I went to tonight's training camp at Husky Stadium and again had a pretty good time. A lot of things jumped out at me, so I won't waste time.This post will focus on the offense; I'll get a post on the defense up tomorrow morning (it's late!). Thanks to DSA Hawker for giving me the formatting ideas, ha ha. Here are a few beginning notes:
- Cory Redding sat out this practice, as did Will Herring, D.D. Lewis, Michael Bennett, Chris Spencer and Walter Jones. Deion Branch was back and looked fine coming in and out of his breaks.
- It's been said a hundred times, but Cory Redding is just an enormous human being. He was standing next to D.D. Lewis and made Lewis look like Josh Wilson. The funny thing is seeing Cory Redding looking small next to Red Bryant.
- The offensive line is very concerning. There, I said it. More on the o-line later.
- One thing that is becoming clear watching practice is that the Seahawks plan to use shotgun formations much more than they have in the last ten years. This is very good news, I think, especially with the porous offensive line. It might well take some time for the Hawks and Matt to get fully comfortable in the gun, but remember that it was Hasselbeck who pushed to get the "Rifle" (basically a, uh, sawed-off shotgun?) formation into the offense in 2007 with much success.
Justin Forsett looked good in run drills and excellent in pass drills. Forsett made at least two nice catches down the sidelines today; despite his small stature, Forsett has the quick feet and strong upper body to break free down a sideline from time to time.
If the season started today, I would expect Justin Griffith to be the starting fullback. Griffith looked very good in blitz pickup today in the 11 on 11 drills, made a number of nice catches, and ran well when given the shot. That blocking is where his bread is buttered, and Griffith understands entirely his role in Greg Knapp's offense. It's not a knock on Owen Schmitt, but I would feel more comfortable with Griffith right now until Schmitt can better learn his role in this offense. That could be before the season starts, mind, but if not I am hoping we don't push him out there.
Julius Jones had a stupid fumble today. Other than that, he doesn't really seem to do a ton wrong, but doesn't do a whole lot to impress either. It doesn't look like they're really trying to get him too involved, but I have trouble believing that's the case. It's likely just been a coincidence that he hasn't been too involved in the two practices I've attended.
T.J. Duckett looks ready to emerge as a solid contributor on this team, and not just in red zone situations. Duckett has looked great running the ball. At one point today he slammed right up the middle, picking the right hole and not hesitating a bit. The defense hesitated as Duckett got his full steam up, and he ended up running for about 20 yards before being touched. Nice. I can't stress enough that Duckett's body is almost identical to Leroy Hill's.
Owen Schmitt has better hands than one would likely expect from him, but like I said before, his blocking wasn't top knotch. One thing I can say about him though is he loves to hit. He needs to use that instinct more in his actual blocking, but if he's in the open field you'd better be a tough mofo if you want to tackle him.
John Carlson is excellent. Does this kid even need to practice? I know he works hard, I know he does, but everything looks so effortless, he is always where he's supposed to be and his hands are like glue.
Cameron Morrah had just a boneheaded drop. He was maybe 5-7 yards from Seneca in 7 on 7 drills (no linemen, aka no sight obstruction), the pass hit Morrah right between the numbers and just dropped. We drafted Morrah for his production at Cal, but he needs to make the team based on his production in camp. Will he make the team?
Joe Newton has been trying to make the team for a couple of years now, but unfortunately I don't think its in the cards. Newton has excellent height for a tight end, but he has no lower body size at all, none. When you're 6'7" and have pepperoni sticks for legs, you aren't ever going to get leverage against a defensive end. Unfortunately, Newton's hands aren't as good as the WRs who we're going to end up cutting so he doesn't win a roster spot that way either.
John Tereshinski looked just fine today. He catches the ball when it comes to him and he seems to block well. He's nothing special at this point, but he's solid and has respectable hands. If I had to handicap the race right now between Morrah, Newton, and Tereshinski for the 3rd TE spot, I give it to the Demon Deacon.
Logan Payne didn't look very good today. He had a couple of drops and just doesn't look like the guy we were promised in camp last year. If you've been reading for awhile, you know that Payne has long been one of my favorites out of the "Unknowns," but seeing him today and last week, I just don't think he's up to the task of making a roster spot this year.
Mike Hass is the one who takes Payne's spot. Hass looked great today, catching everything near him. There was one throw in particular by Jeff Rowe where Hass adjusted to the throw, leapt up and grabbed it, landing with his feet just barely in bounds on his tippy toes. He got some cheers for that one, well deserved anytime you catch a Jeff Rowe throw.
Courtney Taylor also continues to look very good. He caught two touchdown passes including a beautiful one in the corner of the endzone on a nice touch pass from Seneca from about 15 yards out. The next was a little slant inside in a goalline offense. The Hawks went four-wide with an empty backfield in the goalline offense... I love it!
Ben Obamanu is doing a fantastic job of reminding everyone why he was the favorite to get real playing time in 2008 before he broke his shoulder. He looks very good in every aspect of the game. Great hands, good feet, a decent block or two, and crisp routes.
TJ Houshmandzadeh Okay, fine, I'll talk about Housh. He continues to look fantastic, including the Play of the Day: Housh was running down the right sidelines looking like he was going deep, then at about 15-18 yards out he just absolutely used Ken Lucas with a little cut and stop. Lucas is suddenly 7 yards downfield as Housh turns around and the ball is right there on a line from Hasselbeck. Beee-yooo-tah-ful.
The other WRs were all fine, including a nice catch by Bumpus and another by McMullen. For the most part though, nothing remarkable.
The line without Walter Jones or Chris Spencer is not good enough for this league, at least, not as of today. If you're not concerned about the o-line yet, you might want to start. Spencer's health is important, though perhaps not crucial with Unger and Vallos both appearing to be solid players. I like Vallos, but I'm still not sold on him as a starting NFL center. Without Walter Jones, the whole line looks much worse. With those two appearing so fragile, don't be shocked to see the Hawks look around for a free agent or two to try out.
Max Unger looked good snapping the ball and appeared a little better than Vallos in holding off the monsters on the d-line. However, that could be because Vallos was battling Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane rather than Craig Terrill and Red Bryant. I love all four, but let's be honest here: who would you look better against?
Steve Vallos he looked fine snapping, but did not appear to get up quickly enough to hold off the defensive line rush. Again, this could be due to the competition being faced. I'd love to see Unger and Vallos switch first and second team for a practice to see how they look against the other guys.
Grey Ruegamer if he's good enough to castrate lambs with his teeth, he should be good enough to snap a ball to our guys. I didn't get a look at him, but he has a lot of experience as a center in his long career, and I hope we at least give him a shot here.
Jeff Rowe he's an extra arm, but thats about it at this point.
Mike Teel won't be ready to start this year, but I like how he looks. His throws are too soft, too slow. There isn't anything flashy to Teel, but there doesn't need to be. He won games at Rutgers and helped turn that program around, and I trust he can win at the next level eventually. If he ever gets into a game this year though, we're already screwed.
Seneca Wallace was throwing a nice ball today, but seemed to mix up his guys once or twice and just throw an errant ball. He looks very natural rolling out and using his feet a bit more than he did under Holmgren's offense.
Matt Hasselbeck continues to look solid. He's the best QB on this team by a long stretch, so long as he's healthy. He threw one just absolutely terrible throw and knew it, yelling loudly at whoever could hear it. There was another throw that was not sharp at all but Housh made a great leaping catch over the DB to pull it in.