A recap of the only practice Wednesday at Seahawks training camp:
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Max Unger. The rookie offensive lineman gets the nod more for quantity than quality.
It’s not that the second-round draft choice from Oregon didn’t make some good blocks. But the real story was that he moved into the No. 1 unit at right guard for the first time because Mansfield Wrotto was out with a leg injury after being flattened by defensive tackle Craig Terrill in practice on Monday night.
But that was just the most obvious tip of all the things Unger was doing this afternoon during the two-hour practice in full pads. He also was playing center with the No. 2 line and even got some snaps at left guard.
“We’re short a couple guys on the O-line, so we had a pretty quick rotation,” Unger said, as sweat dripped off his nose and from his beard.
Starting center Chris Spencer returned for the first time since twisting his left ankle in practice Friday morning, but he was limited to individual drills. Still sidelined are Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones (back) and veteran linemen Cory Withrow (knee) and Grey Ruegamer (elbow).
That’s why Unger was at right guard. And center. And left guard.
“It’s tough to do right now, but it’s real good,” he said. “All you can ask for is as many reps as you can get in team (drills), especially with the first unit going into the No. 1 defense.
“You can’t really replicate the speed of a starting defense. It’s a pretty big jump to do that.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
There were enough good plays that we’ll give one to the offense, one to the defense and one to Cory Redding.
Offense: On the final play of practice, with the No. 2 offense working in a two-minute situation and facing a third-and-10, wide receiver Mike Hass capped a 49-yard touchdown drive by making a leaping catch in the end zone of a pass from Seneca Wallace.
Defense: In the 7-on-7 drill, middle linebacker David Hawthorne tipped away a Matt Hasselbeck pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Deon Butler. That was good enough, considering how fast Butler is. But what made the play really special was the fact that Hawthorne – a.k.a. “Heater” – was 25 yards downfield.
Redding: In an early drill where the defensive ends were working on dropping into coverage, the 292-pound Redding took his turn to be the extra-wide receiver seriously. When he stepped to the line, Redding flashed the extended arm gesture real receivers give to the official to make sure they’re lined up properly. Once he broke off the line, Redding threw several stutter steps and head fakes at the defender.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Q: Brian in Kennewick asks, “At what point in the preseason will the offensive line battles be done and set?”
A: The first thing that needs to happen for this question to be answered is for the line to get whole. Jones has not practiced since the second day of camp because of back spasms, and that has created a situation where right tackle Sean Locklear is now on the left side – and replaced on the right side by either Ray Willis or Kyle Williams. When Spencer was out, Steve Vallos was at center with the No. 1. And then there was the release of left guard Mike Wahle on the first day of camp, which prompted the move of Rob Sims from right guard.
You get the jumbled picture. This unit won’t be set until offensive line coach Mike Solari has his intended starters on the field together.
When that happens, the left side of line will be – from tackle to center – Jones, Sims and Spencer. On the right side, the guard will be Wrotto, Unger, Willis or Locklear, with Locklear or Willis at right tackle. The backups will be Wrotto and Unger, if Locklear and Willis emerge as the starters on the right side, as well as Vallos and Williams.
Strong safety Deon Grant and cornerback Josh Wilson not only returned after sitting out since straining their groins in practice Monday, each intercepted a pass.
Also back were wide receiver Nate Burleson, linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Will Herring, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson and Spencer.
Still out: Defensive end Patrick Kerney (calf) and cornerback Marcus Trufant (back), as well as Jones, Withrow and Ruegamer.
The players will practice once Thursday, starting at 2:30 p.m. The session is open to the public, but fans registered for the sold-out session will be notified via email if the practice has to be moved inside because of the weather.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’ll find out. We’re a little beat up. We haven’t had a day off. With coach (Jim) Mora, it’s like ‘Camp Grind ’Em Out’ here, you know? It’ll be fun just to kind of go against somebody else after going against each other for two weeks.” – wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, when asked how he thought the team will fare in Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego