A recap of the Monday morning practice at Seahawks training camp:
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Deon Grant. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley challenged his players Sunday night to pickup their play – and make more plays.
Guess who was the leader of the response unit Monday morning? That’s right, the team’s veteran strong safety and defensive co-captain. Grant intercepted a pass that went off the hands of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, broke up another pass and generally was the metronome for the improved play by the entire defense.
“Deon is a leader back there,” Bradley said. “He’s so well respected by his teammates. Now on top of that he makes some plays, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
PLAY OF THE DAY
Houshmandzadeh the receiver became Houshmandzadeh the passer on an end around play. The idea was good. The execution, not so much, as free safety Brian Russell intercepted the pass that was intended for Nate Burleson.
“I thought Nate was going to make me look good,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I made him look bad.”
Coach Jim Mora’s assessment of Houshmandzadeh as a passer: “It looked good coming out of his hand. It didn’t look good going into Brian’s hands.”
But the end result doesn’t erase the original plan.
“We’ve got to be able to so some things like that,” Mora said. “We’ve got to be able to make the defense defend the whole field. So you’ll see that. You’ll see some reverses. You’ll see some flea-flickers. You’ll see some reverse passes.”
And to see them in a game, you have to work on them in practice.
PERIOD OF THE DAY
The team ended the first practice open to the public with a hurry-up offense drill, much to the fans’ enjoyment. The period was pre-planned, not a ploy to play to the fans.
“We have a pretty strict schedule that we adhere to in terms of our installation,” Mora said, with an eye to the Aug. 15 preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego. “So that was planned. But it worked out really well.”
For the players, and the fans.
Matt Hasselbeck completed each of his four passes in leading the No. 1 offense to a score – his 20-yard touchdown pass to Houshmandzadeh. Seneca Wallace also moved the No. 2 unit down the field, until he was “sacked” by cornerback Kevin Hobbs on a fourth-and-6 play. Rookie Mike Teel looked share while completing five passes in a row, but the drive for the No. 3 unit stalled when fullback Justin Griffith was stopped short of the end zone on the final play.
“It was three good drives, offensively and defensively,” Mora said. “That throw Matt made to T.J. was nice. The defense wanted a sack, but I didn’t think it was a sack.”
You can image how that went over after 10 training camps of former coach Mike Holmgren giving the offense every benefit of the doubt. The defensive players were thinking – hoping – that might change with the defensive-minded Mora taking over.
“I have to go into the (defensive) room every once in a while and tell them, ‘Hey, listen,’ ” Mora said. “They call me a turncoat and things like that. But that’s all right. I’m for the team. I’m for the Seahawks.”
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane did not practice after bruising his left knee Sunday. Mora said he expects Mebane to be back in a day or two.
Mebane, however, didn’t just watch practice. He spent most of the time riding a stationary bike, under the commanding guidance of strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark in what Mora called “the torture chamber.”
“The goal really is, you’d like guys to say, ‘Hey, I’d rather practice than be hurt, because being hurt is worse because I’ve got to go over there in the Mike Clark area,’ ” Mora said.
Left tackle Walter Jones sat out again because of back spasms. Mora said Jones was scheduled to practice Sunday, before he took a wrong step and his back locked up. Jones was given a MRI to make sure the situation was not serious.
Cornerback Marcus Trufant remains on PUP (physically unable to perform), also because of a sore back.
“Marcus seems to be getting closer (to joining practice),” said Mora, who spoke with Trufant on Sunday night. “He said he’s feeling better.”
Tackle Ray Willis also sat out, part of a program to limit him because he has had knee problems in the past. Willis also spent practice in “the torture chamber,” tossing around a medicine ball with Clark.
YOU DON’T SAY
“Any time I say the word ‘back,’ I get a little tense and I’m sure I make everybody nervous.” – Mora, when asked about Jones missing practice because of back spasms after what happened with Hasselbeck last season.