Wednesday in Hawkville

A recap of the day’s activities at the Seahawks’ practice during the second and final day of the team’s last minicamp of 2010:

FOCUS ON

The end. Following 19 total practices, three minicamps, 11 OTAs and 14 weeks of strength and conditioning workouts, the Seahawks have wrapped up their offseason program and now have five weeks off before training camp opens at the end of July.

Today’s practice, conducted under a sunny sky and in warm temperatures, acted as the final tune in a nearly three-month-long offseason orchestration that saw the Seahawks lay the foundation for the 2010 season. Coaches and players alike sang their praises about what has been accomplished since the team first gathered for a minicamp in mid-April.

“A lot has happened but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re a better team, a more talented team than when we finished the season, and that’s a great thing,” said quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who again turned in an impeccable performance on Wednesday, a common trend for the veteran this offseason. “It’s a step in the right direction, it’s a start, and this is just the first part of it.”

The coaches and veteran players now have the next five weeks off before reporting back at the end of July for training camp. The rookies will remain at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for the next two weeks to continue training with the strength staff, but everyone else will get time to refresh and recuperate after a demanding yet rewarding offseason.

“The break lets everyone get away,” Hasselbeck said, “but also gives us a chance to focus in.”

EARL THE PEARL

Leave it to the rookie to make the standout play of Wednesday’s minicamp-ending practice.

During a red zone team period, safety Earl Thomas, the Seahawks’ 14th overall pick in April’s NFL draft, made a great read and then a stellar diving interception off a bullet throw from Matt Hasselbeck.

The veteran quarterback was shocked by the rookie’s impressive play.

“He shouldn’t be able to get there, but he got there and made a heck of a diving catch,” Hasselbeck said. “He’s very fast. He’s a playmaker.”

For Earl, the pick acts as a crowning achievement for the two months of challenging meetings and practices since he was drafted in late April.

“There was a lot of frustration in taking what I was learning in the classroom to the field,” Earl said. “But it’s finally paying off for me. Now I just want to keep building off that.”

FILLING IN QUITE NICELY

The depth chart’s top three tailbacks were out of team drills for the second straight day Wednesday, opening up huge windows of opportunity for backups Quinton Ganther and Louis Rankin.

Justin Forsett (wedding) and Julius Jones (renewing marriage vows) were absent again, and tailback Leon Washington (recovering from a broken leg) participated in only individual work for the second consecutive practice.

But Ganther and Rankin both capitalized on the extra reps Wednesday, each flashing their special skills during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 work. On several runs, Ganther, who was signed by the Seahawks in March after a season with the Redskins, showed off his unique combination of quickness and size. Meanwhile, Rankin, the Washington alum who is entering his second season with the Seahawks, utilized his shiftiness and speed on numerous occasions Wednesday.

PLAYS OF THE DAY

Here are some highlights from Wednesday’s practice:

  • Charlie Whitehurst launched a rainbow ball to connect with wideout Golden Tate deep downfield during team drills.
  • During a red zone drill, Matt Hasselbeck threaded a perfect through the defensive backfield to hit tight end John Carlson, who was racing across the field for a 15-yard touchdown.
  • Wideout Deon Butler made a fantastic leaping grab during team period.
  • In 11-on-11 drills, defensive lineman Rob Rose produced one of the highlights of the day. Chasing the quarterback out of the backfield, Rose put his arms up to disrupt the pass, but the ball stuck to his hands like a magnet. Slightly surprised, Rose had the interception and rumbled upfield for a touchdown.
  • Wideout Kole Heckendorf reeled in a 35-yard bomb from Charlie Whitehurst in the back right corner of the end zone during team period.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER

Wednesday’s practice went to the birds.

Not only was a bald eagle flying around Virginia Mason Athletic Center off and on during the workout, but Taima, the augur hawk that flies at Seahawks home games, made an appearance at VMAC with trainer David Knutson as well. Carroll met the mascot and got a brief education on its role following practice.

YOU DON’T SAY

“They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do. I couldn’t be more fired up with where we are as a team right now.” –Pete Carroll, following Wednesday’s practice that concluded the team’s third minicamp and wrapped up the entire offseason program


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