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Mike’s Training Camp Notes, August 19: A Veteran’s Smooth Landing, Receivers Look Ready, Rookie CB Rises Up

“Look up to the sky,” said the DJ as fans were filing in to the VMAC today. “See a blue plane?”

Indeed, at 13,500 feet in the air, a plane was flying overhead, barely visible to the naked eye. I couldn’t quite tell when it happened, but a figure jumped out of the plane, free falling towards the ground for 45 seconds until a blue and white parachute was deployed. Slowly, the figure came closer and closer into view, directly above the facility. Then, the DJ came clean: It was Marcus Trufant, skydiving his way to the VMAC field to an enthusiastic applause.

This is Seahawks training camp, I thought to myself as Trufant unhooked himself from his chute and walked alongside the berm, waving at fans. Sometimes, you have no idea what you’ll see until you get there.
Not to be outdone, the Seahawks took the practice field to follow up on Trufant’s grand entrance. This was Day 14 — the final day of camp viewable by the public. By now, guys have had time to adjust to new surroundings, and in some cases, new positions. Veterans have shaken off the rust. The lines on both sides of the ball should look more cohesive.

I was hoping to see a group of guys looking far more in sync than they did two weeks ago, and I was not disappointed.

Gwacham leaves a mark
One name that hasn’t been tossed around much during camp is Obum Gwacham, a sixth-round pick out of Oregon State. The 6’5″ former wide receiver was converted to defensive end in his final collegiate year, and his raw athleticism was instantly appealing to John Schneider. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.) Today in pass rush drills, Gwacham got a little overzealous on a rush and ended up driving his helmet right into the side of a hapless equipment guy’s face. Gwacham immediately rushed to his aid to make sure the poor guy’s skull was still intact. No broken jaws during this training camp, thankfully. But a lesser man would’ve gone into the fetal position after taking a hit like that.

The Lofa effect
Lofa Tatupu may have been a truly great linebacker on the field, but he may have been born to be a coach. His energy is palpable, and the knowledge he brings to one of the best units in the game is only making them better. Watching him fly around the practice field and always demanding the best from his guys, you can’t help but be excited. How good were Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, and Bruce Irvin last year? They have a chance to reach a level that few LBs have ever reached playing this game in 2015.

“Pedestrians” have the right of way
The Seahawks have taken — and still take — much criticism for having “pedestrians” at receiver. Don’t remind Doug Baldwin of that. Fortunately for this team, those days are going to be over this season. Baldwin, Kearse, and Tyler Lockett had nearly perfect days today. I almost expect that from them at this point; even with a bit of rookie leniency given to Lockett. But the guys who really took off today? Kasen Williams and BJ Daniels. Daniels is working as the #2 kick returner behind Lockett, and Williams is catching everything the QBs can throw at him. He’s learning to use his size to out-muscle DBs to the ball, much in the fashion that Chris Matthews did in the Super Bowl. With Matthews out for a few more weeks, Williams and Daniels have embraced their moment to shine. Look for a lot of them on Friday night in Kansas City.

Could five running backs make the cut?
It’s definitely possible. Christine Michael had a great day in 11-on-11s, and Thomas Rawls wasn’t far behind him. The wild cards here are Will Tukuafu, who has had a relatively quiet camp, and Rod Smith. Smith has looked more explosive than Rawls at times, but he’s had moments where he looks like Robert Turbin. The team could stash Smith on the practice squad, and C-Mike looks like he’s earning his place on the roster (finally.) But where does that leave Rawls? There may be some difficult decisions ahead for the coaches.

Tye Smith developing
Tye Smith, a rookie CB from somewhere called Towson University, was having a rough time in camp. That was the case until he turned it around under the lights against Denver last week, and he’s been able to capitalize on that success. He was excellent in coverage against Kearse today, but Kearse was still able to haul in a spectacular one-handed grab in the end zone at one point. Smith could be a valuable asset with corner depth being a bit of a question mark at this point.

Britt at guard a quality move
After we all watched Justin Britt get terrorized by Von Miller last week, everyone cringed. That’s our starting right tackle, we thought while collectively wincing. Tom Cable knows what he’s doing, and that’s why he moved Britt to guard, and Garry Gilliam is now getting a shot at right tackle, with Alvin Bailey also being thrown in the mix. Such is the way it goes with this run-first line, which doesn’t place much emphasis on pass blocking. They’ve gotten by and more like this since Cable came on the staff. And today, the line looked better than it has throughout camp. Credit also goes to rookies Mark Glowinski, Terry Poole, and Kristjan Sokoli for picking up the playbook quickly. The real test will come on Friday, when the Chiefs throw their fearsome pass rush at this line. But for the moment, any improvement is a good improvement.

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