OFF THE CUFF Derrick Coleman, Kevin Smith return, Jesse Williams plays more
A few players returned to the field after being out with injury. Derrick Coleman looked healthy sprinting from drill to drill, and is still the clear favorite to win the fullback job due to his special teams pedigree. Kevin Smith was back at wide receiver and made at least one nice catch. The return to action was a bigger deal for Smith, who should get some time in the preseason game that he will need if he wants to recapture some of the momentum that Kasen Williams has taken from him. Jesse Williams also participated in team drills for the first time that I have seen. Williams gets snaps with the starters
Speaking of Williams, he worked into the rotation at receiver with the starting crew. The ball did not come his way, but it is recognition from the coaches that he has come on strong the past week. Darrell Bevell acknowledged as much in his post-practice presser.
Easy to see why Tom Cable is intrigued by Keavon Milton
Stop me if you have heard this one before: lineman who is a strong run blocker but a suspect pass protector competes for a starting role in Seattle. The first time it really hit home just home much Cable values run blocking over pass protection was when Michael Bowie was higher on the depth chart than Alvin Bailey. Bailey was a wunderkind pass blocker, and Bowie got beaten regularly in pass rush drills. Then I saw possibly the worst pass blocking performance in training camp by a drafted player with Justin Britt last year, who ended up as the team’s starting right tackle. Milton looks like the latest in that lineage, and again Bailey may be the one relegated to backup.
Milton is very athletic for a man his size (320 lbs), and got to the second level quickly during practice. He didn’t reach his man, but I have seen him move people. The challenge is that he is not strong in pass pro. Jordan Hill swam by Milton multiple times during practice, both in team drills and in 1v1. Game play will help us learn a lot more.
Richard Sherman takes Douglas McNeil under his wing
Richard Sherman took a rest day during practice, but he was heavily involved. New cornerback Douglas McNeil was shadowed by the All-Pro corner the whole practice.
McNeil continues to evolve at corner, but is raw. It would not shock me if the team only gave him very limited reps in the game tomorrow to avoid sapping his confidence as he develops. From what I have seen so far, McNeil is fine for the first handful of steps in coverage, but is pretty easily shaken once a receiver plants his foot in the ground and makes a break. If anyone can help a 6’3″ receiver learn how to play corner, it should be Sherman.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES WR Tyler Lockett
Lockett was everywhere in practice. He was catching crossing patterns left and right, with nary a defender able to stay with him. Already known for his quickness, Lockett looked electric on Wednesday. He looked special.
RB Rod Smith
Smith seized my attention on Saturday, and showed that he has sustained that energy level when handed the ball yesterday.
OG Keavon Milton
Milton got the reps with the starters, but struggled in pass blocking.
TE Jimmy Graham
Graham caught a nice touchdown in red zone drills and spiked the ball emphatically.
CB Mohammed Seisay
Seisay continues to come on. He had a nice break-up of a pass to Kevin Smith. Smith appeared to catch the ball, but Seisay flew into view and slapped down on it to strip it from Smith’s hands. It was unclear if it was a forced fumble or a pass breakup. Either way, it was an impressive play from Seisay.
CB Tye Smith
Odds are if someone is getting burned so far in camp, it is #22 in coverage. Tye Smith has struggled to demonstrate any consistent ability to stay with receivers, and it is getting hard to imagine the rookie making the roster. He still has time to turn things around, but not much time.
Jeremy Lane, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor (holdout), Tharold Simon, Paul Richardson, Ryan Murphy, Demarcus Dobbs, Richard Sherman (rest), Kevin Pierre-Louis, David King, Will Blackmon, Brock Coyle
THINGS I NOW KNOW
1. It takes five lightning strikes to move practice inside
The crowd oohed when the first bolt of lighting flashed across the sky. By about the third strike, the cameramen recording practice started to lower their cherry pickers about halfway. Two more strikes, and it was time to head inside. Michael Bennett grabbed the mic from the public address announcer to tell fans something unintelligible, to which the PA announcer responded, “Thanks, Michael. Everyone that was Michael Bennett.” As usual, Bennett made the crowd smile.
Not a lot can be gleaned from an unpadded practice that got cut short. One thing that struck me as I watched Russell Okung block all comers during 1v1 pass rush drills was just how underappreciated he is. His early durability problems soured a lot of people on him, but he has been a consistently solid left tackle for years now.
Garry Gilliam has had a nice training camp, and is someone who could be a decent left tackle prospect, but Okung is in a different class than anyone else on that line. I’m not convinced this team can consistently win without him.
The team spent some time working on fake field goals. Jon Ryan was sprinting left and right and tossing passes like a true Ginga Warrior.
There were a couple tussles during practice, including one that saw rookie lineman Terry Poole’s helmet get ripped off. It was not clear who did the ripping. Poole has been getting third string snaps at right tackle.