OFF THE CUFF Line situation is fragile
As I watched every snap this newly formed offensive line took for the second time this week, and then watched the second string, it became very clear how perilous the state of the Seahawks line is heading into preseason game number two. Justin Britt and Garry Gilliam look fine at their new spots. None of the backups, save maybe Lemuel Jeanpierre, look passable as starters. Seattle needs this current line configuration to work out, and they need these five guys to stay healthy long enough for Tom Cable and John Schneider to develop some better depth. Gilliam continues to encourage
I like what I see in Gilliam at right tackle. He is athletic and appears to be strong enough. Cliff Avril is a nightmare to block in practice and Gilliam does it as well as anyone. He is not perfect. Avril beat him badly a couple of times, but there is little doubt Gilliam is a sizable improvement in pass protection over Britt.
Britt appears fine at guard
Britt may form a powerful run tandem with Russell Okung on the left side. Where he looks a bit slow-footed at tackle, he looks athletic and fast at guard. He fires off the ball aggressively. I’m eager to see what he looks like against real run defenders on Friday.
Christine Michael and Rod Smith may get extra reps
It appeared that Christine Michael was getting some reps with the starters today. I found myself wondering if the team would rest Robert Turbin this week so they could get an extended look at Michael with the first team line and also get more snaps for the young backs behind him. Thomas Rawls seemed to hurt himself today, so that could open up a lot of time for Rod Smith to make his case.
Lots of players return
Obum Gwacham, Brock Coyle, Douglas McNeil, Will Blackmon, and Jesse Williams were all back on the field. Blackmon did not participate in team drills.
Better pass protection led to better passing
Russell Wilson had some more time to throw and clearer throwing lanes today. He took advantage with a much better day than he had on Monday. His receivers made him look even better, especially Jermaine Kearse who had a series of gasp-inducing catches. Kevin Norwood had one of his better days with a couple standout catches himself. Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Kasen Williams all made memorable plays.
What the hell happened to Alvin Bailey?
This was supposed to be another one of Schneider’s rags-to-riches, diamond in the rough stories. Alvin Bailey was an undrafted free agent guard who became one of the most gifted pass blocking tackles on the team. It is rare for a guard to be able to play tackle. It is even more rare for short guard (6’3″) to play left tackle. Bailey was that rare exception. He was in line to win the starting left guard spot this year. He lost weight. His play since camp has opened may be the biggest disappointment on the roster, and it has put the season at risk. I hope he regains his focus and turns his career around, for him and the team.
STAND-OUT NEW FACES RT Terry Poole
When Terry Poole closes his eyes tonight, he is going to see Cassius Marsh. The second-year defensive end terrorized Poole all practice. Poole is a project. He shows the nastiness and physicality that meshes well with Cable’s philosophy, but he needs to get in better shape and work on his fundamentals. He is the second-string right tackle for this team right now. Sure, the team could decide to shift Britt back to tackle if Gilliam got hurt, but moving two players is always less desirable than going with a next man up approach. Poole may not be ready to play meaningful snaps until at least midseason, and maybe next year.
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis
It was good to see KPL back on the field. There was a moment where I saw a player flash in front of my eyes and snag a pass before making a hard lateral cut. My brain registered Christine Michael. It was KPL. He has that kind of explosiveness. Now if he could just stay healthy…
S Dion Bailey
With Earl Thomas back on the field, Bailey became the safety opposite him in the lineup. Steven Terrell slid to the second string. It has been a while since Deshawn Shead has run with the starters. I think Bailey is legitimately ahead of him on the depth chart.
Jeremy Lane, Kam Chancellor (holdout), Paul Richardson, Ryan Murphy, David King, Mohammed Seisay, Cooper Helfet, Chris Matthews, Tarvaris Jackson, Quayshawn Nealy, Frank Clark, Jordan Hill, Tristan Wade
THINGS I NOW KNOW
1. Fans are going to be annoyed with the false starts this week
If this practice was any indication, this line is going to struggle with false starts in Kansas City. It is the first road game for center Drew Nowak. The left guard is responsible for triggering the snap by looking back at the quarterback and then tapping the center. That would be Justin Britt, who has played there all of three days. Gilliam will be getting his first start, and Okung may have led the league in false starts last year. The second string was even shakier. Buckle up.
A song came on that both Kearse and Richard Sherman liked. They were lined up across one another in one-on-one coverage drills. Kearse started to shimmy to the music. Sherman matched him. It was a mini-dance off for a few seconds before the ball was snapped. Kearse streaked toward the corner of the endzone. Sherman was with him step for step. The ball floated perfectly for the back corner and somehow found a path around Sherman’s arm and landed in one of Kearse’s hands. He held on and got both feet in for a touchdown. Seahawks football incarnate.
During that drill, receivers were working on their releases and the corners were being coached up on press coverage. Kris Richard spent some extra time with Tye Smith who was too influenced by the dancing feet of the receiver at the line and lunged. Richard appeared to direct Smith to ignore their feet and wait for them to make their first move before extending an arm to push them off their route.
In addition to Rawls, Marcus Burley ended practice with ice wrapped around his left calf. Both players better try to heal up because this will really be the last extended playing time before cuts are made. The third game will give the starters a full half and probably into the third quarter. This is not the time to be injured.