Friday, August 2, 2013

2013 Seahawks Training Camp News & Notes: August 2nd Edition (Scrimmage)

Created by Cooper Crosby of Ratio

OFF THE CUFF
Winston Guy lucky Stephen Williams was not injured
Winston Guy is a different type of personality. You can see it on the Real Rob Report. You can hear it in his interviews. It is clear he wants to belong and be respected. What is less clear is whether he belongs and deserves that respect. He is a uniquely talented athlete that can hit like a linebacker and cover like a safety. The coaching staff has him as Kam Chancellor's back-up. Decisions like the one we saw today, where he came in low and early on receiver Stephen Williams who was stretched high to attempt a long catch, have to give the coaches and Guy's teammates doubts. There was no need for the play to happen. Guy had time to consider his options. He chose to be the Tough Guy instead of the Smart Guy. It was not a tough play though. It was cheap. Williams stayed in a heap on the ground for a few minutes with training staff surrounding him. He said something to Guy as he walked by, and Guy was clearly not done with the tough act. He lunged toward Williams and had to be held back. Guy would be wise to focus on proving he has the judgment required to be an NFL player, not overcompensating for whatever insecurities he harbors.

Stephen Williams needs to be a tough guy
Williams got a scare from the play with Guy. He went to the locker room and came back to field after a few minutes to continue playing. He was a different player after returning. He seemed timid, and was not nearly as aggressive going for the ball as he has been so far in training camp. Only Williams knows how much he was hurting, but he needs to be able to take a hit and not let it change the way he approaches the game from a mental standpoint. Making big plays in shorts with limited hitting is great, but carrying that over to Sundays requires the ability to take a hit. The fact that he came back out and played is a good sign. As is the fact that he continued to get open. I will be watching in the pre-season game to see him catch a tough slant or put his body at risk again going up high and strong.

Rishaw Johnson steps forward
Michael Bennett is a bad man. he brings strength, speed and tenacity on nearly every play. He made life tough on J.R. Sweezy at times, but Rishaw Johnson put in some impressive work against him later. Johnson stood Bennett up on his first snap. Bennett came hard at Johnson the next snap, and Johnson held his ground. It was remarkable enough that it left me wondering if there is time and willingness from the coaching staff to expand the guard battle. Johnson has not stood out until now, but it never hurts to play your best with full pads on. This is one to keep an eye on.

Russell Wilson 
It was just a couple days ago that I was mentioning the lack of progress on Wilson's rhythm throws. He did not have a high completion rate today, but almost all his completions were at the top of his drop. He even hit a slant to Williams early, one of the throws he rarely takes and often struggles to make. Wilson's calling card will always be scoring. That sounds a little obvious, but he is specially equipped to operate in the red zone. He is the quarterback equivalent of Shaun Alexander. His game heightens as he nears the goal line, where his creativity and mobility put maximum pressure on the defense. His Wilson-to-Willson touchdown today was just the latest example.


STAND-OUT NEW FACES
Jordan Hill
Another batted ball for Hill, and a few pressures. He is becoming an intriguing nickel combination with Bennett on the interior. Lots of speed and movement.

Will Blackmon
Blackmon was practically Velcroed to receivers all afternoon. His game has taken a step forward. He is playing with more and more confidence. It is hard to see him making the team unless he proves he can contribute on special teams since Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane are such strong special teams players. If there was a scenario where Antoine Winfield is cut (still highly doubt that), it would be because they want to keep Blackmon round.

O'Brien Schofield
Schofield got plenty of reps with the starters at the SAM spot Bruce Irvin plays. It is becoming more and more likely that he is going to take over for Irvin during his suspension. Even when Cliff Avril was practicing, he was not taking snaps at SAM.

Benson Mayowa
One day after I went to Twitter to point out that I was not all that high on Mayowa, he had possibly his best day. He beat Bailey and Mike Person for sacks, and had a big tackle for loss on Christine Michael. He is gaining confidence, and the impact plays are starting to show up.

