Monday’s OTA was the seventh for the Seahawks, the third the media got to witness. Which gives us just enough info to give an assessment of a few players who appear to have helped themselves with their performances so far (and to be sure, these aren’t the only five — and as you will see, technically there are six. But these are five/six whose play/presence has been especially noteworthy to this point).
1, LB Korey Toomer: Toomer, a fifth-round pick in 2012 out of Idaho who has spent the last two seasons on Injured Reserve, was called “the bright guy of the whole camp” Monday by coach Pete Carroll. Finally healthy after a hip injury last season, the speed that compelled the Seahawks to draft him has been evident throughout. He’s been playing largely the strongside linebacker spot, a position that suddenly could have an opening depending on how quickly Bruce Irvin recovers from his own hip surgery. If Irvin is slowed at all early in the season, Toomer might be the one to sneak into the rotation. His rise also creates even more intrigue for the final few linebacker spots on the roster with returning starters Bobby Wagner (middle linebacker), K.J. Wright (weakside) and Malcolm Smith and Irvin (strongside) assured roster spots, and 2014 fourth-rounder Kevin Pierre-Louis also likely to make it. Everything else behind those five, though, looks pretty competitive.
2, RBs Christine Michael and Robert Turbin: We’ll make this a combo entry to recognize the play of the two tailbacks who are getting all of the reps at that spot with starter Marshawn Lynch sitting out camp. Most of the attention during OTAs has focused on Michael (above in a Bettina Hansen photo) who has drawn consistent raves from coaches. Most interesting was a comment yesterday from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell that Michael has put “some distractions” from last year behind him, saying additionally “he just really needed to focus in on the details of things – footwork, reads, assignments and all those kind of things that he’s really doing right now. He’s really turned the page on last year and we like what we’re seeing right now.” Further proof that the team was never questioning Michael’s talent last year but moreso his readiness for the NFL. Turbin, though, has also had his moments, and Carroll dropped a slight revelation Monday that Turbin had off-season knee surgery to clean up a few lingering issues and looks a little quicker and faster now. It’s unclear yet if there will be a committee approach at tailback, or if there is, how much of one there will be. What does seem apparent is that the team will feel a lot more comfortable about its depth behind Lynch this year than a season ago.
3, OT Justin Britt: Judging linemen in OTAs — when the players are not in pads and no real contact is allowed — is tricky. What can mostly be assess is conditioning, quickness and agility, and handling assignments properly. Within those confines, though, Britt has so far been everything the team hoped he would be when it took what was regarded by many draft analysts as something of a reach to select him in the second round. Said Bevell Monday: “He’s another guy that’s been really smart. He’s been on the details. It’s been important to him and he looks really good at the position.” Britt is consistently sharing time with Michael Bowie the starting unit at right tackle, a competition that figures to last a while.
4, OG James Carpenter: Unlike those mentioned above, Carpenter is a more proven commodity in that he has 26 starts in three years with the team. For Carpenter, whose status with the team beyond this year is unclear after the Seahawks did not pick up on option on his contract for 2015, what the team wanted to see this off-season is that he is in better shape, which might also mean he could be an every down player in 2014. So far, so good as Carpenter has indeed appeared a little slimmed down, and in the OTAs the media has seen has taken basically every rep with the No. 1 unit at left guard.
5, DL Jesse Williams: Williams is another for whom the first question during the OTAs was showing he was healthy after missing last season with a knee injury. That appeared uncertain when he missed the first day with a laceration. But he has since been a full participant and drew these raves from defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on Monday: “I’m really encouraged with what we’ve seen from Jesse. You can tell how big and strong the guy is just by looking at him. For him to be out here and be pain-free and playing it’s awesome for us. … I know that the guy is incredibly tough and tried to gut it out and play and go as long as he could. But for him to be out here and play with good feet and pain-free it’s been a real nice addition for us. … He’s a little lighter now too, and he looks a little quicker on his feet. That’s one of those things that adds to his foot quickness when you see him in there. … This guy has the flexibility to play our nose (tackle) or our three (technique), so we’ve tried him there this spring and we know he can play a number of spots with us.” Williams is one of a group of young, unproven guys that the Seahawks will need to turn to this season to replace the depth lost with the departures of the likes of Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald. There’s a long way to go, but Williams appears to have taken the necessary first step during OTAs to potentially making an impact this fall.