Here are our daily impressions from Seahawks' training camp Tuesday with items on Cliff Avril, Jermaine Kearse, Kasen Williams and more.
Here are our daily impressions from Seahawks’ training camp from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First, from Jenks:
1, Defensive end Cliff Avril rushed standing up like a linebacker for a few snaps. Avril plays the LEO position for the Seahawks, the spot where coach Pete Carroll wants to put his best pass rusher off the edge. Typically that means Avril is down in a stance like the rest of the defensive line. But Avril stood up and crouched like a blitzing linebacker for some of Tuesday’s practice, which is also something he has done during games. Avril said he just wanted to give Seattle’s offensive line a different look. The battle between offensive and defensive lines is so physical, but it also a mental war on each snap, which is why Avril likes to change it up every so often. “It’s a mind game,” Avril said. “At this point in your career, everything is a mind game. Everything is trying to mess with their mindset and how they think you’re going to do things. It’s just a good change up.”
2, Tight end Anthony McCoy made a couple of great, tough diving catches. First, the context: McCoy had two bad drops in Friday’s preseason game. He was open both times and both hit him in the hands. McCoy had problems with drops earlier in his career and has missed the last two seasons because of injuries. But McCoy made one catch in particular during Tuesday’s practice that stood out: It was a throw down the seam, where tight ends usually operate, and McCoy dove, extended and hauled the pass in while falling to the ground. It was an acrobatic and tough catch. That’s flashy, but McCoy also needs to show that he can make the routine plays consistently. The battle for the third tight end spot on the roster is open. McCoy is competing with RaShaun Allen and Cooper Helfet, and the Seahawks are familiar with all three of them from previous seasons.
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3, Jermaine Kearse and the art of the back-shoulder fade. I wrote about the back-shoulder fade and how difficult it is recently. But I wrote about it from the perspective of the quarterback and how Russell Wilson has gotten better at that throw. What I didn’t get into is the same precision the throw demands from receivers. Example A: Kearse ran straight down the sideline, and Wilson’s throw was purposefully thrown behind him so Kearse had to stop and turn toward the ball. That’s the art of the back-shoulder fade. Kearse did that, but as he stopped and pivoted back to the ball, he extended his hands and gave veteran corner Cary Williams a little shove. Kearse was flagged and disagreed with the call, but Carroll talked to him and showed him that he did, indeed, extend his arms toward Williams, even if he didn’t fully shove him. It’s part of what makes those back-shoulder throws to tricky and so interesting to watch. So many small things have to go right in a matter of seconds for that play to work.
And from Condotta:
1, After the changes on the offensive line Monday, everything was status quo today. The Seahawks had the same lineups on the offensive line throughout practice today as they did on Monday, meaning Justin Britt now at left guard and Garry Gilliam at right tackle with the starting unit, along with center Drew Nowak, left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy. And that almost certainly means that’s the starting OL unit you will see Friday night at Kansas City. The Seahawks will want to give that group the week to work together and get comfortable with each other and then see how they transfer that onto the field in a game when they might also get a few more series than the two that the starters got last week. OL coach Tom Cable also made an interesting point after practice on Monday, that the Seahawks went into the Denver game with a plan focused on throwing. “You pick your games when you are going to do that,” he said. That might mean this week the game plan would look a little different and might put the OL in a more favorable position. Cable also said that the team would like to settle on a grouping sooner rather than later. If the five together this week does well at Kansas City, maybe the Seahawks then make the call next week. “We think we are really close,” Cable said. “So what does that mean? This week? Middle of next week? Somewhere in there.”
2, The Kansas City game could be really pivotal for Kasen Williams. Williams was one of the stars of camp a week ago, appearing to emerge as a player with a legit shot to make the final 53-man roster. But he was quiet in the game against Denver, with just one target and no receptions in 28 snaps. A lot of factors went into that, of course, including the injury to Tarvaris Jackson and the pass protection issues. Coaches, though, talk often of consistency of production separating those who make it from those who don’t. Williams has leveled off a little since the standout play last week — he let a ball go through his hands down the sidelines in practice today. The starters generally play into the third quarter of the third preseason game, after which the team will have to make an initial cut, which means Williams — and others like him scratching for a roster spot — will have a little more of an urgency to state a case this week against the Chiefs. Right now, Kevin Smith, B.J. Daniels and Kevin Norwood are likely all in a better position right now than Williams for the final roster spot or two at receiver. But that can change quickly.
3, Ronald Martin is definitely getting his chance at free safety this week. The big story Tuesday was the return of Earl Thomas to at least limited on-field participation in practice. That bodes well for Thomas to be available for week one against the Rams, assuming no setbacks along the way. The matter of who is backup will be, though, seems a little more muddled. Undrafted free agent Ronald Martin Jr. again got a lot of work as the starting free safety in team sessions Tuesday,working ahead of Steven Terrell, who got the start against Denver. Martin has intriguing size at 6-1, 217 (compared to the 5-10,, 197 of Terrell) and has impressed coaches with his playmaking ability. He’s also taken advantage of the continued absence of seventh-round pick Ryan Murphy of Oregon State, who hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury the first week of camp. Martin working with the ones the last two days indicates he has a good chance of starting Friday at Kansas City and stating a further case for himself. “He’s just looked really comfortable in the position he’s been in,” Carroll said of Martin on Monday. “He’s very much at ease, he’s a terrific athlete. He’s got really good all-around athleticism, good feel for the ball. He had a pick during practice that was just like the one that got away from him in the game. An overthrow like that and unfortunately he didn’t get it. He looks the part back there. He had a couple nice plays on the perimeters and tackles. I’ve been real pleased with what he’s shown so far and we’re going to give him a shot.” Dion Bailey continues to work ahead of DeShawn Shead at strong safety.