. But we will even out the snaps, if we can do it right. And today we hit it again.”

How is Jackson handling the competitive situation?

“You take it day by day, as far as coming out and trying to get better,” he said. “But I also look at the big picture. I’ve been in this league long enough to know how things go. So I’m just coming out here competing every day, just trying to do my best and let coach make a decision on what they feel is best for the team.”

In the team drill that concluded practice, Flynn completed five of six passes in leading a drive that ended with a 50-yard field goal by Hauschka, while Jackson was five of five on a drive that led to a 31-yard field goal by Wiggs.

THE BUCS STOP HERE

First, the Seahawks signed former Buccaneers middle linebacker Barrett Ruud in free agency. Then, they traded for former Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. Now, former Bucs wide receiver Antonio Bryant is being given a tryout during this minicamp.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen him and it’s been a while since he’s played,” Carroll said. “He has not had a chance to work with anybody much. So we’re going to give it a few days and see what we can see. We know that he was a fantastic athlete at one time and there was a lot of potential. So we’ll see where he fits.”

Bryant, 31, has not played in the league since 2009. But the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Bryant caught 83 passes for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns in 2008. A second-round draft choice by the Cowboys in 2002, Bryant also has played for the Browns (2004-05) and caught 69 passes for 1,009 yards in 2005. He signed with the Bengals last year, but a knee injury prevented him from playing during the 2011 season. In eight NFL seasons, Bryant has 372 receptions for 5,685 yards (15.3-yard average) and 30 TDs.

Also in for a tryout is former Texans wide receiver David Anderson, a seventh-round draft choice in 2006 who was released during the season last year and signed with the Redskins. The 5-10, 193-pound Anderson has caught 88 passes for 965 yards in seven NFL seasons.

The tryout list also includes tight end Cooper Helfet, who was the rookie minicamp last month; and linebackers Brian Banks and Kyle Knox. Banks who had a tryout last Thursday was working out for the Chiefs today but is scheduled to join the Seahawks’ minicamp tomorrow.

CARROLL ON CLEMONS

Chris Clemons, who has led the team with 11 sacks in each of his first two seasons with the Seahawks, was not at practice and is not expected to attend the mandatory minicamp. The situation involving the veteran defensive end caught Carroll by surprise.

“I thought he was coming, so this is kind of a late development,” Carroll said.

The club continues to work on an extension for Clemons, who is in the final year of his contract.

“We’ve had open communications with the agent and with Chris and feel like everything is on the up-and-up and very amicable,” Carroll said. “It continues to be one of our priorities and we’d love to get him back.

“It’s something we’ve had our eye on for something with him. He’s done a very good job for us in the first couple years and we’re real pleased with his play and work habits.”

In Clemons’ absence, Irvin, this year’s first-round draft choice, continues to get all the reps with the No. 1 defense at the “Leo” end spot.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I don’t know. The farthest I’ve ever thrown it is 80 yards. But I was a baby then. I was 18-, 19-years old. I’ve still got at least about 75. I still probably can get it out about 80. I don’t know. (The 80) was when I was a freshman in college. I haven’t tried it since. I don’t really like to do it. But one of the other quarterbacks actually wanted to see if he could throw longer than me. He forced me to do it. I smashed him. I killed him.” – Jackson, when asked how far he could throw a football


Baldwin’s beauty

The Seahawks not only wrapped up the second week of their OTA practices today, Doug Baldwin wrapped a bow around the drizzle-drenched session with a one-handed catch that had to be seen to really appreciate.

Since that can’t happen, an explanation will have to suffice.

“It was a regular corner route,” said Baldwin, the team’s leading receiver as a rookie last season. “The nickel corner that was playing me (rookie Jeremy Lane) kind of leaned to the outside, so I had to go over the top of him and Matt (Flynn) put the ball in a place where only I could get it.”

Even more impressive was why Baldwin made the one-handed grab for a 35-yard gain.

“You use these practices like a project, so sometimes you do things you wouldn’t normally do to try and make yourself better,” he said. “So I’m working on my ability to go up in different ways to catch the ball.”

The QB rotation system continued, with rookie Russell Wilson up first in the two-hour practice, followed by Flynn and then incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson.

