If you live in the area and haven’t already gone out to see a Seahawks training camp practice in the Renton facility, you really need to do it. The cost is $5 (for transportation), and you certainly get your money’s worth. It’s a great place to watch the team, and see behind the curtains of an NFL franchise.
I had the good fortune to see Russell Okung’s first official practice as a Seahawk. I didn’t see him out on the field until later in the afternoon, but I saw enough to be able to tell you he did not appear overwhelmed or overmatched. He’s a physical specimen that won’t be pushed around. I’d expect him to excel in run blocking right out of the gate, and we’ll just have to see about pass blocking. He looks more like a mauler than a quick-footed blocker. We’ll learn a lot after he faces elite pass rushers.
The surprise of the afternoon for me was Deion Branch. Not only did he make the most plays of any receiver in practice, but he made the plays by running crisp routes and having clear chemistry with Hasselbeck. The timing of a couple of throw and catches was remarkable. Contrast that to Houshmandzadeh, who may have gone without a catch the whole practice. Other receivers that stood out included Deon Butler, who got behind the defense multiple times, and Mike Williams who looks fit and flashed solid hands catching the ball against coverage. Golden Tate had a bad practice, dropping at least one touchdown and not showing up in general.
Hasselbeck is as advertised. He looks much more confident making his reads and delivering the ball in this offense. His completion percentage had to be 85-90% on the day, including at least one drop of a perfectly thrown ball to Anthony McCoy in-between two defenders. No other quarterback looked close. If Pete Carroll wanted to push Matt with competition, he hasn’t done it yet. Whitehurst seemed more journeyman than future star, and the crowd was noticeably anti-Whitehurst. I heard multiple calls for JP Losman. Losman got a few snaps, and was sharp with what he did, although they were all simple short crossing patterns. If I’m the Seahawks coaching staff, I keep Losman off the field for much of training camp and the pre-season to avoid having to answer LOTS of questions about Whitehurst.
This tight end group is going to be a tight race. We all know about Carlson, and may have read about new draft pick McCoy. Chris Baker from the Jets got at least some publicity. The guy, though, that is flying below the radar is last year’s 7th round draft pick, Cameron Morrah. He stood out a few times streaking down the field and making some nice catches. I don’t know that I see us keeping four tight ends, but we may get away with stashing Morrah on the practice squad if we’re lucky.
It started as a special teams practice, with punt coverage drills. Tate, Forsett, and Walter Thurmond took turns returning kicks. Each of them looked extremely comfortable and confident fielding the booming kicks from Jon Ryan. There were some massive blasts off of Ryan’s leg.
Defensively, there were a lot of big names missing. Lofa, Curry, Kevin Vickerson, and Kam Chancellor watched practice. New DE Chris Clemons was bigger than I expected. I may just be hopeful, but I have a good feeling about the impact he’s going to have on the pass rush. Red Bryant is a load! There are a lot of big men out there, but he makes everyone look small. Marcus Trufant got beat a few times, but finished strong with two great interceptions. There were no signs of him being washed up. Jamar Adams, though, stood out with some jarring hits and good coverage. He showed up on a number of plays, and could be our starting safety next to Earl Thomas as some point.