Here are three impressions from Seattle's OTA Tuesday from reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
Here are impressions from the Seahawks’ OTA on Tuesday from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First from Jenks:
1. It’s clear the Seahawks are thrilled with Tyler Lockett as the team’s starting punt and kick returner. Coach Pete Carroll even went as far as to say on the night the Seahawks drafted Lockett that Carroll expected Lockett to be the team’s starting returner this season. That doesn’t happen very often. And while there are many reasons why the Seahawks see Lockett as a unique return talent, special teams coach Brian Schneider added another interesting angle on what makes Lockett so interesting: “You want his feet under the ball so right when he catches it he can go right, left or middle,” Schneider said. “He’s just so sudden with his first movement that that’s what you look for in those returners. Those are the ones who can make the first guy miss consistently, and he definitely has that.”
2. At one point during Tuesday’s practice, I noticed the Seahawks were working with rookie defensive end Obum Gwacham on how to use his hands. Gwacham is one of the most interesting rookies to watch this year: He played receiver in college until his coaches at Oregon State moved him to defensive end, an unorthodox position change that paid off when the Seahawks drafted him in the sixth round this year. Gwacham is highly athletic but also extremely raw. That brings me back to the hand drills from Tuesday. They were pretty basic, but it reminded me of what Gwacham said when he talked about his weaknesses. “I’d saying it’s using my hands a little bit more, and that’s something I’ve been working on,” Gwacham said in April. “I have these long arms, and I don’t feel like I actually use them quite as much as I should. Like I said, learning from the vets, learning from guys that have done it in the past. They showed me that my arms are a weapon, and I can do damange with them.” If Gwacham is going to stick around, he will have to take advantage of his speed, of course, but he will also have to learn how to properly use his hands, his arms, and the hand combat that is so important to defensive linemen.
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3. Jimmy Graham provides another interesting dynamic to the in-practice battles between the offense and the defense. Last week, Graham made a handful of pretty ridiculous catches over defenders, and each time he jumped in the air and spiked the ball. The defense booed, mock charged him and confronted him. On Tuesday, Graham dropped a pass in front of Richard Sherman, and the defense let Graham have it, pretending to jump in the air and spike the ball and letting him hear about it. Sherman said Graham’s trash talking fit right in with the Seahawks, but it adds another highly chirpy and competitive personality to a group that already is close to capacity with highly chirpy and competitive personalities.
And from Condotta:
1. The Seahawks seem pretty excited about their overall prospects on special teams this season. Jayson mentioned the impact that Lockett is likely to make. Schneider, though, also noted that he thinks many of the other units could also be improved this season, mentioning specifically that the group “is probably the best that I have been a part of from top to bottom in terms of taking instruction and going on the field and going really fast and working with great effort.” Schneider also mentioned the overall speed the team has saying “when we were practicing inside last week I was blown away just how fast our team is and so that definitely transfers into special teams.” One interesting player Schneider mentioned today as being impressive so far on special teams is Frank Clark, the team’s first pick in the 2015 draft, mentioning “how long” Clark’s wingspan is. The maturation of some young players, who now can play faster now that they are more comfortable, also figures to be a key. A couple guys noteworthy today on the kickoff unit were Kevin Pierre-Louis and Kevin Norwood. Those were the kind of guys who had to learn on the job a little at times last season, such as when special teams stalwart Derrick Coleman was hurt at mid-season, who now will be better prepared. And goes without saying that the return of Coleman to full health will help, too.
2. Could Drew Nowak really get into the race at center? Nowak, who played in two games for Jacksonville in 2013 at guard and spent last season on Seattle’s practice squad, spent much of Tuesday working with the first unit at center. He provides a unique look, centering with his left hand (which is simply his dominant hand). The center spot remains pretty wide open and Nowak was probably just getting his shot with the first unit to see how he looks. But that he got that shot at all says something. OL coach Tom Cable afterward said of Nowak that: “I think the fact that he has been here the whole year so he has gotten trained and now we are starting to see an offensive lineman develop and he’s just kind of earned the right to go in there now and be part of that competition.’’ Of the center spot as a whole, Cable said: “I think it’s probably got the most competition to it. Drew is doing a nice job. (Kristjan) Sokoli is doing a nice job and Lem (Lemuel Jeanpierre) and Patrick (lewis) are competing their rear ends off so when we get to camp it should really be quite a battle. But it certainly has the most uncertainty.’’ Cable, though, said he anticipates the competition sorting itself out fairly quickly once training camp begins.
3. Anthony McCoy could make the backup tight end spot that much more intriguing. There’s no debating who will be Seattle’s No. 1 tight end this season (Jimmy Graham). And it also appears that Luke Willson will retain a major role in the offense. But after that looms a pretty intense competition for the third spot among McCoy, Cooper Helfet and RaShaun Allen. Helfet had one of the better days today, catching two touchdowns during a red zone period. Allen remains a physically imposing player who went from being a tryout player at the rookie mini-camp to actually playing in a game against the Rams. Then there’s McCoy, who made 31 catches combined in the 2011-12 seasons before missing the last two years with two separate Achilles injuries. McCoy, though, seems well on the road to recovery, getting the most action I have seen in today’s OTA, including making a catch during a team session. Could be some tough decisions to make at that spot, though that has become the Seahawk way.