Training Camp Digest: Braylon Edwards Replaces a Kicker and Other Updates

Life is good.  Players are hard at work on the practice fields, live Seahawks football will return to our televisions in a matter of days, the weather is perfect for barbecuing meat to perfection over hot coals1, and the training camp news from the VMAC is both encouraging and abundant.  Maybe even too abundant – with reports coming in daily from the Seattle Times, the Tacoma News Tribune, Hawk Blogger, Field Gulls, and half a dozen other sources, keeping abreast of all the latest transactions and goings-on is almost a full-time job.

But since we like you people, Seahawk Addicts will take care of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. Fom now until the beginning of the regular season, we’ll comb the internet for all the latest camp tidbits and collect them all into one post every day or so for your reading enjoyment.  We’ll still be posting quick updates on anything particularly noteworthy or exciting that happens both here and on our Facebook page, but you can look to our camp digests for the lion’s share of the info.

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Braylon Edwards was signed by the Seahawks today, who released kicker Carson Wiggs to clear a spot for him on the roster.  Edwards became the second veteran wide receiver in the last week to sign a one-year contract with the team, the other being Antonio Bryant.  Edwards and Bryant are both former high-round draft picks who have had reasonably solid careers, but neither player has consistently performed to their full potential.  Here’s a side-by-side look at their career stat lines:

Name Games Starts Rec Yards Yds/Rec TDs Rec/G Yds/G
Braylon Edwards 99 89 341 5323 15.6 39 3.4 53.8
Antonio Bryant 106 82 372 5685 15.3 30 3.5 53.6

It’s important to note that there’s a very real possibility that one or both of them won’t make the 53-man roster, and even if they do there’s no guarantee that their performance and/or behavior will keep them there.  Both have reputations for being difficult personalities, and while Carroll has a knack for bringing out the best in his players, he’s also not shy about cutting guys who cause more trouble than they’re worth.  He wouldn’t be the first head coach to do so: including the Seahawks, Edwards has now played for four different NFL teams, and Bryant has played for five (six, if you count the offseason he spent in 2010 with the Bengals).

But egos aside, the biggest question marks for Edwards are his health and his hands.  His poor showing for the 49ers in 2011 was roughly two-thirds knee injury and one-third being a poor fit in the offense Harbaugh designed from the ground up to minimize Alex Smith’s prodigious talent for failure.  Whether or not he starts becomes a regular on the Did Not Participate list should give us a good idea of how much his knee is still an issue, which leaves his reputation for drops.

According to Pro Football Focus, of all the WRs who were targeted with at least 50 catchable passes between 2008 and 2010, Edwards was dead last in drop rate with 14.72% (29 drops in 197 targets).  However, that same article also points out that Edwards appears to have improved on that front, as his drop rate for just the 2010 season was a far more acceptable 6.06% (4 drops in 66 targets), good for twelfth best in the league.

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Speaking of wideouts, several receivers in camp have been earning glowing reviews, especially holdovers Deon Butler, Golden Tate, and Ricardo Lockette, undrafted free agent Phil Bates, and just plain free agent Charly Martin.

Butler is looking as fast as ever and seems to be dropping fewer balls than in seasons past.  He doesn’t appear to be pushing for a starting job, but is definitely in the early running for one of the last couple roster spots.  He also has the benefit of being cheap: 2012 is the final year of his rookie contract.

Tate always looks good in training camp, so that’s hardly news.  What is newsworthy, however, is his attitude.  As Eric Williams in particular noted, Tate is not celebrating like has in seasons past whenever he makes a play.  This time around, “Tate is taking a Barry Sanders approach to big plays – hand the ball back to the ref and jog back to the huddle. So there appears to be an expectation to make thes kinds of plays on a regular basis.”  And since I brought up drops earlier, I suppose I should mention that Golden Tate’s drop rate for 2011 was a whopping 0%, good for best in the league.  (compare that to Ben Obomanu, who was 86th in the league with a 17.78% drop rate).

Of all the receivers on Seattle’s roster, nobody has had more buzz going for him this offseason than Lockette the Rocket, which is a whole lot of hope to hang on just two career catches.  But now that we’re a few days into camp, it’s starting to look like that optimism was justified.  By all accounts, Lockette is blowing away the competition, making diving catches, winning jump balls, and out-running everyone to the end zone.

Martin and Bates aren’t exactly household names, but both are playing well enough to at least make the practice squad this year (note: Martin may be out of practice squad eligibility).  They’ve been catching everything thrown their way, which I hear is a pretty good quality to have in a wide receiver.

One guy who doesn’t seem to be impressing anyone is 2011 fourth-rounder Kris Durham.  Hawk Blogger in particular has been reporting that Durham looks too slow and drops far too many passes.  For his sake, here’s hoping that he just needs a few days to get up to speed. 