Wilson kicked off one of the team drills with a nice throw that followed an even better read on a play that produced an up-the-seam touchdown pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Wilson later completed six of seven passes and also scrambled for a couple of first downs in a drive that started at the 12-yard line to get the offense in a first-and-goal situation at the 8. But the drive stalled when free safety Chris Maragos and linebacker K.J. Wright made impressive plays on a pair of 1-yard gains and tight end Kellen Winslow couldn’t get both feet down on a third-and-6 pass into the end zone.

Other highlights included rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and rookie safety Winston Guy intercepting passes and Steve Hauschka drilling a 47-yard field goal.

The players are off until Monday, when they return for the final four OTA practices next week.


Special attention

SPECIAL IS AS SPECIAL DOES
Heath Farwell made tackles on special teams in only eight games for the Seahawks last season after being signed at midseason, but he made enough to lead the NFL with 21. Here’s a look at his special contributions in his first season in Seattle:Browns: 1 tackle on a kickoff return.

Bengals: 3 tackles, all on kickoff returns.

Ravens: 2 tackles, including one after a 5-yard gain on a punt return.

Rams: 2 tackles, on punt returns after 6- and 9-yard gains.

Eagles: 3 tackles, all on kickoff returns.

Rams: 4 tackles, all on kickoff returns.

Bears: 3 tackles, including one after a 9-yard gain on a kickoff return; and he also downed a punt at the 3-yard line.

49ers: 0 tackles, but he blocked a punt in the Week 16 game that setup a 4-yard TD run by Marshawn Lynch – making Lynch the first player to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers last season.

Cardinals: 3 tackles, including one after a 4-yard gain on a punt return.

Note: Opponents averaged 11.5 yards on punt returns against the Seahawks last season, but 6.2 yards on the five where Farwell made the tackle; and 26.0 yards on kickoff returns, but 23.3 yards on the 16 where Farwell was in on the tackle.

The coaches are limited to 45 minutes on the practice field with the players during Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program. But each session includes, and ends with, a special teams period.

“It’s pretty cool,” said linebacker Heath Farwell, who led not only the Seahawks but the entire league with 21 coverage tackles last season. “We’re out here working hard. Guys just want to get better, that’s the thing. We’ve got one goal in mind, and that’s to win.”

It’s a sign of just how much emphasis coach Pete Carroll puts on the too-often overlooked last third of the three-part equation to playing winning football. And the special teams were just that for the Seahawks last season. Red Bryant set franchise records by blocking two field goals in a game and four kicks during the season. Jon Ryan led the NFL and tied a club record with 34 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, broke his club single-season records for average (46.6 yards) and net average (39.3) and also got off the longest punt (77 yards) in franchise history. Steven Hauschka tied club records by kicking five field goals in the upset victory over the Ravens and converting at least one three-pointer in 12 consecutive games. Doug Baldwin blocked a punt that Michael Robinson returned for a touchdown, while Farwell also had a blocked punt to set up a TD. The Seahawks ranked 10th in the league in kickoff (24.8) and punt return (11.0) average, thanks to Leon Washington (25.2 and 11.3).

The special teams, under the direction of coordinator Brian Schneider and first-year assistant Marquand Manuel, should only be better – or faster, at the very least – with the infusion of speed from this year’s draft class.

“The two young linebackers look fast and athletic,” Farwell said of second-round pick Bobby Wagner and fifth-rounder Korey Toomer – who have run the 40-yard dash in 4.47 and 4.54 seconds. “That’s going to be a big part of special teams.”

There’s also first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin (4.50 seconds) and sixth-rounders Jeremy Lane (4.48) and Winston Guy (4.53).

But as Farwell as shown in his career, it takes more than just speed to be successful on special teams. He came to the Seahawks at midseason last year after five seasons in Minnesota, where he had 113 coverage tackles to tie for fourth on the Vikings’ all-time list. He led the Vikings in special teams tackles in 2010 (19), 2009 (24), 2007 (32) and 2006 (25), and was voted to the Pro Bowl as the NFC special teams player in 2009.

“It’s the want to make the plays and the want to make the tackles. It’s the effort,” a reluctant Farwell offered when asked the secret to his success. “I don’t know, it’s just something I work at. And I pride myself on it, and outworking everybody and making sure I put more time in than everybody else.”

The players were off today, but return Thursday and Friday to complete Phase 2 of the offseason program.


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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