Friday, July 26, 2013

2013 Seahawks Training Camp News & Notes: July 26th Edition (2nd practice)

Note:It has become a tradition here at Hawk Blogger to have a reader design a logo for this training camp notes series. Send your submissions to hawkblogger@gmail.com. I will pick the first one I like, so get them in quickly! The winner will have their name and logo show up on each post. 

OFF THE CUFF
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz....
Practices don't get much more boring than that one. The offense struggled throughout. The action was on the far field, and first chunk was dedicated to special teams. Don't get me wrong, special teams play is crucial, but it is nearly impossible to evaluate who is playing well until the games begin. Energy was a little low today overall. Call it workmanlike if you wish.

Lotulelei is quickly becoming a favorite
This guy looks legit. Moves with purpose and pace. Love his break on the ball on running backs coming out of the back-field. Seeing him shed blocks with pads on will be important.

Receiver spots 1-5 are clear. Spot #6....
Percy Harvin is in his own class, and is paid that way. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are in the next tier, more closely bunched than people realize, albeit at different positions. What people may not realize is that Jermaine Kearse is very clearly a cut above the rest of the receivers in camp. He plays every spot, runs nice routes, and shows reliable hands (yes, I watched him at UW, and know his past problems). Russell Wilson clearly trusts him, and throws his direction with confidence.

That leaves the sixth receiver spot, that has been presumed to be Chris Harper's to lose, as a fourth round pick. Harper was added because he brought a dimension in size and strength that the other players do not have. He is not demonstrating anything that makes him stand out. He is not particularly tall at 6'1", and has not shown the ability to use his body to block off defenders, or route running that creates space. He does not appear very sudden or fast. Granted, this is all two days in, so any conclusions would be foolish. Still, there is a guy that has some clear strengths in Stephen Williams that is making plays early. Williams is 6'5" with ridiculously long arms and good leaping ability. He has put that collection of assets together to good use in the first two days, making arguably the best catch in each practice. Quarterbacks are tossing it up for him, and his success rate is not bad considering the coverage and throws he has had to work with.

Bryan Walters is another guy that had a good day, collecting a number of catches. He seems more like a Charly Martin-type. He is not the unique big body addition Carroll and Schneider have been looking to make. This battle is one to keep an eye on if you are the type of person that cares about the sixth receiver on the depth chart. Some of us are sick that way.

Carson Wiggs has leg
Wiggs and Steven Hauschka were practicing kicks on uprights I had not seen before. They were especially narrow to force greater accuracy. Wiggs was kicking with confidence through 50 yards, and was pushing himself out past 60. He hit a 60-yarder, but fell short on 65. Just a hunch here that Wiggs may wind up with the job.

STAND-OUT NEW FACES
John Lotulelei
He earned it two days in a row.

Bryan Walters
Walters had more catches than any other player. He caught some nice throws in the seam, and looked quick on crossing routes.

Michael Bennett
Bennett caused havoc during the full team two-minute drills, playing as the 5-technique in place of Red Bryant as they were in nickel (more on that later). He was getting around the edge and applying pressure consistently.

Antoine Winfield
Winfield was seen holding court with Kam Chancellor and Brandon Browner. The guy may be new, but he has cred with these young players. It is clear.

Stephen Williams
Williams has shown he can win jump balls on occasion, and even looked good running a crossing route, which I didn't expect at his size. This is not a guy on the verge of stardom, but could be a valuable specialist.


SIDELINED PLAYERS
Percy Harvin, Zach Miller, Chris Clemons, Tharold Simon, Robert Turbin, Chandler Fenner, Korey Toomer, Michael Robinson

THINGS I NOW KNOW


1.  People should learn to get to practice late instead of early
Very little happens the first hour of practice. The most interesting and telling portion comes at the very end, but many people burn out before they get there. 

2. The nickel defensive line is not what I envisioned
Bennett is not playing inside at 3-tech defensive tackle in nickel situations. The current look is Bennett at 5-tech, Brandon Mebane at nose tackle, Tony McDaniel at 3-tech and Cliff Avril at leo. Many of Bennett's best pass pressures came on the interior part of the line against guards. We will have to see if his contributions can be maximized on the edge.

3. Jaye Howard is getting time at 5-technique
Howard has not flashed yet, but he has flickered. His number has caught my eye a couple of times, but there has not been anything spectacular yet. He was brought in to play defensive tackle, and still plays there, but he came in as a backup 5-tech end behind Red Bryant in one nickel drill. 


GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
One of the best drills at camp is when they work with the defensive backs on reading and reacting to a two-receiver split. The DB is positioned in the center of the hash marks, facing two receivers split on either side of him that are holding blocking pads. The receivers start their routes and a coach chooses a side to fire the ball. He also chooses whether to overthrow it aim at a receiver. The defensive back has to read the routes and the direction of the throw as they back-pedal and then break on the ball. If the ball is at the receiver, they attempt to pick it off. If the throw sails high, they drive through the blocking pads. Watch for it. It allows you to see defensive backs read throws and break on the ball. Earl Thomas is the master.

There was not a lot to conclude from today, so here are some quick hitter observations:


  • The team continued to work on back shoulder throws, without much success. 
  • Luke Willson was far less of a factor today, while Sean McGrath made a few plays. Word was after that he may be hurt. 
  • Brady Quinn seems to throw the ball up for grabs on a significant percentage of his snaps. There does not appear to be a good plan there, or the ability to execute throws in small windows. 
  • Tarvaris Jackson looked better today, but was still high on many throws. He did not move the team even a yard in his chance at two-minute.
  • Bruce Irvin looks dangerous at SAM. His explosion off the snap seems very promising coming from the angle he will be positioned at, and facing a tight end or right tackle instead of a left tackle. 
  • Doug Baldwin looks refreshed and ready to surprise people again. He has a bounce in his game that was missing early last year while battling injury. He is a big part of why people should not sweat the Harvin situation.
  • Christine Michael continued to run everything through to the end zone, including an 80-yarder today. That's commitment folks.
  • Benson Mayowa had a flash play today during team drills, creating pressure from the LEO spot and flushing the quarterback from the pocket. He has not shown much else yet.

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