Lots of observations from Seahawks training camp from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
Here are observations from Seahawks’ training camp Sunday from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First, from Jenks:
1, George Fant’s offseason impressed Pete Carroll.
Carroll was asked broadly about which players impressed him the most physically, and he immediately named Fant, the Seahawks’ second-year offensive tackle.
Fant is listed on roster as weighing 319 pounds, which means he gained about 20 pounds in the offseason (He weighed 296 pounds on last year’s roster).
“Nobody has done more than George Fant,” Carroll said. “George just had a fantastic spring and offseason. I think he weighed in at 319. Fantastically fit and strong.”
Fant looked noticeably bigger, which is good because it was clear last season that he needed to be better equipped to handle NFL defensive linemen.
We won’t know how Fant’s weight gain translates to the field, but it’s a good start.
2, Position group I’m most looking forward to watching: running backs.
What’s clear right now: The Seahawks have plenty of options at running back. Between Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic and Chris Carson, the Seahawks have backs with experience, backs with different skill sets and back with different roles. So that’s something.
What’s now clear right now: How that will shake out in terms of playing time and carries.
The best guess is that the Seahawks at least start the season with a platoon, trying to find situations and roles for those backs with different skills. Lacy and Rawls form an interesting contrast on paper, with Rawls being shiftier and Lacy being bigger. And we started to see Prosise’s versatility last season as a route runner and pass catcher.
But that’s what makes the position so interesting: The Seahawks have a lot of options to sort through.
3, Russell Wilson still throws a great deep ball.
Really, I’m talking about one throw Wilson made. He lofted a deep pass down the middle of the field to Doug Baldwin, who was jostling for position with Richard Sherman as they ran down the field. Wilson dropped the ball just over Sherman, and Baldwin hauled it in, I believe, with one hand.
There were no pads and no contact during practice so it’s hard to judge much of anything, and this isn’t exactly a revelatory observation, but Wilson still does throw a deep ball with great touch.
And here are three impressions from Condotta:
1, Position group I’m most excited to watch — linebackers.
There’s no intrigue here about two positions – middle linebacker and weakside linebacker — where Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright return to form one of the best duos in the NFL for the sixth straight season. But the rest of the linebacking corps has undergone massive reconstruction in the offseason, which continued in the last few days with the trade to Kansas City of Kevin Pierre-Louis for D.J. Alexander and the signing of free agent Marcus Smith.
Smith is listed as a defensive end but he worked out with the linebackers during individual drills and Carroll said after practice that he will start out being looked at as a strong side linebacker and nickel pass rusher — or basically the role Bruce Irvin played at the end of his Seattle career. Smith several times lined up on a tight end and dropped into coverage and if he shows he can do that consistently well he could be a factor in what is a wide open race for a spot where there is no returning starter from last season with the team not re-signing veteran Mike Morgan.
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However, the usual strongside linebacker with the No. 1 defense Sunday was Terence Garvin, signed in the offseason as a free agent. Garvin is one of five new linebackers of 10 on the roster with the Seahawks deciding they needed to upgrade both their overall depth at the spot as well as special teams.
“Terence Garvin made really big first impressions,’’ Carroll said. “ He had a great spring offseason. I’m really fired up to see what he can do here in camp. He has versatility that he can play will and nickel, he is a very good special team’s player and he is going to try and fight for the starting spot.’’
Veteran Michael Wilhoite ran with the second team Sunday but Carroll raved about him, too. “Michael is battling too and Michael’s got a lot of versatility and Michael’s played at will and sam and he is a very well depth special teams player so those are two really good guys just to add in there. Arthur Brown (playing mostly middle linebacker) has a chance to be in that mix as well. Dewey McDonald is part of that group at linebacker and safety. It is really nice and exciting versatility to have. All of those guys are good on teams and to add with the guys we already have.”
Carroll said Alexander, who was given Pierre-Louis’ former number of 58, will also slide into the weakside linebacker spot competing for a backup role behind Wright.
The team figures to keep only six or seven linebackers so it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
2, The fullback spot also suddenly has a new look.