Jesse Williams
Flashes. Finally. Williams has been one of the bigger disappointments in camp thus far. He has played okay, and had a few memorable moments, but his knee does appear to be an issue, or at least is on his mind. He cut it loose today, and looked like a different player. The play that stood out the most was one he had zero impact on the outcome. One of the running backs got a toss sweep to the strongside. Williams was playing 3-technique, which is on the weakside of the formation. He took one step forward, and then saw the play was heading outside. He turned and sprinted diagonally down-field and toward the opposite sideline. The ball carrier never reached him, but this man was moving. Shocking speed for a man of that size. For his next trick, he tossed aside 340 lb James Carpenter, and moved into the backfield, but the play was not in his area. He had at least two tackles for loss. More please.

John Lotulelei
It has been a while since Lotulelei has shown up in my notes. He grabbed attention early, and has been steady since. He had at least one tackle for loss today, and possibly two. His speed to the ball is encouraging. Look for this guy to make his mark in pre-season games.

Tony McDaniel
McDaniel was the most dominant player on the field early in the scrimmage. He was unblockable. Three straight plays resulted in either a tackle for loss or sack by McDaniel. This is a bad man, with bad intentions.

Christine Michael
Michael showed off his receiving chops today. Not only was he making tough catches, but he immediately got his eyes down-field and created some big gains.

SIDELINED PLAYERS
Zach Miller, Chris Clemons, Tharold Simon, Robert Turbin, Chandler Fenner, Korey Toomer, Sidney Rice (caught a couple passes in position drills), Ron Parker, Cliff Avril, Michael Palmer, Darren Fells, Michael Brooks, Jeremy Lane, Bobby Wagner, Kenneth Boatright, Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor, Kyle Knox

THINGS I NOW KNOW


1.  LB and LEO are getting crowded
Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith, O'Brien Schofield, Benson Mayowa, Mike Morgan are occupying two positions. That does include Bennett, who is playing plenty of LEO in the base 4-3 defense, or Chris Clemons, who is seemingly due back early in the season. Irvin will be suspended for four weeks, freeing up one roster spot. Smith is core special teams and can play WILL as well as SAM. Schofield seems like a near lock while Irvin is out. That leaves Mayowa and Morgan. I doubt they both make it, and once I crunch the roster numbers in a week or two, it may become clear that neither can. 

2. Sidney Rice is fine
Nobody was more shocked than me to hear Rice was out of the country for a medical procedure. He looks stronger and healthier than he has ever looked in Seahawks blue. There has practically been a glow emanating from him through camp as he bounds from drill-to-drill, and runs with almost a joy. He was back today and seems poised to have a big season. People talk more about his contract than his talent at this point. Too many people have forgotten how special of a talent he is. He will soon remind them.


GENERAL IMPRESSIONS
The first team defense is starting to look like the Ray Lewis Ravens or the Brian Urlacher Bears pre-snap. There were a couple moments, one in particular, where it struck me how quickly and easily the players were able communicate about what they saw from the offensive formation and the adjustments they needed to make. There was no sign of big gestures, or running around making sure everyone saw the same thing. A quick glance and hand signal was followed by a position shift by a few players, and they were off to the races. There are real signs that shared experience, and a passion for the film room, are paying off for a unit that managed to be the #1 scoring defense without having played that long together. As much as the pass rush is a point of focus for improved late-game performances, this cohesion. born of just another year of roster stability, may wind up being a bigger reason for improvement.

Earl Thomas has been on point this camp. This is becoming his defense. He is quiet of the field, but nobody is talking to his teammates and woofing after a big play more than their speed racer safety. The Seahawks would be wise to extend the man now before he transcends into the stratosphere of safety play in 2013. Thomas has not yet had a big statistical season in terms of impact plays. His value has been derived more from less tangible factors like throws not made due to his presence. This very well could be the year Thomas puts up crooked numbers.

Brady Quinn and Tarvaris Jackson continued their battle for the back-up role. Both had their moments in the scrimmage. It is hard to say who is ahead at this point, which probably bodes well for Jackson. His history with the club and the players means he likely wins all ties.

The team is off tomorrow, and then back at it on Sunday.

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