Training Camp Digest (8/1): Return of the Husky

First off, some good news for you University of Washington fans: undrafted free agent wide receiver and ex-Husky Jermaine Kearse was activated off the physically unable to play list today, allowing him to participate in his first Seahawks practice.  I haven’t seen any mention of how well he did out there, but last I checked getting on to the field is a step up from standing on the sideline.

Two names remain on Seattle’s PUP list, T James Carpenter and CB Walter Thurmond, but neither of them is expected to return anytime soon.  Both have been slow to recover from knee injuries suffered last season.

Four other players were held out of practice with various ailments: CB Ron Parker, TE Anthony McCoy, MLB Matt McCoy, and TE/LB/DE/who-the-hell-knows Jameson Konz.

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Matt Flynn got the majority of the snaps at QB today, followed by Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson, but all three struggled against the defense today, especially in red zone drills.  Flynn looked decent, but according to Eric Williams his lack of arm strength was a problem in the red zone where he was unable to quickly sling the ball through some tight windows.

Danny Kelly of Field Gulls, who was also on hand for this practice, reports that Wilson looked to have the best day of the three.  Height notwithstanding, Wilson is the most athletic specimen of the three, and his mobility and ability to improvise on the run were on full display today.

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The quarterbacks’ struggles may not be entirely their fault, as the wide receiving corps had an off day.  Golden Tate and Ricardo Lockette both had some bad drops, with Lockette compounding his (a sure-fire TD if he’d been able to hold on) by yanking off his helmet and slamming it to the turf.  Here’s hoping that temper tantrum was an anomaly and not the first of many to come.

Brock Huard also expressed some concerns about the receivers in his Brock and Salk wrap-up video today, namely that they aren’t pushing the defense like they should.  He mentioned some possible explanations, namely that the best receiver on the team, Sidney Rice, is still not full-go in practices and his absence is hurting the rest of the group, and it’s also possible that the WRs are only doing poorly because the defensive secondary is just that good.  Whatever the reason, receiver is going to be a cause for concern until they prove otherwise.

That being said, Phil Bates and Kris Durham had the best performances of the group today.  That’s great news for Durham, who up until now has looked more like a roster cut in the making than the dependable, big-bodied possession receiver he was drafted to be.  Bates, on the other hand, has been getting almost nothing but glowing reviews.  He’s a natural route-runner with soft hands who, in Kelly’s words, is “[a]lways balanced, can bounce off contact, explosive and jerky.”

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Elsewhere on the offense, Robert Turbin is still drawing plenty of applause for his hard running.  On one play, according to Danny O’Neil, Turbin knocked over Red Bryant.  And for extra style points, Turbin was spinning around at the time of the collision.  The guy is proving to have some serious pop in his pads, and I can’t wait to see what he can do when he’s pitted against another team’s defense instead of his own teammates.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is doing some interesting things with two tight end sets.  On many plays, he flexed one or both TEs out wide, or lined them up in the backfield as H-Backs.  Kelly reports that TEs Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet, both longshots to make the roster, were involved in several such plays.  Meanwhile, Kellen Winslow, Jr. reminded everyone why he was a first round pick by making plays all over the field.

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As per usual, the defense spent the afternoon kicking ass and taking names.  Brandon Browner had a great practice, mugging wideouts at the line, deflecting passes, and generally making a Pro Bowl-sized nuisance of himself.

CB Byron Maxwell, who has been rehabbing an ankle injury that limited his playing time last season, is starting to return to form.  He’s doing well as a gunner on special teams and he’s been solid in coverage.  If he keeps this up, Maxwell could end up in the mix for the nickel back spot, where Roy Lewis and Marcus Trufant are currently competing.

With knee injuries limiting Matt McCoy and Barrett Ruud’s participation in practices, special teams ace Heath Farwell has been getting some reps at middle linebacker.  And by the sound of things, he’s looking good out there – good news for him, not so good for Ruud and McCoy.

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Kelly’s report also included two names that I hadn’t seen before in anyone’s camp reports, CB DeShawn Shead and LB Kyle Knox.  Both apparently looked good in practice today; assuming they can keep that up and make a few plays in the preseason, Shead and Knox might have legitimate shots at making the team as backups/special teams players.

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Also of note are some observations made by NW Sports Beat’s Brett Bivens, who came away impressed by Bruce Irvin’s work ethic.  According to Bivens, Irvin never took a play or drill off, coming hard all day at linemen & tackling dummies alike.  Backup DL Pep Levingston also made an impression with his athleticism and speed; the late-round pick from last year still needs work on his technique, but his development appears to be coming along nicely.

After practice, several veteran Seahawks stayed late to mentor newcomers to the team.  Bivens reported seeing Red Bryant working with Jason Jones, Breno Giacomini with JR Sweezy, and KJ Wright with Bobby Wagner.  In short, team cohesiveness is looking good.

 

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