A recap of the day’s activities at the Seahawks’ OTA session:
Letting them play on getaway day. Today wasn’t just the team’s seventh OTA practice, it also setup the first extended break in the offseason program.
Coach Pete Carroll marked the occasion with an extended team period during the 100-minute practice and then cut his players and staff loose until June 7. The next OTA session is June 8.
“It’s kind of like spring break,” Carroll said. “The players in particular, they’ve been working so hard they needed a week off to recover.”
The players appreciated the chance to put into practice what they’ve been practicing.
“It was definitely more game-like,” quarterback Charlie Whitehurst said. “It let us see where we are as a team and as an offense. So I thought it was good.”
On the first play of the extended team period, middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu intercepted a Matt Hasselbeck pass. Before it was over, running back Justin Forsett scored on a 1-yard run, Olindo Mare kicked field goals from 30, 51 and 41 yards and the defense forced what would have been punts on five series – thanks to third-down plays from end Chris Clemons and cornerback Kelly Jennings, a big second-down effort from end Red Bryant and consistent pressure from end Ricky Foley that resulted in a tipped pass, a “sack” and a hurried incompletion.
The coaches got good looks at their respective players in third- and even fourth-down situations, two-minute conditions and various personnel groupings.
“We had a little bit of everything, just to give us talking points and teachable moments,” Carroll said.
As with most things Carroll has done since arriving in January, there also was a deeper meaning to all the motion on the practice field. He drove home that point in his post-practice talk to the players.
“It’s kind of the ethic about competition on the practice field and how it works,” Carroll reiterated. “It’s never to beat the other guy. It’s to assess how far you can take your own game. So when guys push you, it helps you. When you realize it’s the guys across from you that are the ones responsible for that, then there’s an exchange and an appreciation – which we’re trying to convey, so the guys have a deep appreciation for the guys that make them work and it brings us closer.
“That is something I’ve always preached.”
The players got that message, as well.
“It was good to just play football, rather than have drill work,” Tatupu said. “It was closer to how it’s going to be on Sundays, and it also gave us a better feel for the guys on both sides of the ball.”
The club has made another move, releasing rookie defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger. A 320-pounder from Oklahoma, he was among the 15 free agents signed after the draft.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
My question is, even though they are in a rebuilding stage, don’t you feel – like myself – that they have a good shot at winning their division? Even though I live in the East, I never miss a Hawks game. Go Hawks Go! – John, Montreal
A: General manger John Schneider and Carroll have done a number on the roster, as we explored in this story last week. The turnover is intended to create better competition on the team, John, which in turn should make the Seahawks more competitive in the NFC West.
For a team that has won nine games the past two seasons, getting competitive is the first step toward competing for the division title. But I do see the division being up for grabs this season, with the Cardinals losing QB Kurt Warner, the 49ers going with QB Alex Smith and the Rams, well, still in rebuilding mode.
Is this enough to carry the Seahawks back to the top of a division they dominated from 2004-07? It could be, but they will need their best players to have their best seasons – as was the case in 2005, when they made their Super Bowl run.
YOU DON’T SAY
“You watch these guys every day. The way they run around. The way they fly around. That’s just not an accident. These guys have been training their butts off. So there comes a point where they’ve got to have time to recover. This is where we’re at right now. So we can go out and go stronger when we come back. A little break is always good for them.” – strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle