Sidney Rice. The freshly signed wideout, in only his second practice with the team, is already making a splash and proving why the Seahawks went after him in free agency last week.
The fifth-year pro recorded another jaw-dropping catch on Friday, making a swirling grab over the middle by snatching it from cornerback Marcus Trufant’s hands and reeling it in just before falling to the ground. The play drew hearty applause from the fans in attendance — and praise from his head coach after the practice.
“He’s really, really talented,” Pete Carroll said of Rice. “He loves to compete in practice, and he’s embracing this opportunity to show who he is.”
Rice is doing just that. Rice made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and has an NFL record for most receiving touchdowns in a playoff game (three), and now finds himself making plays with the Seahawks — and he’s only two days into his career in Seattle.
“He wants to make a statement,” Carroll said, “and he’s already done it.”
Defensive line. It’s still under construction, yet the pieces are coming together.
With projected defensive end starters Chris Clemons and Red Bryant sitting out of practice again today and end Raheem Brock not with the team yet, the defensive line featured several holes on Friday. Carroll asked for a grace period before assessing that unit.
“Give us a couple of days,” the head coach said on Friday.
But after that leeway, the d-line could be humming at a nice rate. Re-signed Brandon Mebane and free agent pick-up Alan Branch will take up the middle between the experienced bookend duo of Clemons and Bryant, and the bevy of backups should make the unit one of the strongest on the Seahawks.
“With Raheem coming in, I feel like we have a pretty complete group there,” Carroll said.
Malcolm Smith. The seventh-rounder from USC has begun to leave his mark on the Seahawks practice field, just 10 practices into his first training camp.
The outside linebacker had a magnificent interception during 11-on-11 situational drills today, stepping in front of a slant route to snatch the pick and set off a wild celebration from his teammates. It was the latest in a string of impressive plays from Smith, who played for Carroll and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. at USC.
He said he’s already comfortable with the schemes and practice speed — so much so that he’s becoming slightly prophetic.
“The offense ran that play three days in a row,” Smith said after today’s practice. “The first time, I made the tackle. The second time, I batted it down. So I said that if it came to me again, I was going to get the interception.”
He did that, and he hopes to do much more in the coming weeks as he fights for his spot in the rotation. With Leroy Hill sidelined until Thursday because of the free agent rules associated with the new CBA, Smith was playing with the top unit. He’s since dropped into the second line, and he’s also finding his place on special teams.
“The speed’s not that different, but the guys are bigger here,” Smith said. “I’m definitely learning a lot.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Offense: Besides Rice’s catch, tailback Marshawn Lynch scooted left and bounced off two would-be tacklers before breaking free for a 25-yard gain, eliciting cheers from the fans.
Defense: Safety Kam Chancellor had an acrobatic interception off a tipped pass during 7-on-7 period, marking the third straight practice with a pick for the second-year defensive back.
OUT OF ACTION
Wide receiver Ben Obomanu was excused from practice to tend to family matters.
Bryant, cornerback Walter Thurmond and defensive end Dexter Davis sat out of practice. Clemons was limited. Wide receiver Deon Butler (leg), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe), defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle) and cornerback Roy Lewis (knee) remained sidelined while recovering from surgeries. Carroll said Cole and Lewis are still “weeks” away from returning to practice.
ODDS AND ENDS
A 2011-best 1,753 fans attended today’s practice. About 2,100 are expected for Saturday morning’s workout. … DE Raheem Brock had not arrived in Seattle yet … Carroll remained on the field more than 25 minutes after practice to sign autographs, staying until every fan’s requests were fulfilled. … Friday’s weather for practice was unusual yet welcomed — 68 degrees and cloudy. “To get the cloud cover for these guys, it was great for our players,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks will practice at 9 a.m. on Saturday before taking Sunday off. Sign up to attend Saturday’s workout, or any of the remaining seven open-to-the-public practices, here.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’re always looking for special dimensions. He’s a unique character at that spot.” – Carroll said of 6-foot-3 Brandon Browner, the team’s tallest cornerback and someone who’s been standing out during camp.