Our reporters at Seahawks headquarters share their first impressions from Saturday's second day of Seahawks training camp.
Here are our daily impressions of what we saw at Seahwks’ training camp from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
1. The connection between Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham is one of the preseason’s most intriguing angles. Graham is athletically imposing (6-7, 265 pounds). He can jump like a basketball player because he used to be one. And he’s fast enough to create mismatches with linebackers. Graham is a truly rare and special talent at his position, and he will make the Seahawks’ offense better. But throwing to Graham is unique in its own way; he can make catches in traffic that other receivers simply can’t. In other words, he is sometimes open even when he isn’t, you know, open. That requires trust, and confidence, and an ability for a quarterback to anticipate those moments. And that will take time for Graham and Wilson to develop that chemistry. The Seahawks say it’s already happening, but it will be one of the most important factors in deciding how good the offense is this year.
2. The pace of Tom Cable’s drills with the offensive line is always startling. Cable, the Seahawks’ veteran offensive line coach, is noted for his efficiency with drills, and it puts pressure on his players to stay focused and sharp at all times. I tried counting how long it took for one group of players in a blocking drill to replace the previous group, and I hardly, if ever, reached two seconds. It tests guys conditioning, and it is one of the biggest challenges for younger offensive linemen like rookies Mark Glowinski (fourth round), Terry Poole (fourth round), Kristjan Sokoli (sixth round).
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3. Tarvaris Jackson still throws a great deep ball. I’m pretty sure I’ve thought this each of the last two years, but Jackson throws such a catchable and accurate deep ball that every season, it’s probably worth pointing out. Jackson has thrown all of 14 passes in the last two seasons, and the hope is he doesn’t throw much more than that this season after re-signing with the Seahawks this offseason. But in preseason games, and in practices, Jackson has shown a knack for throwing these pretty, on-target deep passes to his receiver. He did it again on Saturday, the second day of training camp, and while you may never see that in a game, it is one of the best things he does as a quarterback.
1. Could Derrick Coleman’s injury open up more competition at the fullback spot? It sort of got lost in the hustle and bustle of all the contract news on Friday, but fullback Derrick Coleman is another who is beginning the year on the sidelines. Coleman is on the active roster and not on the PUP or anything, indicating they don’t expect him out long. But he has missed the first two days of practice with a hamstring injury giving the work at fullback to Will Tukafu and undrafted free agent rookie Brandon Cottom. It’s probably unwise to read too much into Coleman missing a few days, and it’s worth remembering that his value to the team may be greater than is realized due to his importance on special teams. It was telling how the coaches referenced his loss prior to the St. Louis game as a major factor to the special teams struggles that followed. Still, the backups are intriguing. Tukuafu has the added value of being able to add depth on the defensive line, and Cottom is a popular pick as a UDFA who could make a real run at a roster spot. The pads will go on soon for the Seahawks, when they will be able to get a better look at what a guy like Cottom can really do.
2. The backup offensive line battles figure to be pretty hotly contested throughout camp. Seattle’s starting offensive line appears pretty stable right now with Russell Okung and Justin Britt at tackle and J.R. Sweezy and Alvin Bailey at guard. The center spot for the moment appears to be a two-man battle between Lemuel Jeanpierre and Drew Nowak. The two are sharing time working with the starting unit, but on Saturday, Jeanpierre again went first in the rotation, appearing to signify he has a slight lead on the job at the moment. Many backup spots, though, appear fairly fluid. Here’s what the second unit appeared to most commonly look like today — LT Garry Gilliam, LG Terry Poole, C Patrick Lewis, RG Mark Glowinski and RT Jesse Davis. The third team looked usually like this: LT Jesse Davis, LG Will Pericak, C Kristjan Sokoli RG Keavon Milton and RT Kona Schwenke. Seattle will likely keep nine or 10 OLs. Too early to really declare anything just two practices in. With the pads going on soon, though, the next week or so will begin to tell a lot.
3. Finally, here are some of the more notable personnel happenings today:
— The only new injury was to tight end Anthony McCoy, who left late in practice. Not sure what it was and we did not get any details (Pete Carroll did not talk today). He is coming off two Achilles injuries but it’s unclear it this injury is related to that.
— Otherwise, there was nothing really new personnel wise. The same players remained out as the day before, and safety Kam Chancellor remains in holdout mode. There doesn’t appear to be any real indication of when he may return or what exactly it will take to get him to return. One source with knowledge of it called it “a messy situation.’’ You’ve heard players support him, such as Michael Bennett, and you heard Carroll say he doesn’t think it will be a distraction in any way. The safety spots remained the same today with Steven Terrell at free safety and DeShawn Shead at strong safety but the Seahawks obviously hope that it returns to Earl Thomas and Chancellor when Sept. 13 rolls around. Chancellor is subject to $30,000 fines for each day of training camp he misses, though that is discretionary and the team can waive that at any time. The team has signed former Oregon State safety Ty Zimmerman to take Chancellor’s spot on the 90-man roster. Zimmerman appeared to be playing mostly at free safety.
— Tempers flare all the time during camp, so keep that in mind when you read about, well, tempers flaring during camp. But tempers did indeed flare a bit today with Bruce Irvin and Russell Okung getting into it with at least two little pushing-and-shoving set-tos late in the workout. Players, coaches broke things up and it was nothing anywhere like the Richard Sherman-Phillip Bates fight of 2013 that will likely remain the standard bearer for such things with the Seahawks. But it is indicative that football is indeed back. Asked after practice about the chippiness today, Okung said: “Well, it’s part of the bloodline of our team. We breath competition every single day, every single time. And that opposing guy on the other side of the ball is going to make us better and we look forward to it every day.”
— Tyler Lockett will almost certainly be the punt returner this year. But he isn’t the only one getting in some work there. Others who took some returns were Doug Baldwin, B.J. Daniels, Kevin Smith, Deshon Foxx and Will Blackmon. Blackmon laughed afterward that everyone forgets he has returned three punts for touchdowns in his career. But he conceded Lockett likely has a hold on the job.
— It was a big day for the team’s big receivers, something I will touch on more later. But the potential height of Seattle’s receiving corps this season really, well, stood out. Jayson touched on Jimmy Graham. Chris Matthews also had a nice catch over the middle today and seems to be off to a nice start. And one of the players of the day was Douglas McNeil, who seems taller than his listed 6-3. He had two nice catches, one on a fade route near the sideline when he got behind Cary Williams. Another WR who had a nice day was former UW star Kevin Smith, who had a touchdown and then ended practice with a diving grab of about 10 yards or so in the middle of the field.