A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:
The end of training camp and the preseason. Camp officially ended Aug. 18, but coach Pete Carroll continued with a training camp approach and mentality the past two weeks because the team had no spring minicamps or OTA sessions due to the 136-day lockout.
“This is it. This is the end of camp,” Carroll said after today’s hour-long practice. “And it seems crucial to us, to see a lot of stuff and make the evaluations we need to make in a number of areas – not just the ones you’re going to put on the roster and not put on the roster, but also schematically we’ve got things that we’re still growing and learning about.”
Then there’s Friday night’s final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field – which also is the last preseason game in the league, with the other 30 teams playing tonight.
“It’s a really important event for us, and hopefully we’ll find out a bunch of stuff that will help us going into next week,” Carroll said.
Next week, of course, is the lead up to the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in San Francisco against the 49ers.
Matt McCoy. Last season, the veteran linebacker who was signed in free agency led the team with 19 special teams tackles, but played exactly zero snaps on defense. Friday night, McCoy will be the middle linebacker in the No. 1 nickel package.
It’s a role that David Hawthorne is expected to fill, but he likely won’t play against the Raiders to rest a sore knee he got in the second preseason game. It’s also a role that could be played by rookie K.J. Wright, who is subbing for Hawthorne in the base defense.
But the coaches want to see what McCoy can do, given the opportunity.
“With David Hawthorne going down, we’ve decided to give Matt a chance to play that spot,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “He’s always been very vocal and a strong leader in there, so we thought we’d give him a chance to run the show.”
McCoy has the experience and ability to play any of the three linebacking positions, which is a needed commodity now that Will Herring has jumped the New Orleans Saints in free agency after filling that role last season.
“Matt has to be ready to play all of them, so we see this as an opportunity to get him some reps in there,” Bradley said. “He has a pretty good understanding of things, so we’ll give him a chance with the first group and see how he does.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Offense: This one came on the final play of the pad-less session, as just re-signed wide receiver Chris Carter went up between a trio of defenders in the end zone to catch a pass from rookie QB Josh Portis.
Defense: Cornerback Brandon Browner making a falling, one-handed deflection of a Charlie Whitehurst pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Kris Durham in the back corner of the end zone.
IN AND OUT
The club added another wide receiver today – rookie free agent Owen Spencer, who had been in camp with the Titans before being released on this week’s roster cut to 80 players.
Safety Josh Pinkard practiced today after sitting out Wednesday to rest a sore knee.
Still sidelined: wide receivers Mike Williams (toe), Sidney Rice (shoulder), Ben Obomanu (head) and Isaiah Stanback (hamstring); running back Marshawn Lynch (ankle), tight end John Carlson (who is scheduled to have season-ending shoulder surgery), defensive lineman Pierre Allen (hamstring), strong safety Kam Chancellor (foot), Hawthorne and the four players who remain on the physically unable to perform list – wide receiver Deon Butler (leg), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe), defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle) and cornerback Roy Lewis (knee).
Carroll stopped short of ruling anyone else out for Friday night’s game, but earlier in the week he said it is unlikely that Lynch and Hawthorne will play against the Raiders.
The players will have a short walk-thru on Friday morning and then play their preseason finale that night at CenturyLink Field.
The 80-man roster must be trimmed to 53 players on Saturday and the team can sign players to its eight-man practice squad on Sunday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“There will be a lot of guys that don’t get to stay with us that deserve to play in the league.” – Carroll, looking to the roster cut on Saturday
John Carlson. Tuesday, it was announced that the team’s incumbent starter at tight end would need season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum. Today, Carlson talked about the injury and the decision to have surgery.
“The decision was kind of made by my shoulder,” Carlson said.
Talk about body language. But that was the case. Initially, Carlson was going to rehab the shoulder and try to play with it.
“It kind of resolved itself by not coming along as far as we wanted it to,” he said. “That’s where my shoulder is. I need to get it fixed and start the rehab process.”
Carlson injured the shoulder diving for a pass in practice on Aug. 13. He then aggravated it later in practice while blocking.
“I’m disappointed, obviously,” Carlson said. “I felt like I had a great offseason of training. Our offseasons are normally devoted to OTAs and minicamps, and those things are great for developing offenses. But the individual training sometimes is lacking and I felt like I had a great offseason in that respect.
