We’ll start with Quinn, who began by talking about what was easily the play of the day, a leaping, one-handed interception by Malcolm Smith, who returned the Tarvaris Jackson pass for a touchdown.
Making the play all the more impressive was the fact that this was only Smith’s second practice, and first full one, since returning to action Monday.
“That was a terrific play by him going up and getting the ball,” Quinn said. “It’s awesome to have him back out here. One of the things Malcolm brings to us is that speed and athletic ability, that showed today on the interception he had. That’s a typical play for Malcolm. In nickel, that’s where he can be a real factor.”
Pointing out Smith’s ability in the nickel package could provide some insight into how the Seahawks could find snaps for the Super Bowl MVP. Smith figures to be Seattle’s fourth linebacker when everyone is healthy behind Bruce Irvin, KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner, but it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks not finding some way to get Smith on the field on defense at times.
--On linebacker as a position group, Quinn said, “I think we feel pretty strong. It was a good group going into camp, then we had some injuries, and what an opportunity for guys who may not have gotten the same amount of reps, like a hidden blessing for some of these guys to say, ‘Here’s my opp and I’m going for it.’.. It’s a really competitive group.”
--Asked about defensive line depth, Quinn singled out the play of O’Brien Schofield, saying the pass rusher is, “somebody who’s stood out to me in training camp and through the first two preseason games. He’s improved a lot as a rusher through this offseason, through training camp, and we can all feel when a guy’s going for it, and I think that’s true with O.B. in this training camp.”
Schofield, of course, thought he’d signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the New York Giants in free agency, only to have that deal fall through on a failed physical. Once that happened, the Seahawks quickly looked into bringing Schofield back, though that deal didn’t get done until May. The Seahawks brought Schofield back this time around to purely play the “Leo” end position, whereas last year he played that spot and strongside linebacker.
“Once it went through, the recruiting process was full-on from our end,” Quinn said. “He really wanted an opportunity to come and show he can rush. Last year we kind of used him at Sam and at Leo, and this year we’ve made him exclusively a Leo.”
Quinn also noted that it has benefited Schofield being here from the start of camp, unlike last year when he opened camp with Arizona before being released by the Cardinals.
--On the use of Tony McDaniel as a defensive end in Seattle’s “heavy” base defense (the more common base look this season has had McDaniel and Brandon Mebane at tackle and Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett at end) Quinn said it’s all about having flexibility to handle different opponents.
“Some of the teams, we’re going to need to play bigger, and in those games, we’d feature more big guys, and there’s other games where nickel would be a bigger part of the package,” Quinn said. “That’s why we really preach versatility as often as we can to know in games where we need to have rushers available, we’ll do that, and for games against teams that are more power-oriented and really strong run game, we’ll need big guys in there to anchor it down. Tony’s somebody who had has history playing defensive end before coming here.”
--Asked about Jordan Hill, who is looking to establish himself as an interior rusher in nickel packages, Quinn said the second-year DT has “Definitely has gotten stronger. I think he was set back by some of the injuries he had last year. We’re counting on Jordan, can he be a factor in this nickel group, that’s where we’re looking at him first. That competition is still underway inside, and it may take us a few more games to figure that out, but he’s certainly in the mix with hose guys. We’ve been pleased with him so far.”
--For the second straight day, tempers flared a bit and players had to be separated—though neither incident was a full-fledged fight.
“We certainly don’t want them to, but it’s a really competitive, heightened time when guys are really going for it—‘I want to show I belong on this thing,’” Quinn said.
“That’s our job as coaches to get that handled as best we can. Really we want to know what we’re competing for. At the end of it, it’s how good we can make each other by how hard we go against each other. Sometimes that line can get crossed, but knowing what we’re competing for is to see how good we can get. That’s what the message here at practice is all about. At times the flare-ups may happen, and it’s our job to control those as quickly as we can.”
On to the offensive side of the ball and Darrell Bevell…
--On Robert Turbin, who had a big preseason game, Bevell said, “I see a lot of good things out of him. The best part of it is that his long run didn’t get called back, that happened a lot last year.”
--On Percy Harvin’s explosiveness: “I’ve seen it for a long time, and I love it. I’m glad he’s on our side… You can definitely feel it on the field.”
--On what he wants to see from his offense in preseason game No. 3: “I just want to continue to see us be consistent. We made a nice jump from the first game to the second game, we played pretty well offensively. We just want to continue to be able to progress and continue to just play consistent ball. We were able to hold on to the ball, we were able to convert on third down, we were able to do a nice job in the red zone, but that’s just one game. We need to be able to do it on a consistent basis.”
Bevell also noted that it will “be a huge bonus” to have all of the offensive line back after Max Unger and Russell Okung missed the first two preseason games.
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