Things we learned from Seahawks' training camp Tuesday include thoughts on Thomas Rawls, Jeremy Lane and Chris Carson.
Here are three observations on Seahawks’ practice Tuesday from beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First, from Jenks:
1, Thomas Rawls still loves contact.
That’s an obvious thing to anyone who has watched Rawls run, but it was obvious again on Tuesday, when the Seahawks wore shoulder pads for the first time.
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On one carry, Rawls lowered his shoulder into a defender, causing him to exchange a few words with the defense. A little later, he did the same thing, which led to another little confrontation.
So, yeah, Rawls still runs like he’s hunting for contact. He takes pride in it. Relishes it. It’s part of his identity, he’ll tell you, part of where he comes form.
It’s one of the things the Seahawks love about Rawls: He gains yards, but he also sets a tone. He runs the way the Seahawks want their running backs to run.
The issue with Rawls has been injuries, but if he stays healthy, he’ll bring the style the Seahawks demand from their running backs.
2, Pete Carroll said something interesting about Earl Thomas.
Earl Thomas is about to begin his eighth NFL season. This is one of those things you know to be true, but it’s still weird to see it. Has it really been that long?
Anyway, all eight of Thomas’ years have been with Pete Carroll, and on Tuesday, Carroll offered high praise for how Thomas looks right now:
“I told Earl this morning that he looks in better condition and faster than I’ve ever seen him since year one or two,” Carroll said. “The last three or four years, this is the best he’s ever been.”
Thomas is coming off a season-ending injury, and the Seahawks saw in his absence how much he means to the defense.
3, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham both made ridiculous catches.
Jimmy Graham hauled in a juggling catch in traffic, surrounded by defenders — the kind of play he’s specially suited to make, seeing he’s a humungous human being.
Doug Baldwin made a leaping, one-handed catch over the middle — the kind of play he’s made before (Remember the playoff game against Minnesota?).
Small reminders that both guys are really, really good at catching a football.
And from Condotta:
1, Chris Carson could really make a run at tailback.
Carson, a seventh-round pick out of Oklahoma State, has been intriguing since the day he was drafted due in part to the high praise he received from coach Pete Carroll, who called him something of a personal favorite.
We didn’t see much of Carson in the offseason program, though, due to a lingering hamstring injury.
But Carson has been full go in training camp, and on the first day of any pads on Tuesday he was as impressive as anyone, showing good vision and quickness as well as a smooth stride.
After a final touchdown run late in practice quarterback Russell Wilson and Baldwin each sprinted down field to pat hit him on the helmet.
Asked about Carson later Carroll smiled and gave a short answer saying “he did a nice job today.’’
Maybe at this point Carroll would prefer to let everyone find out about Carson on their own. If Carson continues to show what he did Tuesday, he could well find himself making a legit run at a roster spot — he’s likely battling with Alex Collins for the fourth spot behind Rawls, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise.
2, Blair Walsh is off to a good start.
Maybe it’s because Seahawks fans mostly remember Blair Walsh for his shocking 27-yard miss that allowed Seattle to beat Minnesota in a wild card playoff game following the 2015 season. Or maybe it’s because they still don’t want to let go of Stephen Hauschka, one of the most popular kickers in NFL history.
But there has seemed to be a lot of skepticism about the ability of Walsh to serve as a capable replacement for Hauschka. Recall the Seahawks signed Walsh to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million as a free agent after deciding to let Hauschka walk. Hauschka eventually signed a three-year contract worth almost $9 million.
Not only did they view it as saving a lot of needed money but also potentially getting just as good of a kicker. While fans may inevitably remember the miss against the Seahawks as well as a few others that caused the Vikings to release him last year, the Seahawks prefer to think he can again be the kicker who was first team All-NFL in 2012 and made the first 12 field goals of longer than 50 yards in his career.
Walsh at the moment has no competition. But with a contract that includes no guaranteed money the team could easily make a move if he struggles.
Walsh was 2-4 when camp opened on Sunday. But he’s rebounded the last two days to go 10-10 in team sessions including 6-6 on Tuesday, all kicks between 24 and 43 yards.
3, Jeremy Lane remains the frontrunner for the starting right cornerback job.
Carroll called the right cornerback job wide open during the spring. But the veteran Lane may be close to making it an open-and-shut case.
Lane has been the starter opposite Richard Sherman throughout camp (as he also was in the spring) and received a hearty vote of confidence from Carroll after Tuesday’s practice.
“Jeremy Lane had a fantastic offseason,’’ Carroll said. “He made a big shift in his mentality and his approach. He is so serious. He studied so much. He has applied himself in his conditioning work, his strength work, his focus on the field. He has been fantastic. You ask anyone in the program and they will tell you Jeremy Lane is on fire right now. I think he sees the opportunity and he wants to go for it and he wants to own it and we couldn’t ask for more. He is off to a great start and he looks fantastic.”
While Lane appears in line to be the starter at RCB, he also will still be the main nickel back, it appears. As camp has opened the Seahawks have continued what they did in the spring, which is have Lane and Sherman as the two starting corners in the base defense, then when they go to nickel Lane moves inside to cover the slot and Neiko Thorpe or Shaquill Griffin has come in to play right corner. Thorpe appears still the leader for that but on Tuesday Griffin also got some significant time with the number one defense, as well.