Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2011 Seahawks Training Camp: August 2nd News & Notes

This is the second in a series of four training camp visits I will be making this year. I spent a fair bit of time chatting with Danny Kelly over at Field Gulls, so don't be surprised if we have overlapping notes.

Pictures:


STAND-OUT NEW FACES
Rookie S Josh Pinkard
Pinkard has largely been considered a CB, but is lining up at safety. He had a really nice series today where he broke to the sideline to break up a pass, rolled up on a slot receiver to play 1:1 and batted down that pass, before absolutely stunning WR Doug Chapman with a stiff-arm in press coverage. Pinkard is a favorite of Scott Enyeart, and appears to at least be pushing draft choice Mark LeGree for playing time.

SAM LB Mike Morgan
Morgan was a new one for me. I didn't notice him at all on Sunday. He looks bigger than the 226 lbs he is listed at, partially because he is 6'3". He caught my attention in position drills, and then showed up with some great plays behind the line against the run. It is hard to judge his tackling prowess until a real game, but he could be a surprise.

WR Doug Baldwin
Baldwin has to be the favorite to join the WR ranks after Mike Williams, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham. He was running opposite Williams with the first unit today. He doesn't drop the ball, and is a compelling athlete. Curious to see if it translates to the games.

TE Dominique Byrd
Byrd is a decent-sized tight end who can block, but has nice speed and good hands as a receiver. He picked a good day to stand out with the Zach Miller news. Byrd is definitely behind Anthony McCoy, Miller and Carlson, but could stick depending on what happens with Carlson and Cameron Morrah.

SIDELINED PLAYERS
Walter Thurmond, Roy Lewis, Colin Cole, Cameron Morrah, Deon Butler, Dexter Davis did not practice.

THINGS I NOW KNOW

  1. Rookie Mike Morgan is the 2nd string SAM behind Aaron Curry
  2. KJ Wright is only playing at back-up MIKE behind David Hawthorne. I expected him to get time at LEO behind Chris Clemons and possibly SAM, but I've only seen him at the one MIKE spot.
  3. The free safety will be rolling up on the slot receiver more often this season. I have seen Earl Thomas do it multiple times, and saw Josh Pinkard do it as well.
  4. Russell Okung is quietly having a solid camp. You don't hear his name because he's blocking his opponent right out of the play. 
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
The offense featured a number of two tight-end sets again today. I was not sure if that was just the part of the offense they were installing on Sunday when I was there, but seeing it again today makes me think this is part of the philosophy. If the team has serious tight end talent, which they now do, it has the potential to be a great run/pass set. It would not be a shock to see less fullback, and instead feature something like 2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB. Running backs like Leon Washington and Justin Forsett excel in 1-back formations, and are also great receivers. Tight ends were often split out wide.

Lots and lots of check-downs today. Some of that was because of good down-field coverage, but some of it was just limits of the QBs in camp. Charlie Whitehurst was much better today. He was decisive, and threw some terrific passes. He also forced a ball right into Kam Chancellor's hands in the red zone.

Golden Tate continues to have a nice camp. There are fewer highlight reel leaping grabs, but far more repeatable routes and catches that put him in position to use his athleticism to run after the catch. He is making some tough catches over the middle and taking the hits that go along with it. Something tells me he is going to have a striking pre-season once the lights go on.

Mike Williams returned to the field, and had more drops than catches. He looks to be in even better physical condition, and the drops are nothing to worry about. He is an enigma who will drop a pass between the numbers and catch a ball with one hand three-feet over his head. It was good to see him out there.

The offense, in general, had a better day. Running is an obvious focal point. There are far more running plays than last season. It is very hard to judge whether these plays are working because there is only light contact allowed. What is clear is how hard Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Justin Forsett are running. They have the potential to be far superior to what we witnessed last year. Part of that will be a chance for Lynch to get a pre-season in Seattle, part of that is Washington being healthier, and part of that is Cable/Bevell having a  a bleepin' clue how to install a running game (thank you very much, Jeremy Bates).

The tight ends were the best position group overall. Byrd, McCoy, and Carlson all had touchdowns and nice catches.

Kam Chancellor stood out as the starting strong safety. He snuck up on a well-timed blitz and stuck Washington in the back-field on one play, and then picked off a pass later on. Aaron Curry had some nice sticks against the run, but also still looked challenged in space. Lynch danced right around Curry at one point.

Wide receivers are a scrum. Durham has done nothing to distinguish himself from what I have seen. Domnique Edison looks the part, and has played well enough. Isaiah Stanbeck just doesn't seem like a wide-out to me. Ricardo Lockette is just a guy. A fast guy, but just a guy. Doug Baldwin stands out. Good routes, good hands, good speed. Chris Carter is not getting many snaps, and is almost never getting a look when he is in there. He runs nice routes and is often open, but is not as quick as Baldwin. I'd love to see him get the ball thrown his way a few times to see if he rises to the occasion.

The energy in camp remains noticeably greater than last year. Speed in the drills and between the drills is nearing a sprint. Players seem happy and focused. Youth is being served. Come Thursday, critical veterans will be added to the mix, including: Sidney Rice, Robert Gallery, Zach Miller, Michael Robinson, Alan Branch, Leroy Hill, Kelly Jennings and more. The players have a day off tomorrow, so Thursday will be one to behold. Hope to see you there. 

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