“So it’s really disappointing to have to miss this year.”
Kris Durham. The wide receiver, and fourth-round draft choice, has had back-to-back impressive practices. And right on cue, with the preseason finale on Friday night and the roster cut to 53 players on Saturday.
Tuesday, the 6-foot-6 Durham went up and over cornerback Kennard Cox along the sideline to catch a pass from Tarvaris Jackson; made a nice catch of a pass from Charlie Whitehurst despite being held by the defensive back; and adjusted his route on a roll out by Whitehurst to get open, and get a hand slap from coach Pete Carroll for the effort.
Today, Durham caught a half dozen balls, including one where he went over Cox to grab a TD pass from Whitehurst on the final play of the two-hour practice.
“I’m working back into it,” said Durham, who missed the preseason opener because of a sore hamstring but has six receptions in the past two games. “It’s a grind. Some of the guys got banged up, unfortunately, so we were a little shorthanded. But a lot of guys came in and stepped up – (Ricardo) Lockette, Doug (Baldwin), Golden (Tate).
“Everybody was just out there making plays.”
Including the one he didn’t mention: Durham.
“I’m just trying to compete and get better,” he said.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Both involved Lockette, the ridiculously fast rookie free agent. On the first – the offensive play of the day – Lockette somehow made a reaching, one-handed grab of a pass from rookie QB Josh Portis in the end zone despite free safety Earl Thomas being all over him.
“Actually, I didn’t even see him coming,” Thomas said. “I’m looking at the ball and all of sudden he was just there. Boom. It was a great catch.”
When Portis went to Lockette again a few plays later, it produced the defensive play of the day as rookie cornerback Richard Sherman matched the speedy receiver step for step as he locked in on the ball. Sherman then went up in front of Lockette to intercept the pass.
IN AND OUT
Wide receivers Patrick Williams and Chris Carter, who were released Monday, were re-signed today. The club needed their hands because Sidney Rice (shoulder), Ben Obomanu (head) and Isaiah Stanback (hamstring) did not practice, Mike Williams (foot) was limited to individual drills and Deon Butler (leg) remains on the physically unable to perform list.
Each receiver celebrated his return with a nice catch. Williams turned and jumped in one smooth motion to catch a Portis pass along the sideline against cornerback Brandon Browner. Carter ran a nice route and made an even better catch of a pass from Jackson while running toward the opposite sideline, an effort that earned a hand slap from Carroll as Carter returned to the huddle.
Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Dexter Davis and Leroy Hill returned after sitting out Tuesday, while strong safety Kam Chancellor was limited.
But eight others sat out, including running back Marshawn Lynch (ankle) and middle linebacker David Hawthorne (knee). Leon Washington got the first reps with the No. 1 offense for Lynch, while rookie K.J. Wright continued to fill in for Hawthorne. Atari Bigby worked for Chancellor with the No. 1 defense.
Also out: safety Josh Pinkard (knee), defensive end Pierre Allen (hamstring) and Carlson, in addition to the other three players who are PUP – tight end Cameron Morrah (foot), defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle) and cornerback Roy Lewis (knee).
Just how good was Baldwin’s 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Saturday night’s game against the Broncos in Denver? We decided to ask Washington, who had scoring returns of 101, 99 and 92 last year in his first season with the Seahawks.
“Doug does a good job of practicing it, he hits it hard in practice,” Washington said. “So I wasn’t surprised in the game for him to finish the way he did. That was impressive.”
Washington saw the same thing that Baldwin mentioned after the game: Great blocking that allowed Baldwin to run untouched until he eluded one would-be tackle at the 20-yard line.
“We had a bounce set up, where he’s going to sell it to the middle of the field and then bounce it to the left,” Washington said. “The wedge did a good job, and Doug did a good job of selling it. Once he broke it to the left, there was nobody over there. So he did a good job.”
The players have a morning practice on Thursday, their final full session before Friday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field. They will then have Saturday and Sunday off.
The 80-man roster must be trimmed to 53 players on Saturday.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’ll be fun to see those guys, I know them so well. So it will definitely be fun to go out there and play against my old team.” – tight end Zach Miller, who played the last four seasons for the Raiders