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On the tight end front, Kellen Winslow, Jr. is as talented as advertised.  He’ll be making regular appearances on the DNP list, but that’s by design.  Carroll and his staff are limiting his reps to minimize the chances of re-injuring his balky knee.

Cameron Morrah, one of the last remaining members of Tim Ruskell’s final crop of draft picks, is turning heads with his receiving abilities.  It’s looking like he may end up on the roster more or less as Winslow’s understudy.

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So far, the defensive line is just sounding better and better with every new report that comes in.  Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, and Red Bryant are playing as well as ever, and most of the new additions appear to have a whole lot to offer in the pass-rush department.

At defensive tackle, ex-Titan Jason Jones and new draft pick Jaye Howard have been knifing into the backfield with satisfying regularity, which is something the Seahawks haven’t gotten from the 3-tech position since Rocky Bernard was in his prime.

At defensive end, Bruce Irvin is playing well enough to make the Seahawks look like geniuses for picking him in the first round.  Dexter Davis has also been making plays, but we already knew he could do that — the real question for him is whether he can manage to stay healthy for once.  As a bonus, late round pick Gregg Scruggs and UFA Cordarro Law have also been flashing some decent pass-rush ability.  Can anyone remember the last time the Seahawks had any sort of real depth at DE?

It would seem that life is going to get very interesting for QBs in the NFC West2.

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The starting offensive line for this season is shaping up to be Russell Okung at left tackle, Paul McQuistan at left guard, Max Unger at center, John Moffitt at right guard, and Breno Giacomini at right tackle.  The least settled of those five positions is left guard, where Deuce Lutui has a legitimate shot at unseating McQuistan.  Lutui has been getting reps with the first team at right guard, but only because they want to give Moffitt some experience at center with the second team.  It’ll be interesting to see what that means for current backup center/guard Lemuel Jeanpierre.

The injury news for last year’s first round pick James Carpenter is still not good, and he could end up missing the 2012 season.  But whenever he comes back, it’s sounding like he won’t be taking back his old job.  Instead, both Carroll and Schneider have gone on the record as saying that Carpenter will likely be moved inside to left guard.  Yes, he was drafted to play tackle, but that was with the understanding that he might end up being a better fit at guard.  Carpenter is a great physical specimen, but he struggled greatly in pass protection last season against speed rushers off the edge; moving him to guard would allow him to make full use of his power without asking him to cover such a wide radius.

Tom Cable’s pet project JR Sweezy, who is attempting to convert from defensive tackle to offensive lineman, is coming along nicely.  At one point on Sunday, Sweezy was able to stop Mebane in his tracks.  Granted, Mebane apparently kicked his ass on the very next play, but it’s impressive that Sweezy was able to do that even once.

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I don’t know if you guys have heard yet, but apparently the Seahawks are having some sort of three-way competition for the starting QB gig.  Who knew?

So far, Matt Flynn appears to be the front runner for the job.  From all descriptions, he sounds like a Matt Hasselbeck clone.  He doesn’t have the strongest arm around, but his accuracy and touch are superb, he makes good decisions with the ball and shows great anticipation, and he’s got just enough gunslinger in him to go for big plays without taking stupid risks.

Tarvaris Jackson is still Tarvaris Jackson.  Great arm strength and plenty of grit and determination, but his accuracy runs hot and cold and he still has a tendency to freeze up and wait to get sacked.

Russell Wilson is making plenty of rookie mistakes, but at the same time he’s been the best of the three at making something happen when a play breaks down and excels at throwing on the run.  His height also hasn’t been much of a problem, and he’s done plenty to show that he’s capable of succeeding at the NFL level.

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Cornerbacks Coye Francies and Jeremy Lane and safety Winston Guy have been getting some praise for their abilities in coverage.  The praise is scattered and vague enough that I’m not sure how much stock to put in it just yet, but it’s a positive sign for Seattle’s depth at the secondary positions.

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Aside from some mentions of K.J. Wright blowing up the running backs and Bobby Wagner flashing some ability in pass coverage, there hasn’t been much said about the linebackers to date.

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I think it’s safe to add Robert Turbin’s name to the ever-growing list of Seahawks who appear to be living up to their hype.  He’s running hard, catching passes, and generally playing like a guy whom opposing linebackers are going to hate tackling.

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1 As long as I’m thinking about it, one of my favorite cuts to grill is a boneless country-style pork rib, seasoned with one of these two rubs:

Dry Rub

3 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp thyme
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Wet Rub (this one really needs to soak in for a few hours before grilling, preferably overnight):

2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp ginger (minced or grated)
2 Tbsp garlic (minced)
4 Tbsp vegetable oil (something flavorless, i.e. not olive oil)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp five spice powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper

You’re welcome.

2 And by interesting I mean terrifying and painful.