Russell Wilson was sharp again, Thomas Rawls returned to 2015 form and the offensive line continued to shuffle.
Here is what we learned from Seahawks practice on Wednesday from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First from Jenks:
1. Russell Wilson continues to look really good
Yes, rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin picked off one of Wilson’s passes along the sideline. But even still, Wilson just keeps making plays.
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“He’s just feeling the guys he’s working with really well,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s been really hot.”
Carroll said the Seahawks are trying to put Wilson in difficult and stressful situations, in regards to time management or down and distance, and most of the time, at least it seems watching practice, Wilson has delivered.
Wilson was good in the mock game on Monday, and he was probably even better on Sunday, so that’s three or four straight practices in which he’s been really good.
2. Pete Carroll thinks Thomas Rawls is back to his old form
Last year was a struggle for Rawls right from the get go. After working so hard to rehab from a leg injury, Rawls returned to play a limited role in the team’s first game before injuring his leg in the second game of the season.
Rawls eventually bounced back, but the season was always a struggle.
“He looks great,” Carroll said. “He really is back to the form we saw a couple years ago. We’re excited about that.”
A healthy Rawls is a game-changer, even with veteran Eddie Lacy and younger backs like C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson in the mix.
As a rookie, Rawls was electric and a perfect fit for the cutting zone-blocking scheme the Seahawks use. He was tough and eager for contact, but also capable of the explosive play.
Rawls looks good in training camp so far, but we won’t know more until the Seahawks start playing preseason games.
3. One name to watch with Malik McDowell out: Quinton Jefferson
Jefferson, a fifth-round pick in 2016, is entering his second season, but we don’t know much about him yet because he missed most of the season with a knee injury.
Jefferson isn’t as explosive and doesn’t have as much potential as McDowell, but he at least offers similar measurements: McDowell is 6-6 and 299 pounds; Jefferson is 6-4 and 291 pounds.
Carroll likes McDowell’s versatility (He can play inside at tackle or outside as a run-stuffing end). But even Carroll isn’t exactly sure how Jefferson fits in, especially because Jefferson is just working back in to team drills at practice.
“Honestly, I’m not sure where he’s going to be best with this group and the mix that we have,” Carroll said. “We’ll find that out in time. We would like to see him play five-technique for us if he could. That would help us out.”
And from Condotta:
1. The offensive line shuffle continued with Ethan Pocic getting work at center and Jordan Roos getting praise from Carroll
The second full week of training camp has often been a time the Seahawks begin experimenting a bit more with the offensive line. So it was Wednesday as Ethan Pocic got his first significant work in team drills at center. Carroll said he thought Pocic did well able to quickly adjust after playing mostly right tackle so far. Pocic had been working at right tackle with the first unit with Germain Ifedi out. But Ifedi was back and back with the first team today.
If Pocic shows he can play center well that could give the Seahawks more options in terms of the construction of the roster — basically, it might be bad news for Joey Hunt who has been working as the backup center but doesn’t play any other spot on the line. Pocic could emerge with a role as the backup everywhere along the line.
As for Roos, he got some significant work with the number one offense at left guard and then later earned praise from Carroll who said “I just think he is going to play for us here for a good while. He’s going to compete and be a tough guy. Really fired up about him.’’
Pocic being able to be the backup center could further help open up a roster spot for Roos (meaning, if the team doesn’t need Hunt it’s easier to see a way for Roos on the roster).
Carroll emphasized that the team will continue to move guys around and also rotate players between first and second units so they all get comfortable with each other. But some impressions are also obviously being made.
2. Jermaine Kearse doesn’t appear to be going anywhere
Kearse’s contract — he has a dead salary cap number this year of $3.6 million — has all along all but assured he would be on the roster this season (the team would only save about $400,000 by releasing him). Still, it’s been a pretty popular topic of discussion whether he might be in danger of making the roster after the Seahawks drafted two receivers and also have the likes of Kenny Lawler and Kasen Williams still in tow.
Kearse, though, has had a nice start to camp including a 20-yard touchdown grab from Russell Wilson in Monday’s mock game, a play in which he had to do some body contorting to bring in a ball that was a little off target.
Carroll said Wednesday Kearse has responded to the challenge of the off-season additions, which came after a disappointing year on the field.
“He’s been on it,’’ Carroll said. “He’s competing. He knows we’ve picked up a couple of guys coming in and he knows he’s got to compete and he’s doing a great job.’’ Carroll then mentioned Kearse’s special teams ability and then something else that continues to set him apart — that “there’s great chemistry there’’ between Kearse and Wilson.
Paul Richardson has appeared to be ahead of Kearse in the base offense with Kearse entering in three-receiver sets, with Tyler Lockett still making his way back — Lockett took part in team drills today for the first time. But whatever the specific role, as of now there appears little doubt Kearse will remain with a significant one this season.
3. Fullback’s not just a one-man show
The news Tuesday that the Seahawks had waived Kyle Coleman might have left the impression that Marcel Reece is assured of the fullback job — Reece is the only listed fullback left on the roster.
But the Seahawks have also been using Tre Madden at fullback since last season and Madden — a second-year player from USC — may be a bigger factor than realized based on what Carroll said about him after practice today.
“He’s right in it,’’ Carroll said. “He’s been leading the spot the whole time, been there the whole off-season. He knows what’s going on in all phases.’’ Carroll also said Madden is on his way to becoming a “core special teams guy’’ – meaning, he can play on any of the special teams — which could further add to his value. “Anxious to see how that (competition) plays out,’’ Carroll said.
4. And a few more random notes:
— The Seahawks on Wednesday re-signed safety Jordan Simone and signed defensive tackle Greg Milhouse to fill the two openings on the roster created Tuesday. Simone had been with the team since May before being waived Sunday. Milhouse went undrafted out of Campbell University in North Carolina in 2016 and spent training camp with the New York Giants in 2016 and also has been with Saskatchewan in the CFL.
— Carroll said McDowell returned home because for now he can’t work out in any significant manner so the team felt he was better off recovering there. Carroll said there is a “routine’’ in place for him to follow while he is away from the team and that doctors will continue to assess him and he will return to Seattle when he can work out in a more significant manner.
— As noted, Lockett got his most significant work with the first team.
— As Jayson noted, what might have been the play of the day came from Griffin who stepped in front of a Wilson pass to Kearse — a rare bad toss by Wilson in the last few days — and returned it for a pick six. Griffin had to turn his body to adjust to the ball and then quickly spun and headed upfield to the end zone. With Jeremy Lane again out Griffin continued to run with the first team at right cornerback with DeAndre Elliott working as the nickel. Neiko Thorpe again worked primarily with the second unit at left cornerback behind Richard Sherman with Pierre Desire working as the backup at right cornerback.
— Michael Wilhoite appears to continue to work with the starting unit at strongside linebacker.
— Jayson noted how Rawls appears back to his 2015 form. He has run consistently with the number one offense with Eddie Lacy today working consistently with the backups. But that shouldn’t be read as Rawls is going to get all the carries. Carroll after practice again praised Lacy saying he has picked up the offense well and that he “I have no problem. He’s going to be fine. He’s a load just like we thought — you can see him bouncing off guys.’’
— Kasen Williams and Jarran Reed were among players who sat out the mock game who were back today. There did not appear to be any new injuries on Wednesday.
—Also still out where the likes of LB D.J. Alexander, S Delano Hill, RB Mike Davis and LB Ronald Powell.
— Also saw Rees Odhiambo getting as much work at left tackle today as any time during camp with the second unit.