The re-signing of Marcel Reece over the weekend makes the 32-year-old the favorite to win the fullback spot. But Carroll confirmed something Sunday that had seemed obvious during the off-season program, as well — Tre Madden is basically now a fullback despite being listed as a tailback.
That gives the Seahawks three fullbacks competing for likely one roster spot — Reece, Madden and Kyle Coleman.
Carroll said Reece’s experience and versatility is “why we brought him back. …
He knows the system. He is a fantastic team member. As young as we are at the fullback spot, I thought it would be a really nice mix to have those guys compete and see how it turns out. Marcel did a very nice job for us last season when he came in. Immediately, you can feel his experience which we like, but we will see how it goes and he will battle. He came back in really good shape. He looks great and we will see how it plays out. I am excited about Tre Madden, Kyle Coleman, both of those guys are guys that we have seen a lot of stuff from in the offseason but Marcel’s experience and versatility is a great asset. There will be some special teams issue with that spot, so we will let it play out and it will take us a while to make that choice.’’
3, Here are a few other random notes:
- The offensive line featured a number of different combinations, which is to be expected this early in camp and given the new faces and old faces in new places. But nothing really seemed a surprise. As Jayson noted, Carroll raved about Fant and he was consistently at left tackle, with Germain Ifedi at right tackle and Justin Britt at center. Mark Glowinski and Oday Aboushi worked consistently at right guard with Luke Joeckel, Rees Odhiambo and Jordan Roos at left guard — Joeckel also got some reps at left tackle. Second-round pick Ethan Pocic worked mostly at right tackle. Joey Hunt and Will Pericak also handled some center, and Robert Myers also played some left tackle.
- Some had speculated Joeckel might have to start out on the PUP list after suffering an ACL injury last October. But he was cleared to practice and took part in most drills Sunday. Said Carroll: “Luke went and we gave him a little bit of a break at the end of practice just to assess as we were going, but he looks like he is in great shape. We were very fortunate with Luke in the offseason, the way we adapted practice really helped him work throughout. He came out here really knowing his stuff. He is right in position to be a starter for us. We will see how that works out. We think he could start at guard or tackle. That is a great asset for us. He’s got experience, he’s been around. He is a heck of a football player and he is excited about being back and he is pumped up to add to this football team.”
- Jeremy Lane worked as the starter at right cornerback in the base defense and then as expected moved inside to play the nickel in pass situations with Neiko Thorpe then coming in and playing right cornerback. Basically, that means Lane is the starting nickel but also the starter at RCB in the base with Thorpe the third cornerback. Shaquill Griffin worked as the right cornerback with the second unit. DeAndre Elliott appeared to get much of the work at nickel with the second unit.
- Is there a reason to be concerned about Blair Walsh? It’s really early and the team said nothing but positive things about him in the spring, a confidence it appears to have made clear by having no other kicker on the roster. But Sunday he was just 2-4 during the team kicking session, missing from 34 and 44 yards, hitting from 29 and 39.
- Paul Richardson usually lined up as the other starting receiver in the base offense alongside Doug Baldwin. When the team went to three receivers then Jermaine Kearse went on. So yes, that would appear to indicate that Richardson has remained ahead of Kearse on the depth chart, though Tyler Lockett will likely into that role ahead of both players once he returns.
- With C.J. Prosise sick, the tailback rotation usually appeared to be Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and then Alex Collins. Lacy drew raves from Carroll for his condition. “He got his work done,’’ Carroll said. “ He looks good. I’m really happy that he made it through all of the work to get to this point and he is ready to go, so we take it one day at a time, but really good first impression coming back for our first camp with him.”
- The Seahawks switched things up a bit, beginning practice with a session of team drills (and without helmets). Practices typically begin with individual and position drills and then go into 11-on-11 drills later. Carroll said it was similar to how the team did things in the spring, when the Seahawks got a lot of work done in walk-throughs prior to practice. “Well these two practices are really just governed by the same rules as the OTA (Organized Team Activity), the phase three OTA, so really you saw what we were doing during OTA season. It was a switch in the way we have done things. It was really successful for us during the spring so we carried it over and did exactly the same format here.”