Malik McDowell & C.J. Prosise conspicuous in their absence
Oy. This is the type of drama nobody wants to start camp. Two of the most promising young players on the roster were both missing when the team took the field for the first time this preseason. We would later learn that McDowell was involved in a serious ATV injury in the last few weeks.
rookie Malik McDowell involved in vehicular accident. Carroll said “we’ll see” when asked if he could miss the year pic.twitter.com/5YvIQiSRi8
Pete Carroll would not confirm or deny that McDowell would miss the season, and it even sounded ominous enough that his career might be threatened. Thankfully, McDowell slowed the panic with a statement of his own:
McDowell makes it clear the injury is not career or life threatening, but stops short of saying he will play this season. He does say at the end that he will be on the field in the “near future.” We are left to debate how soon that is until we get official word from the team. Our hope has to be that the team is being cautious about setting any expectations until they have had the chance to examine him themselves. That should be remedied soon if McDowell is, indeed, in Seattle in a few days. For now, cross your fingers and toes he is able to play soon. Seattle risked a lot trading back twice and passing on some very intriguing players to pick him. He is the lynchpin of that draft class. Positive thoughts…
The prognosis for Procise is far more clear. Carroll indicated he was ill. It may be another day or two, but nothing to worry about there. Phew!
Changing the routine
Camp has been rather predictable in past years. The team usually starts out with some special teams drills and then moves into positional drills, and then 7v7 and then full team drills. That changed today. They started with light team drills for the first time I have ever seen. These were mostly half-speed with a full complement of offensive and defensive players. These might have been installations of plays, but I have not observed this in a camp practice before. Players were shuttled in and out rapidly.
Refs were present and were watching for false starts and offsides penalties. The team may be looking for more chances to avoid those mental mistakes. They may be wanted to instill a mentality of faster starts given their early season struggles the past few years. That was not the only change.
All three quarterbacks lined up before stretching even started with a fullback and tailback behind each of them, and a center in front. They would hike the ball in unison, and hand off or play-action to the back at quarter-speed. The three guys taking snaps at center were Justin Britt, Ethan Pocic, and Joey Hunt. That was the only time I saw Pocic taking center snaps during practice. The three fullbacks were Marcel Reece, Kyle Coleman, and Tre Madden. Although, Mike Davis got some snaps there as well. That was the only time Davis took snaps at FB from what I could see.
Individual position drills seemed to be shortened compared to past years, and the final portion of team drills seemed a bit shorter as well. Coaches change practice routines for a reason, even if only to keep veterans engaged. I’ll keep watching in the coming days to see if these patterns persist or new ones emerge.
Earl Thomas, Doug Baldwin, and Bobby Wagner practice with the defensive ends
Yep. Some of you may have read that Baldwin started doing this to help him work on techniques to get press corners off him by using his hands to disengage the way defensive linemen need to every snap when grappling with the offensive line. Thomas and Wagner were new additions to this cross-training. Wagner looked like he had never done these drills before. The coaches were helping him with hand placement and how to counter the hands of the blocker. A padded arm would go up, and Wagner was told to circle his arm outside and over before batting the pad inside to always keep his arm outside and free.
He picked it up quickly and progressed through the drill without another hitch. It makes sense that Wagner would spend time on this given that he blitzed far more last season than in previous years, and middle linebackers are constantly in the middle of linemen hurtling toward them. Still, it was cool to see an All-Pro still learning.
Thomas was more of a head-scratcher. He looked like he had done these drills before. Maybe he was just doing it to keep busy during special teams drills, or maybe he will be blitzing more this year as well.
WR Cyril Grayson has my attention
One of my favorite parts of the first day of camp is that someone always stands out that you may not know much about. In the past, those guys have been players like Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman, and Brandon Browner. Grayson was that guy for me today. Not to say he will become what any of those guys did, but he was a blur. I doubt many will mention him as he only had one catch or so, but he was moving at a different speed than anyone else on offense. I saw a crossing route where he created three yards of separation in just a handful of steps. I saw a catch in the flat where he barrelled into an unsuspecting defensive back because he turned it upfield so quickly and decisively. At first glance, I thought he was a running back who had caught that pass because of the agility.
I had heard Grayson was fast given his track background, but I paid it little mind because 5’9″ deep threats are not really what this team needs given what they already have in Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Grayson looked more like a guy who could potentially mimic the role of a guy like Taylor Gabriel from Atlanta or Tyreek Hill of Kansas City. Those are players who can take short passes and turn them into long gains. Low risk, high reward is the best type of ratio. Clearly, this was one practice, and not even that productive of one at that. The test will be how Grayson looks once the pads come on.
Glowinski second string?
The team was shuffling offensive linemen at such frequency and almost randomness, that it was very hard to say what the depth chart looks like. Mark Glowinski, however, seemed to be pretty consistently behind Oday Aboushi at right guard. That was the case when the teams took the field for the final team drills, which is usually the best indicator of the depth chart. The rest of the starting line:
LT George Fant
LG Rees Odhiambo (Luke Joeckel practiced, but sat out team drills. Assume he is the starter)
C Justin Britt
The team may be rotating starters each day to get a look at guys. They have done that before. Still, worth noting.
