Here are impressions from today's Seahawks mini-camp from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
Here are three impressions from Thursday’s Seahawks’ mini-camp practice from beat reporters Bob Condotta and Jayson Jenks.
First, from Condotta:
1. A day for the defense: The structure of this practice was the same as for the OTAs — no contact, and the team going without helmets once the team periods began. That makes it hard to judge much about what happens up front, but a little easier to assess the skill positions. And on this day, the secondary appeared to get the better of the passing battles, with the passing game on offense spotty, at best. If there was a play of the day, it came when Kam Chancellor tipped a Russell Wilson pass into the hands of a diving K.J. Wright. We were able to watch only four of the 11 workouts Seattle has had since OTAs began, so it’s hard to make sweeping judgments. But from what we saw, some of the new faces in the Seattle secondary appeared to acquit themselves well — Cary Williams, taking over for Byron Maxwell; Will Blackmon, stepping in for the injured Jeremy Lane at nickelback; and DeShawn Shead, playing free safety for the injured Earl Thomas. Thomas watched today from the sidelines but is said to be progressing as well as hoped, a reminder that the Legion of Boom remains in full bloom.
2. Rawls a surprise contender at tailback?: Christine Michael was sidelined most of the day with a hamstring injury, and with Marshawn Lynch sitting out as his usual course of action this time of year, and Robert Turbin rehabbing from hip surgery, that left most of the snaps with the No. 1 offense at tailback today to UDFA Thomas Rawls, who began his career at Michigan before playing last season at Central Michigan. The 5-9, 215-pounder is an intriguing physical prospect who was regarded by some as a mid-round prospect but had some off-field issues (detailed here) that helped lead to him slipping to free agency. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, though, sounded pretty excited about what he has seen so far from Rawls. “I’ve studied Thomas a lot,” Carroll said today. “I love his style of running. Really heading up. He goes after guys. When you guys get to see him when we get the pads on, you will see how physical he is. He had play after play after play in college of just smacking people and breaking tackles and all that. He shows very good feet. He’s caught the ball well. He’s going to be a very willing blocker. He’s a real bright spot. He’s really jumped out at us. He’s been very consistent through the whole thing, knowing that his most exciting dimension maybe we haven’t seen yet. He had a great camp. It will be really fun to see him when we start playing ball.”
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3. Nowak a legit contender at center?: Another player who was a real riser during OTAs and mini-camp is center Drew Nowak, who spent much of the last OTA and today working with the No. 1 offense at center, alternating with Lemuel Jeanpierre. Nowak is left-handed, which is a little unique for a center. But Carroll said today that’s not an issue and said Nowak could be a legit factor in the competition at center come training camp. “We are giving Drew a real look at that spot,” Carroll said. It’s a real key spot for you guys to watch to see how it works out. That will be as competitive as any spot we have.Lem has done a nice job and he’s really the elder statesman in that group. We wanted to learn a lot about Drew because he changed from defense to offense from college. We loved his competitiveness and his toughness and we want to see how far he can take it. He seems to be handling himself really well in the competition.”
And from Jenks:
1, Cassius Marsh is (potentially) adding to his repertoire: Marsh already proved to be a versatile and flexible weapon for the Seahawks in his rookie season, sliding between defensive end and pass-rushing defensive tackle. But the Seahawks are always looking to add another layer to a player’s versatility, especially when that player isn’t a clear-cut starter. The Seahawks played Marsh at outside linebacker some on Thursday, a different look than we’ve seen from Marsh. Coach Pete Carroll said Marsh fits the mold cast by Bruce Irvin (the two are nearly identical in size) and said he is interested to see how Marsh handles the learning curve. “That’s just flexibility,” Carroll said. The ability to play Marsh at outside linebacker and defensive end just makes him more valuable to the Seahawks, and it also hedges the Seahawks bets if outside linebacker Bruce Irvin leaves after this season.
2, Eric Pinkins is “probably the most improved guy on the football field:” That’s coming from Pete Carroll. You might remember that Pinkins played safety in high school, but the Seahawks saw him as a possible cornerback when they drafted him in the sixth round in 2014. That didn’t last long as he struggled heavily, and the Seahawks decided to move him to outside linebacker after he added weight. What Pinkins’ improvement means for his future on this team as a linebacker isn’t clear. The Seahawks could use depth at linebacker, and Carroll said there aren’t many outside linebackers in the league who are as fast as Pinkins is. But he also said, “We’ll see what happens when we go to camp.” Pinkins can obviously play in space, but can he be physical enough to be a linebacker? Can he hold up against the run? Can he learn the drops into coverage that are so different than a defensive back?
3, Tarvaris Jackson is back right where he left off: Jackson signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks earlier this month and jumped right back into the fold on Thursday. Jackson has been Russell Wilson’s backup each of the last two seasons, and if you want to understand why a player who has played so little was considered an important addition, consider this: Jackson led the Seahawks’ offense on a practice-winning drive to end Thursday’s practice by throwing a touchdown pass. How many quarterbacks could come in right away and have such a good grasp and understanding of not just the offense, but the personnel around him?