Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Seahawks Training Camp: August 8th News & Notes

Created by reader Sean Lewandowski

The Seahawks held their tenth training camp practice today. This one, was not like the others.

OFF THE CUFF
The circus has come to Seattle
Shelley Smith, Curt Menafee, and Michele Beisner were there. Mack Strong made an appearance. The Wednesday crowd rivaled a weekend turnout, and was rowdier than any other practice so far. Fans were holding signs for Terrell Owens. They cheered when he exited the locker room 15 minutes after practice started. They cheered when he made his first catch. They cheered when Brandon Browner slammed him to the ground during 1v1 drills.

The typical wind-down after practice involves a few select people coming to a podium for Q&A with the press. There are maybe 10-15 people crowding around asking questions and listening to the answers. Today, there were four or five interviews going on at any one time with crowds of reporters around each player or coach. The main podium had at least ten video cameras setup and a few dozen media members, VIPs and hangers-on jockeying for position, waiting for Owens to answer questions.

It was telling that Owens was the first person to the podium. Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards may not have even made a podium appearance on their first day of practice. Pete Carroll is often one of the first people to speak. Not today. Owens completed his appearance and 75% of the crowd dispersed. Matt Flynn came to the podium fifteen minutes later, and answered questions from the local media. Somebody that showed up at that moment would not have been able to tell anything was different today. Owens is a gravitational force with all sorts of people and baggage that orbits him wherever he goes. This will calm down in the next few days, but anyone who was clinging to the idea that signing Owens was no different than Edwards or Bryant or Mike Williams should re-evaluate. Owens is a bigger story than the Seahawks. He could have deflected the attention by not speaking to the media, or insisting that his teammates were interviewed before him. He did nothing like that. That does not mean he is certain to be a problem. These are simply facts to keep in mind as this plays out.

UPDATE: Curtis Crabtree sent me some additional information I wanted to provide for thoroughness. "Edwards spoke at podium, Bryant did not. Pete didn't talk today. Nothing really unusual except amount of media there. Not really an order to podium talks. Just kind of happen when guys can. Flynn was lifting for instance, another reason he went after Terrell today."

Matt Flynn starts starting
Flynn celebrated his elevation to #1 on the depth chart by completing 18-23 passes through 7v7 and team drills. At least six of those completions were 20+ yards down-field. Hugh Millen said on KJR that Tarvaris Jackson may never have had a practice all last year that matched what Flynn did today. He may be right. It was arguably not even his best practice. Regardless, he made a number of impressive throws and moved well. His best throw of the day was not his flashiest. Zach Miller slipped the seam and Flynn threaded a ball between two defenders to a diving Miller 20-25 yards down-field. People continue to hear questions about Flynn's arm strength and assume he can't throw deep. That's simply not the case. He throws a nice deep ball near either sideline. The bigger question remains whether he can make the intermediate throws between defenders or red zone throws that require more zip in tighter windows. The throw to Miller today was a great example of demonstrating that ability. Flynn mentioned after practice that he finally felt like he was able to start getting in a rhythm after getting extra snaps. That throw could have been the result of getting that touch.

There were two other throws most people will be talking about. The first had Flynn rolling out to his right looking for an open receiver, only to find everyone covered. Golden Tate was running along the left sideline and had a step or more on his defender. Flynn caught a glimpse of Tate and threw the ball 45 yards down field and all the way across the field to Tate in stride. The throw was not pretty. It was a wobbler, but it was a great improvisational play. The second throw was deep down the right sideline to a streaking Terrell Owens, who had beaten Jeremy Lane (thanks to reader Adam Wright for confirming this). Owens made a diving, bobbling, catch that the crowd loved.

Reps broke out 30-19-17-10 for Flynn, Russell Wilson, Jackson, Josh Portis. Portis gained more reps than Wilson. He had not had more than four snaps in any previous practice. More on all the quarterbacks later...

Owens looks like he could stick
Millen said on the radio that if he did not know any of the background or context and had been dropped into Seahawks practice for the first time today, he would have assumed Owens was a starting receiver for the team. I had the exact same thought. He obviously looks the part, but watching him cut, stop, start, and catch balls made it clear his body has not broken down yet. Owens does not need to be the quickest receiver in the world to make an impact at 6'3". It is worth noting that he played opposite of Edwards in a number of drills. Most of the talk was that Owens had been brought in as a split end, where Sidney Rice occupies the flanker position. It has been assumed that Edwards and Owens are competing for one roster spot. That is probably still the case, but it is not safe to assume it anymore.

Edwards did not shine today. In fact, only Tate had a strong day outside of Owens. None of my concerns  about Owens have waned, but I will continue to evaluate his football contributions as objectively as possible. He looks like an upgrade after one day of practice. Take that for what it is worth.

STAND-OUT NEW FACES
TE Sean McGrath
McGrath is among the favorite targets in camp. He made another few catches today.

WR Charly Martin
Martin will not make this team, but he has played well throughout camp. He runs nice routes and has reliable hands. He had a couple great catches today.

SIDELINED PLAYERS
Jameson Konz, Walter Thurmond, Doug Baldwin (went through some drills today), Matt McCoy, Winslow had his normal rest day, Allen Bradford, Alan Branch, Ricardo Lockette

THINGS I NOW KNOW
  1. Anthony McCoy appears to be above Cameron Morrah on the depth chart since McCoy returned after a week off due to injury, and was running opposite Miller with the starters. 
  2. The Titans game is going to be huge for the receivers. Owens, Rice and Baldwin will not play. Lockette likely will not play. That means Edwards, Obomanu, Deon Butler, Phil Bates and Charly Martin will get unusually high reps. The tight ends will also get a lot of looks. With Baldwin, Rice and Lockette likely back next week, the time is now for these bubble guys.
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
Wilson did not back down today. I only had him for one incompletion in team drills and 7v7. Jackson matched him with only one incompletion. Even Portis played well in his longest stint so far. Portis got ten straight snaps, his only during practice, and completed all five of his passes. I don't want to incite a Portis party, but he did play well. Many of Wilson's and Jackson's throws were dump-offs or short routes. Flynn continues to look more adept at making plays further down the field.

The tight end group is solid. It is just a hunch, but don't be surprised if Miller steps up big time with Flynn in there. They are showing some nice chemistry. Morrah has arguably had one of the most productive camps on the team, and McCoy is the second-best blocking/receiving combo tight end on the roster. That is without even mentioning Kellen Winslow Jr. Beyond that, Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet have looked strong. The game plan on Saturday could feature a lot of tight ends.

4 comments :

sportsviking said...

Glad to hear that Flynn is getting the majority of the reps and is stepping up to the challenge. Thanks for your detailed reports!

broadbill birdwatcher said...

The circus has come to town, indeed.

I think we should not have signed Owens, but no one asked me.

Even without a dramatic flare up, the chemistry of this team could be fragmented by the vortex that is Terrill Owens.

Daddy Love said...

Flynn's connecting (psychologically) with Miller and Tate.

Anonymous said...

Is McGrath a joker-type TE only or can he block too?

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