|The very first minute of the 2013 season|
OFF THE CUFF
Cue the angst
Expectations are unbridled around these parts for the Seattle Seahawks. It apparently does not take much adversity to cause people to start falling from those lofty heights. News of Percy Harvin’s yet-to-be-diagnosed hip injury caused quite the stir among fans. The concern is largely misplaced. Harvin is a fantastically talented and unique player that makes the Seahawks offense more difficult to defend, but this offense was good enough to win a Super Bowl last year without him. Yes, he makes a lot of money, but that has little impact on the field. People comparing this to the Michael Crabtree injury are off-base. Crabtree was Colin Kaepernick’s favorite receiver by a significant margin, and their best receiving threat outside. That team added Anquan Boldin, but he brings a far different skill set than Crabtree. We know how integral Crabtree was to that offense. Nobody know what Harvin is going to be asked to do.
Also, it is Day 1 of training camp. That maximizes the chances Harvin will be back and gives the team ample time to install an offense that does not rely on his skills. If this had come up right before week one, it would be a different story. There are far worse fates than having more reps go to Doug Baldwin, Luke Willson, Michael Robinson and others. Hopefully, this is a short layoff for him. If he is gone for the year (which there is little reason to worry about yet), there is little to reason lower expectations. I did my top five injury impact players for the Seahawks in 2013, and Harvin was not one of them.
Luke Willson could be a steal
Wilson, wearing #82, jumped out with his speed. He runs crisp routes as well. The team was just in shorts and shells today, which can be deceptive. Many players can look great in shorts, and then struggle when the pads come on. Willson needs to prove he can run block, and that he can play at that speed with more contact from defenders. Initial impressions are that he will pass at least the test as a receiver, and possibly with flying colors.
Jesse Williams. Whoa.
That is a big boy. He is built like an upside down pear. Huge and broad above the waist, narrow below. From the waist down, he almost looks like a linebacker. A high center of gravity like that brings some question about his pad level and leverage on the interior. Similar, although not as extreme, builds like Red Bryant ended up better on the edge. This guy with full pads on will take up a lot of room. Carroll said the team may take a rotation approach at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot similar to the QB position last year. Tony McDaniel got first crack at it today. We will see if Williams runs with the first unit tomorrow.
Passing game not there yet
Chalk it up to the first day of camp, but the passing game was not great. A year ago, all three quarterbacks looked so bad that I was not sure any of them were ready to start. That changed within a few days. If we are still talking about poor results by this time next week, it could be more worthy of analysis. [UPDATE] The team was clearly working on back-shoulder throws. This is the type of play that can come in a quarterbacks second season when there is more time to work on refinement instead of just standard play install. It can be an important weapon if the team can execute it reliably.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES
Earl Thomas and Bruce Irvin have cut their dreads. Lotulelei could add some long locks back to the roster. He looked confident and instinctive in his first camp practice. He appeared to be getting time at back-up WILL behind K.J. Wright. One play got my attention, in particular, where a back released wide, and Lotulelei quickly planted and covered him. Wilson looked wide to swing the ball where he expected to find an open player, but had to force the ball elsewhere. Smart. Fast. Instinctive. Could be one to watch.
Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill
These two look like roommates, or have clearly hit it off quickly. They ran side-by-side in almost every drill. It was not hard to imagine these freshmen becoming upperclassmen in a few years. These might the next Mebane/Bryant duo.
Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett
New guy bonding was not reserved for the draft picks. Avril and Bennett looked to be working together by choice on a number of occasions, including working on hand-fighting.
Michael got a chance to get extra reps with Robert Turbin sidelined. He took advantage, running hard throughout. He comes from the Ricky Watters school of practice play where he took every carry all the way to the endzone. Even a decade later, defensive players don’t love that. Irvin chased him down, knocked the ball free, and recovered the fumble near the goal line. Welcome to the NFL, rook. Lesson learned.
An undrafted free agent receiver out of Mississippi State, Clark is only 5’10”, but he caught my eye with explosion in and out of his breaks, and had a couple nice plays. He’s an early candidate for a surprise practice squad spot.
The undrafted free agent running back out of UCLA was quick and decisive. Need to see him in pads.
All of 6’5″ with arms that make for a crazy catch radius, Williams earned play of the day honors when he hauled in a deep sideline pass from Brady Quinn over a helpless Jeremy Lane. The offense tried the trick two more times, but Williams was unable to repeat the feat.
Percy Harvin, Zach Miller, Chris Clemons, Tharold Simon, Robert Turbin, Chandler Fenner
THINGS I NOW KNOW
1. Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin play different positions