Here are observations from Thursday’s Seahawks’ practice from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First, three from Jenks:
1, The strongside linebacker position will be one to watch. Right now, the battle to replace Bruce Irvin at strongside (or SAM) linebacker is a three-headed competition, and all three guys involved bring something different. Mike Morgan is the most experienced of the group and the only one of three to have played the position in a game. He knows exactly what the Seahawks want. Cassius Marsh is a converted defensive end (similar to Irvin a few years ago) and is probably the most comfortable at the line of scrimmage. And Eric Pinkins, a converted defensive back, is probably the smoothest dropping in coverage. All three have worked with the first-team defense, and the competition still seems pretty wide open.
2, A blown coverage and a subtle value of Earl Thomas, in one play. The first-team defense had some miscommunication on Thursday and a receiver got free for a wide open catch deep. Not sure exactly what happened (it’s still training camp) but those type of mistakes have been rare so far. What was more interesting, to me at least, was the way safety Earl Thomas flew from his post deep in the middle of the field and kept the receiver from reaching the end zone. He corralled him along the sideline around the 5-yard line and pushed him out. It’s one part of Thomas’ job that he takes great pride in and coach Pete Carroll greatly values. He keeps plays from ending up in the end zone, and even with a huge gain like that, who knows what could happen? Maybe the defense forces a field goal or a turnover. His teammates have called him a fire extinguisher for the flames he puts out, and that’s one reason why.
3, Guest observation from linebacker Bobby Wagner about undrafted rookie linebacker Kyle Coleman. Yes, I’m cheating a bit, but Wagner was asked about Longa (from Rutgers) and Coleman (from Arkansas Pine-Bluff) and had an interesting answer: “Coleman is the one who has impressed me the most. He’s getting out there making plays. Every time we step out here, he seems like he always has his hands on the ball. He’s always in the backfield. I’m really excited to see how he does the first preseason game.”
And here are three observations from Condotta:
1, Get ready to see a lot of new faces at receiver Saturday. With Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith and Deshon Foxx all nursing hamstring injuries and presumed out for the Kansas City game, you’re going to see some different names play the final two or three quarters at receiver for the Seahawks Saturday. The second grouping will likely include rookie Kenny Lawler and Douglas McNeil, who are each making runs at the final roster spot or two at receiver. But after that, a lot of playing time could go to some guys who just joined the team such as Montario Hunter and E.Z. Nwachukwu. Hunter, a rookie from Elizabeth City State, has impressed with his speed — he was said to have run under 4.4 in his workout with the Seahawks before the team signed him and he had a long catch of a Russell Wilson pass in Saturday’s scrimmage. Also expect the Seahawks to give a long look to 6-6, 230-pound Tanner McEvoy, who also played quarterback and safety at Wisconsin. While his size is what has drawn initial attention McEvoy has also seemed increasingly comfortable in the offense.
2, The backup tackle spots are worth paying attention to. As I wrote earlier, it looks like J’Marcus Webb won’t play against the Chiefs with the Seahawks appearing to prepare a starting offensive line for Saturday with Garry Gilliam at right tackle and Bradley Sowell on the left side. The backups for now appear to be Terry Poole on the right side and George Fant on the left, with Rees Odhiambo also working at right tackle with the third team on Thursday, something he has done more of lately. Poole is an interesting one to watch as he has transformed his body and after being hurt most of last season, hasn’t missed a day in either the off-season program or training camp. It’s hard to see exactly where Poole fits into things at the moment in terms of making the 53-man roster, but he could open some eyes in preseason games, especially with there suddenly being some uncertainty about the starting spots and roles.
3, Tyvis Powell appears to be getting more of a look at cornerback. An undrafted rookie free agent from Ohio State, Powell is listed as a strong safety and has mostly played safety during camp, at times appearing to get some work as a nickel. But Thursday he got what appeared to me to be the most work I’ve seen as a boundary cornerback, some with the second-team defense. I wouldn’t read that as that he has moved up to the second team at cornerback but that the team is prepping him to get some significant work at cornerback against the Chiefs. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard said earlier in camp that “the thing about Tyvis is that he’s also going to be able to play corner for us. That’s where he’s going to create a little bit more value for himself.” At 6-3, 211, Powell has almost the same dimensions as DeShawn Shead (who is 6-2, 212) and the Seahawks could be looking at developing a younger version of Shead, who has played both corner and safety extensively.