A recap of the Seahawks’ practice at Bing Training Camp:
Blocking and tackling time. That’s how coach Pete Carroll described the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans at Qwest Field. Because as much work as the players have done in 15 training camp practices – and as much work as the coaches have done installing the new offense and defense – everything will be different Saturday night.
“We haven’t tackled anybody full speed, yet. We haven’t blocked anybody full speed,” Carroll said. “We’ve done as close as we can to that, and that we’ve done very well. But until you get out there and start covering kicks, and laying the blocks, and making the decisions you have to make on the fly like that, you can’t tell.”
One thing you can tell is that Carroll is living his “Always Compete” mantra this week. This might be a preseason game, but it’s a very important game for the team’s first-year coach and his staff.
“This is a really important game for us,” he said. “Everything’s about competition, as you know, and we’ve said it so much. But really, this is test time for our guys. We’ll get to see how far they’ve come, where we are as a team to a certain extent.”
How much will the starters play? Carroll isn’t saying. Which coaches will be on the sideline and who will be in the coaches’ box? Carroll isn’t going there, either.
“I don’t know if there’s ever ‘just any game’ to me,” he said. “These are huge. It is what it is. It’s the first game in preseason, but to us this is the first major test and it’s our first opportunity to make major assessments.”
That has been apparent all week, from the way Carroll approached Sunday’s “mock game” at Husky Stadium as a fifth preseason game to the way he altered the practice routine the past three days.
As quarterback Matt Hasselbeck explained it, “What we tried to do this week is similar to a game-week schedule. It’s not that we’re scouting Tennessee. We’re not scouting Tennessee. But we’re going a with game-week schedule because it’s the first time this coaching staff has been together also.”
Part of that game-week focus included the No. 1 offense going against a composite defense, and vice versa with the No. 1 defense. Up until this week, it was the first units working against each other.
“So it is a little different,” Hasselbeck said. “(Guard) Max Unger even said to me, ‘It feels like a regular-season practice during training camp.’ And that’s pretty much what it is.”
Adrian Peterson. Not that Adrian Peterson, the All-Pro running back for the Minnesota Vikings. But Adrian Peterson the former running back for the Chicago Bears.
The Seahawks signed him today and wasted little time getting Peterson not only on the practice field but into the very first team drill – running into the team’s No. 1 defense.
“I never expected this,” Peterson said with a smile. “But I’m in shape and ready to roll.”
The Bears decided against re-signing Peterson when he became an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he remained in the Chicago area and continued to work out until another team called.
Peterson, 31, played eight seasons for the Bears after being a sixth-round draft choice in 2002. His most-productive season came in 2007, when Peterson rushed for 510 yards and caught 51 passes.
He knew another opportunity would come, eventually.
“It’s kind of far along in camp, but it’s not,” Peterson said. “So you have to be patient.”
Peterson also will get opportunities against the Titans, because Louis Rankin has been sidelined with a sore hamstring, Quinton Ganther took a blow to the head in Sunday’s “mock game” and Leon Washington continues the conclude his rehab from a severely broken leg that ended his 2009 season.
“He’s been a very solid special teams player. We needed a little depth at running back right now,” Carroll said. “Adrian is going to get an opportunity to do some stuff in this game this week.”
Quarterback. Hasselbeck doesn’t know how much he’ll play against the Titans, and Carroll isn’t saying either. But the team’s starter already has been given ample rest during training camp because the coaches wanted backups Charlie Whitehurst and J.P. Losman to receive enough snaps to get comfortable in the offense.
But also because Hasselbeck is Hasselbeck.
“It’s been a conscious decision to make sure that we’re preparing Matt as well as we can,” Carroll said. “And we think part of that is being wise about the number of reps that he gets. … Matt has had a great camp to this point.
“One of the reasons that you can limit Matt’s snaps is because he’s so gifted at the game. He just understands it. He gets it. He’s applied himself at every single turn so he can command what we’re doing and give us the feeling that we can trust in him and take those breaks.”
It’s made for a different camp for Hasselbeck.
“It almost reminds me of back in my first three years where I wasn’t getting a lot of snaps and I was just sort of watching practice,” he said of his days as Brett Favre’s backup with the Packers in Green Bay. “You almost get spoiled getting all the reps, and it’s not much fun to go back to that.
“But that’s just part of it and part of how we’re doing things. It’s probably the smarter way to go.”
Hasselbeck was asked about Washington – the running back, not the state or the lake. In typical Hasselbeck fashion, he served up a classic story.
“He sent me a text last night, way after curfew, asking me about a halfback route on a third-down play,” Hasselbeck said. “I got the text at 5 in the morning and texted him back. It’s just rare that a guy cares that much, he’s working that hard and that he’d reach out to guys.
“He called me a few times in the offseason just to see how I was doing. I’d call him back like, ‘Hey man, what’s up? What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘Nothing, man, just checking in on you and wanted to see how you’re doing.’
“Pretty awesome. It’s rare. And then take what kind of player he is. He’s a great player.”
Linebacker Leroy Hill will not play Saturday night and could miss two weeks because of the knee he sprained practice on Tuesday.
“He’s reacted great to it and it he can get around all right,” Carroll said. “So the signs are all positive. But we’ve got to make sure and do this right.”
Linebacker Joe Pawelek (hamstring) also is out.
Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson and Rankin continue to be sidelined with hamstring problems, but they did some running drills after practice. Carroll said their status for Saturday night will be determined later in the week.
Kicker Olindo Mare and wide receiver Mike Williams returned to practice for the first time since Sunday.
Tackle Ray Willis and defensive lineman Jonathan Lewis sat out practice, while guard Mike Gibson and wide receiver Kole Hokendorf continued to be sidelined.
Offensive lineman Chester Pitts, who was placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list when camp opened, could return in a couple of weeks, Carroll said. Pitts is coming off microfracture surgery on left knee.
The players will have a short practice Friday morning. They are off Sunday and return Monday for a 3:45 p.m. practice that is the final session open to fans. Click here to register.
THE “IN” CROWD
This afternoon’s crowd of 1,555 fans pushed the total for the 14 practices that have been open at Virginia Mason Athletic Center to 20,065.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’ve essentially put the whole encyclopedia of the offense in. We’re going to taper it down for the game and I’m not sure what coach Bates (Jeremy, the offensive coordinator) is planning. I’m kind of wondering that exact same thing myself.” – Hasselbeck, when asked what the most noticeable change in the passing game will be Saturday night