More offensive line info
Robert Myers got second-string snaps behind Fant at left tackle. He is a big athlete. I’m curious how he holds up in pass rushing drills with pads. Jordan Roos played exclusively at left guard behind Odhiambo. He looks stiff to me. I’m not sure I see him working in a zone blocking scheme that requires movement and getting downfield. Ethan Pocic practiced exclusively at right tackle behind Ifedi. Without pads, there was little to say about line performance.
Two of the first players on the field were Delano Hill and Shaquill Griffin. They looked like they already have a rapport. Then, fellow rookie secondary partner Tedric Thompson showed up and the three players were chatting like old friends. It reminded me of watching Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Sherman, and Browner congregating back in 2011. We can all hope that is not the last time those youngsters remind us of the current starters.
Special teams coverage units looks loaded
There were tons of new athletes on the field for special teams. My way-too-early prediction is that the Seahawks special teams will be the most improved aspect of the team this year.
Terence Garvin ahead of Michael Wilhoite for now
I was surprised to see Garvin running with the starters at SAM LB. Wilhoite was the favorite, but Garvin looked very fluid and quick. This may have been a way to ease Wilhoite back onto the field, or he may have some more serious competition than I gave Garvin credit for.
I present these with a few very important caveats:
These are not official. They are based on what I observed.
The team varies their rotations based on different drills and different days. My depth charts are based on what I have observed to be the rule, not the exception.
There is a lot going on, and I can only watch one group at any one time, so I absolutely miss things.
Important! These represent practice depth charts. The actual fourth linebacker or third offensive tackle is not represented, and that is how the team would judge things (i.e., Luke Joeckel might be the backup left tackle if George Fant got hurt during the season even though Robert Myers is playing backup RT in practice)
The big news here was Kasen Williams appeared to be running with the 1s in kick coverage. Special teams play is crucial for him (or anyone) to snag that final receiver spot. Other guys in that group: Cassius Marsh, Deandre Elliott, Dewey McDonald, Wilhoite, Neiko Thorpe, Garvin, Griffin, Bradley McDougald, and Delano Hill. I also saw Arthur Brown and Nick Vannett get in there a few times.
Jeremy Lane was the starter opposite Sherman at all times. When the team went to nickel, Lane slid inside and Thorpe came in as the other outside corner. Griffin was second string. I did not get a chance to watch this rotation closely enough to know more yet.
It looked like Kyle Coleman was the starter, but Reece got some snaps as well. Tre Madden was the third.
Eddie Lacy was the starter, with Rawls getting second string reps and Alex Collins getting third. Mike Davis got a number of snaps, and appeared to be fourth. Chris Carson was fifth.
It was Russell Wilson, then Trevone Boykin, then Austin Davis.
Dion Jordan, DeShawn Shead, Tyler Lockett, Prosise, McDowell, Justin Senior
Players who caught my eye
RB Chris Carson
At first glance, Carson looked like Ricky Watters. He is a physical specimen, with big arms and a well proportioned body. He stood out for the wrong reasons after that. I saw him jogging between drills, as the last running back to get there, and also saw him checking teammates during a special teams drill to see how hard they were running. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but when you are trying to make this roster, you better bring it every single moment.
LS Tyler Ott
Ott is much bigger than the other long snapper, Nolan Frese. Checking the roster, he’s 20 pounds heavier. That could be a significant advantage when it comes to blocking. I did not watch them snap, so I can’t comment on his snapping prowess.
OL Ethan Pocic
Pocic made an interesting fashion decision, wearing the short shorts on the practice field. It definitely made him easy to spot. There was little else to make note of with line play.
RB Eddie Lacy
Lacy looked fit and trim. In fact, he looked a bit like Marshawn Lynch with his dreads and sun hat. No pads today, but all systems looked go.
WR Amara Darboh
Darboh had a few chances, and made most of them, but he dropped a long gain on a seam route when Wilson put it right on his hands.
RB Alex Collins
Collins was noticeably quicker than last year. He might be much improved, and if so, Seattle is going to have a big surplus at running back.
WR Rodney Smith
Smith is a tall dude. At 6’5″, he was able to reach up and grab a few passes that others would have struggled to come down with.
DE Marcus Smith
He was a linebacker for the Eagles, but I don’t see it. He is long and not agile enough to be a linebacker in space. He appears to be much more similar to the build of Seahawks LEO defensive ends.
Things I learned
ATVs suck worse than I ever imagined
Blair Walsh is a tiny human being, especially after watching Steven Haushka for so many years.
I was struck by how happy the defense appeared to be when practice started. The DJ had Summertime blaring on the speakers, and Thomas, Chancellor, Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Wagner, and K.J. Wright all had smiles on their faces hip-bumping. There is so much talk about the potentially closing championship window for the Seahawks that people are almost forgetting these guys haven’t left or retired yet. There is every reason to believe this can be the best defense in football. Few teams can say that when their camps open.
Wilson was sharp today. He seemed to be playing at a somewhat deliberate pace. Nothing was rushed. His throws were mostly accurate, and he moved around well. He connected a few times with Jimmy Graham, who looked sleek and fast.
Britt and Fant really stood out with their size. Britt has grown a long beard and just looked thick from head to toe. He’s clearly a vet now. Fant is a monster. Time will tell if he can be a starting caliber left tackle, but he could be the most physically intimidating left tackle the team has had since Walter Jones. Do not freak and misinterpret that sentence. I am referring purely to his size and strength. James Carpenter was probably the biggest right tackle I have seen in Seattle and he was a disaster out there. My gut tells me Fant is going to work out and maybe even be a plus player.