2014 Training Camp News & Notes: August 10th Edition
OFF THE CUFF Energy level below Seahawks standard
Seattle returned to the field after their first pre-season loss in over two years and largely appeared to be going through the motions. A hallmark of Seahawks practices is the pace and passion on display. Music blares. Pete Carroll jogs and throws the football. Horns signal transitions from one drill to the next. There were many moments the past two years where Richard Sherman would start dancing, or Red Bryant would take exception with a Breno Giacomini block and start a scuffle, or Earl Thomas would woof at receivers and quarterbacks. Those moments have largely been absent during this camp. I have mostly chalked it up to a team growing up and being more professional. Today was different. There was no edge. It may just be the dog days of training camp taking its toll. Even if it is, now is the time for the leaders like Thomas, Sherman, Doug Baldwin, and Russell Wilson to step forward and remind everyone the bar they must clear every single day to be champions.
Trey Wolfe could be a keeper
It is unusual for a player to be signed off the free agent pile this late into camp who has any chance of sticking around. Wolfe may be an exception. He had me grabbing for my roster to see who #1 was in the early part of practice. He showed an explosive break on the ball in position drills, and continued his strong day with an interception in team drills. He outfought Paul Richardson for a jump ball on a deep throw down the sideline by Tarvaris Jackson. Maybe his fresh legs will wane and Wolfe will look more like the peripheral player his signing date would indicate he is, but his energy jumped out from a largely ho-hum day.
Kevin Pierre-Louis is missing a golden opportunity
Brock Coyle deserves all the accolades he is receiving, and has easily been the best new linebacker on the roster. That was a title everyone, including this blogger, expected Pierre-Louis (KPL) to grab. The Seahawks scout that was responsible for his region of the country compared KPL to NaVarro Bowman. There have been zero moments during camp where that comparison seemed appropriate. There have been some injury problems, but there has not been a single play from the rookie that has caught my attention. I watched him closely today, and his position drills were impressive. There was speed and quickness. Then he sat out team drills. The hope is that he heals enough to play this week and start to show why he was worth drafting, let alone comparing him to one of the NFL’s most ferocious linebackers. I will be waiting. He should not be.
The Jackson Jeffcoat experiment is not working
Ken Norton Jr. was cajoling and prodding Jeffcoat through much of practice. The team wants to see if he can fit at linebacker. It was ugly at practice. His feet are slow. His fitness level is questionable, and his coverage skills are nearly nonexistent. During one drill, where tight ends were getting work against linebackers in coverage, Jeffcoat was beaten badly. There was a good 3-5 yards between him in the tight end after only 10 yards from scrimmage. Norton asked him to line up again. It was worse. RaShaun Allen beat him downfield, and Jeffcoat flipped the motor off before the pass was even thrown and started jogging. The team has to be asking how he was so productive in college when he appears to have so little in the way of strengths. The position is still new to him, but it is hard to see him making up enough ground to even be worth a practice squad spot at this point.
Right tackle is a problem
Britt continued to run with the starters at right tackle. I would have expected Eric Winston to start splitting reps with him by now if they were considering him as a possible starter. Russell Okung was back, but Alvin Bailey stayed at backup left tackle instead of joining the right tackle fray. That may be because Okung is only partially participating so far. Whatever the case, Britt is a serious problem as a pass blocker. He has shown improvement, but he would need a lot of tight end help if the team is really planning on starting him.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES CB Trey Wolfe
Looks smaller than the other corners, but showed great quickness and burst. Played with an infectious energy.
WR Kevin Smith
Had another nice catch in traffic.
CB Phillip Adams
Nearly had an interception after making a good read and great break on the ball. His hands betrayed him.
TE Morrell Presley
Presley has made a number of nice catches through camp, and did so again today during 7v7.
Garrett Scott, Erik Pinkins (still in a boot), Malcolm Smith, Bruce Irvin, Korey Toomer, Russell Okung (partial participation), Kevin Norwood (in a boot), Jimmy Staten, Bobby Wagner, Kevin Pierre-Louis (partial participation), Michael Brooks, Akeem Auguste, A.J. Jefferson, Jordan Hill, C.J. Davis
THINGS I NOW KNOW
1. Richardson needs to be open to make a play
Richardson may be the anti-Golden Tate. He runs good routes and has top-shelf speed, but he is a little fragile and does not often come away with the ball in contested situations. I have witnessed a half-dozen or so moments where Richardson fought for the ball in the air with his defender. He has yet to win one. That was Tate’s bread-and-butter. Where Tate struggled was getting open reliably. Richardson should become the better receiver, but it appears he needs that speed and quickness so he can have space for his catches.
2. Baldwin does not mess around on special teams
You may remember that Baldwin told Pete Carroll he was reluctant to join the punt return battle because he enjoyed blocking so much on the return team. He showed why today when he pancaked TE RaShaun Allen during special teams drills. Allen weighs roughly 60 lbs more than Baldwin.
Cooper Helfet is having a terrific training camp for the third straight year. The quarterbacks trust him, and he showed why today with a couple highlight reel catches. One came in red zone drills when he dove for a ball and stayed in bounds for a touchdown. The other was on a crossing route when he was led a little too much, but he reached out with his left hand and snagged the ball one-handed in full stride and then secured it with the other hand without losing a step.
Helfet has the inside track on the third tight end spot, but will be pushed by Allen and Presley. Presley and Allen are probably fighting for a practice squad spot.
Byron Maxwell had a nice pick during red zone drills. The concern about him is completely overblown. People act like he will be targeted more this year after Browner and Thurmond left. Newsflash: they were out the last quarter of the season and teams did target him. He made them pay.
What I am about to write is blasphemy. Before you throw your phone or computer monitor against the wall, hear me out. Earl Thomas has not had a great camp. He has not been as energetic. He has not been as omnipresent in every play. He just has not quite been the dominant Earl Thomas we have come to know. This could be because he is intentionally dialing it down for the long haul of the season. It could be because his partner in crime, Kam Chancellor has been out. It could be that I am way off base. He was a step late getting to a few passes in the opening game. It is nothing to pull your hair out about at this point, but it is what I have observed so far.
The team has one more public practice on Tuesday, and then plays their second pre-season game on Friday. The most important things to monitor will be the stability and play of the offensive line, and run defense.