Continuing what is becoming a tradition, here are five impressions from today’s Seahawks mini-camp from beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
1, Kevin Williams, the recently signed defensive tackle (above in a Bettina Hansen photo), was in camp and practiced with the Seahawks for the first time. Williams has been one of the game’s most consistent defensive tackles in the last decade, but he’s 33 and had his least productive season in Minnesota a year ago. Williams practiced mostly with the second-team defensive unit and lined next to Greg Scruggs at defensive tackle. Williams could give Seattle’s young backup defensive lineman some leadership and stability, but it’s not guaranteed that he will earn a spot on the roster just because of his pedigree (cornerback Antoine Winfield taught us that lesson a year ago).
2, Cassius Marsh, the fourth-round defensive tackle from UCLA, returned to the Seahawks after missing organized team activities while finishing classes. It was Marsh’s first time practicing with the “varsity” — he participated in rookie mini camp in May — before returning to UCLA. The Seahawks see Marsh as potentially filling the same role as versatile defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who plays inside and outside. I noticed Marsh lining up a lot inside in nickel situations. It’s early, but that seems a very plausible role for Marsh.
3, Player of the day: Paul Richardson, wide receiver. This is totally subjective, of course, and I might be picking Richardson because I spent most of my time watching him. But Richardson, who has missed time this offseason because of minor injuries, showed the speed that made him coveted. He was able to free himself from starting cornerback Byron Maxwell over the middle for a catch, then came back a few plays later, found an opening in the middle of a zone and hauled in a pass from Russell Wilson. His burst really stands out, even to the untrained eye.
4, Afterwards, Pete Carroll praised cornerback Tharold Simon, who drew a lot of attention after having a solid final day of organized team activities. Last week, Simon hauled in an interception on a deep pass by perfectly timing his jump and slipping in front of the wide receiver. He did the same thing again on a pass down the field intended for Ricardo Lockette. He’s shown an instinct for being able to time his jumps and control his body in the air without interfering with receivers. You could hear coaches picking apart his mistakes again — he’s basically a rookie after not playing at all last year —but the Seahawks like his ability.
5, From the miscellaneous category: You might have heard that offensive tackle Russell Okung jumped into the batting cage before the Mariners-Yankees game last week and took a swing. At the time I tweeted something about how calling that a “swing” might be generous. Okung filled in the rest of the story: He said he had never played baseball before and told Yankees manager Joe Girardi that. Girardi told him he didn’t think Okung would be able to even make contact, so Okung stepped in the cage and took one swing. He made contact and the ball dribbled up the first-base line. It was funny looking, but more impressive than it looked considering Okung had never played baseball.
And from Condotta:
1, First off, a quick roll call. As noted in the earlier blog, Marshawn Lynch was here today but didn’t participate. Also here but not taking part due to injuries were Okung, Sidney Rice, Heath Farwell, Malcolm Smith, Kam Chancellor and Bruce Irvin (who is back in Seattle after rehabbing out of the area initially following his surgery). Also out for just about everything today was WR Chris Matthews, who continues to be bothered by a hamstring injury. Word is Matthews did well when healthy during OTAs not visible to the media and sounds like they are being cautious with him to get him to training camp healthy. Everyone else on the roster was here and participated.
2, The story of the first day of OTAs was Carroll’s proclamation that Earl Thomas could be the starting punt returner. So I thought I’d look at the punt return drills and see if there were any clues today. Thomas was again working with the punt returners today, but it was a fairly large group. Also in that drill were Percy Harvin, Bryan Walters, Richard Sherman, A.J. Jefferson and Doug Baldwin. So for now, it appears still a pretty competitive situation.
3, Speaking of Rice, while he did not participate, he was out there moving around. During some of the individual WR drills, he shadowed the receivers as a cornerback, not really fully defending them but acting as something of a defender, doing some backpedaling and moving laterally. Carroll has said on a few occasions that Rice has a chance to be ready for training camp and he seems to be moving pretty well. If so, it will only add to a receiving corps that every day shows that it will be as deep and competitive as any unit on the team, and potentially much improved from a season ago. Jayson mentioned Richardson, who had a nice day. I also think Lockette is having a nice camp — he had a couple good grabs today, including one leaping catch over the middle in front of Simon. Kevin Norwood has also been a standout, though he was being looked at early today for something with his leg — didn’t appear serious as he came back later. As stated here before but worth repeating, the battle for the last WR spots will be as intense as any on the roster.
4, A couple of quick lineup notes — Jeron Johnson continues to run as the starting strong safety with Chancellor out. And Mike Morgan and Korey Toomer appeared today to share the starting strongside linebacker spot with Smith and Irvin out. No other changes to the defense, though. Offensively, no real changes there, either, with the first- and second-team offensive lines looking the same as they did throughout OTAs. Darrell Bevell mentioned during OTAs that Alvin Bailey needs to lose a little weight. But he continues to run with the starting unit at LT with Okung out. And Jayson mentioned Williams — there was no hesitancy to get him out there as he was on the field quite a bit. As Carroll noted, one thing they are looking to do with Williams is play him as a three-technique tackle and slide Tony McDaniel to end to give the team an especially big DL. I also noted a second-team defensive line where they had Williams, Scruggs and Jordan Hill all together with Benson Mayowa (and speaking of Mayowa, Carroll noted he has put on 12-14 pounds of muscle and looks a little sturdier). Carroll also said that Jesse Williams has had a really good off-season, noting that the battle for the interior DL spots will also be pretty intense.
5, Jayson mentioned Simon, so I won’t copy that other than to say that he was another obvious standout today. A couple other secondary notes: Eric Pinkins continues to work at strong safety; the backup safeties today appeared again to be Dion Bailey and Terrance Parks (though again, with Chancellor out, moving Johnson up to the starting unit). Jeremy Lane continues as the nickelback. When the second nickel took the field, the three CBs were Simon, DeShawn Shead and Phillip Adams as the nickel.