With training camp in full swing, the Seahawks had their first day of sloppy weather on the practice field Friday afternoon. That didn't stop the fans from filling the berm at VMAC and showing the regular amount of enthusiasm that's always prevalent with the 12th Man.
First impressions from this day of camp were a little unsettling – Zach Miller, Cliff Avril, and Bobby Wagner were among those resting injuries and not practicing. Kam Chancellor was also among the sidelined players, joining the rehabbing Chris Clemons.
The number of absences wasn't all bad news for everyone, though. The majority of the nicked-up players aren't facing anything serious; the worst of which being Clemons coming back from the torn ACL (and not including Percy Harvin as he rehabs from surgery in New York.) Plus, it gave some of the final squad hopefuls a chance to shine with the first-team unit.
So about those guys. Year in and year out, there's always a great "where the hell did this guy come from?" story that emerges from Seahawks training camp. (See: Baldwin, Doug; Williams, Mike.) Nobody could've predicted the impact Baldwin would've had on this team two years ago, and some players are already starting to emerge as dark horse favorites to win a spot on the final 53-man roster. Judging by the performances I saw in yesterday's "mock game" (basically, scrimmage), I have my eye on a few guys who might be our new "come out of nowhere" favorites –
Bryan Walters, WR – It surprised me to see Walters is going into his fourth year as an NFL receiver. He last appeared in 2011 for the Chargers, catching only three passes for 27 yards. Nothing to get excited about, sure, but the guy is making plays everywhere across the field. He's got the 6-foot frame that the coaching staff loves in receivers, and great hands to boot. He was signed to the Seahawks' practice squad in December 2012. But with such the signing of Early Doucet, this pushes Walters' hopes of making the roster down that much more. He'll compete for every opportunity, though, and that's why the coaching staff likes him.
Phil Bates, WR – Bates first was signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie free agent in April of 2012. Bates made two impressive grabs in yesterday's mock game, one coming late in the game in which he jumped up over coverage to make an impressive Tate-esque catch. Bates' rapport with Russell Wilson is growing stronger by the day, and he's making himself hard to ignore. The receiver battle just might be the most intense in all of camp.
Benson Mayowa, DE – More than one writer has already compared Mayowa's relentless pass-rushing skills to those of Chris Clemons, which is one hell of a compliment for a guy who was brought on the squad just under three months ago. Carroll recently said in a press conference that "he's made some kind of play every day to make us notice him," and that they "don't know what it means yet," but with Clemons and Irvin out for the beginning of the season, Mayowa could provide some solid depth as a rotational LEO or edge rusher.
O'Brien Schofield, DE/OLB – Schofield was signed by the Seahawks just this week after the Cardinals cut him in favor of veteran DE John Abraham. Schofield was on the Hawks' radar in the 2010 draft, but he never really seemed to take off during his three seasons in Arizona. In everything from pass-rush drills to the scrimmage itself yesterday, though, Schofield is playing with a renewed energy and a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder. He looked solid the entire day, and could be a great fill-in behind Cliff Avril at the LEO spot. Plus, the dude has arms that remind me of the power loaders from the "Aliens" movie. Not that he's huge and yellow with giant claws for hands or anything. They're just freaking big.
Jaye Howard, DT – Howard was actually one of the forgotten ones of last season, after having been drafted in the fourth round in 2012. He played under Dan Quinn's tutelage in Florida, so his familiarity with Quinn's philosophy is going to give him a mental edge right off the bat. Howard was a healthy scratch for most of 2012, though, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing – this D-line is stacked, and Howard adds value as a Red Bryant-esque run stuffer in the middle.