A recap of the day’s activities at the Seahawks’ OTA session:
Deon Butler. Talk about making your coach look good. Two days after Pete Carroll said that Butler probably was the most improved wide receiver on the roster, last year’s third-round draft choice went out and justified the praise with performance.
Butler caught a half dozen passes during today’s nearly two-hour practice – which was moved to the indoor practice facility because of the inclement weather. Included in his productive morning was a pair of touchdown receptions from Matt Hasselbeck. He would have had a third, but middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu tipped away a pass intended for Butler, who was open in the back of the end zone.
“I feel like I’ve been working on running routes and getting better each day,” Butler said. “Today, it just happened that a lot of opportunities went my way. I was the first read in a lot of the progressions, so it just turned out to be a good day.”
With T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hernia) and Deion Branch (knee) sidelined following surgery, it is providing just such opportunities for the other receivers.
Butler worked almost exclusively at split end as a rookie, but now he’s playing flanker and also in the slot in three- and four-receiver sets.
“It’s working out well,” he said. “I like the position. I like the routes they’re having me run. I’m feeling good about it.”
He’s not alone in that assessment.
“Deon has probably made more progress than anybody,” Carroll said Monday. “He’s more disciplined about his route running. We know he’s really fast. He’s been a consistent catcher. It’s just that he needs to be physical. As a smaller guy (5-10, 182), he’s got to stay on his feet and not get knocked around by the defensive backs.
“But he’s in it, and in the competition he’s right in the middle of it all. He’s running a lot with the first group, so we’re getting a really good look at it him right now.”
The move inside forced a few tweaks in the practice plan, because the players were sharing one field rather than being able to spread their drills over the three outdoor fields.
But it didn’t dampen the tempo or enthusiasm.
The coaches even included some extra sets of plays at the end of practice to give the second- and third-unit players more snaps – including QB J.P. Losman, who saw his most extensive action in the three practices he has participated in since signing with the team last week.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
How many roster spots are there for wide receivers? I read we’ve got 15 or 16 guys right now on the 90-man roster. It doesn’t seem like we have enough room for the names we have got already. Between Branch, Houshmandzadeh, Mike Williams, Golden Tate, and Butler we won’t have any room for vets like Ben Obomanu. Are we going to list Tate as a punt returner rather than a wide receiver? Are we going to shuffle the roster to make sure we have room? – Bobby, Salem
A: Your question actually was selected before practice, Bobby, but it is even more pertinent after Butler’s make-the-most-of-any-opportunity performance in practice.
There currently are 15 wide receivers on the roster, and the Seahawks traditionally have carried six on the 53-man roster – or occasionally five, with a couple more on the practice squad. Don’t expect the club to carry more just because they have extra numbers at the position. This is all part of Carroll’s quest to create more – and better – competition at every position.
What the receivers can’t do is start counting numbers. You know, there’s Houshmandzadeh and Branch, the incumbents; there’s Tate, a second-round draft choice; there’s Mike Williams, who has been impressive since being signed after a tryout at the first minicamp. So that’s a spot, or two, for the other 11 – a group that includes Butler, Obomanu, Mike Hass, Mike Jones and Sean Morey, a Pro Bowl special teams player who was signed in free agency.
Instead, they need to follow Butler’s lead. That is, if the ball comes your way, catch it and do something with it after the catch.
Even if they were to list Tate as a punt returner, as you suggest, or Morey as a special teams performer – a la Alex Bannister – they still count on the 53-man roster.
The competition at wide receiver will be worth watching all summer, especially after Houshmandzadeh and Branch get back on the field.
YOU DON’T SAY
“This is a very competitive atmosphere for everybody, and that’s all anybody can want.” – veteran safety Lawyer Milloy, who is working at strong safety this week with first-round draft choice Earl Thomas as the free safety in the No. 1 defense