By John Boyle
It didn’t take long for the first padded practice of training camp to get popping, so to speak. Early in running drills, rookie fullback/fire hydrant Kiero Small put a thumping block on fellow rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis. Not long after, Cassius Marsh, who has been very impressive so far, had a welcome-to-the-NFL moment when guard James Carpenter caught Marsh off balance and launched the rookie backwards in the air. The first week of camp is a long ways away from a game, but it was just another example of why the Seahawks have high hopes for a slimmed down Carpenter, who has looked very good in offseason workouts and now the start of camp.
“It was great to get out there and see some football,” Pete Carroll said of the first padded practice. “It’s a long haul before you get back to this time. I can’t wait to see the film, see the new guys most of all. It looked pretty good, the offense did a nice job today, they did a nice job coming off the ball—I think the defense was a little bit tentative first day out, trying to feel the tempo, and offense took advantage of that.
“Every snap counts out here, every one of them there’s something they’ll draw from. Really the new guys need to know they’re in the NFL and they’re going against real, live NFL football players and see what that’s all about. We see how they react, then we’ll grow. This is just the first mark, a lot will change from this point, but it’s a great start for us.”
A few other observations…
—Third-year receiver Phil Bates has a tough battle to earn a roster spot, but he’s enjoyed a solid camp thus far, and was a standout on Sunday, making a few nice catches, most notably a toe-tapping touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone.
—Byron Maxwell is probably getting tired of Doug Baldwin. For the third time in as many days, Baldwin beat Maxwell on a deep ball, though this time it was in one-on-one drills and not the team portion of practice.
—Jon Ryan got to throw a pass on a trick play, and punters throwing is always a good time, but unfortunately for Ryan, his pass attempt was broken up by DeShawn Shead.
—Speaking of Shead, the third-year defensive back out of Portland State is making a push for the backup free safety job behind Earl Thomas. If Shead can hold his own at that spot, that would be an ideal use of a roster spot for the Seahawks because Shead can also play strong safety—he briefly replaced Kam Chancellor in the Super Bowl at that spot when Chancellor injured his leg on kick coverage—as well as cornerback, his listed position. And if you think I brought up a punter pass just to segue into this note on Shead, well, guilty as charged.
—For some odd reason, Russell Wilson tried to test Richard Sherman with a fade route. After the All-Pro broke up a couple of passes Wilson threw his way Friday, he did it again Sunday when Wilson tried to find Arceto Clark down the sideline.
Asked why Wilson keeps testing him, Sherman said, “I don’t know. I wish I could tell you. It’s fun.”
—Considering that Michael Bennett, who wasn’t technically a starter, played the most snaps of any Seahawks defensive lineman last year, it’s probably not worth getting too caught up in analyzing who the starters are in the base D. But early on, it is worth noting that that Seahawks could end up essentially having two different “base” defensive lines. The one we’ve seen most of features Bennett and Cliff Avril and end and Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane at tackle, a lighter look from last year’s base D which had Red Bryant as a starting end. But the Seahawks are also using a base look with both McDaniel and Kevin Williams, with one at tackle and one at end (they’ve both seen times at both spots). This would give Seattle a “heavy” base D similar to what they used last year, and it could be that they change their base look depending on the opponent. For example, against a team that throws more, like, say, Denver, Bennett and Avril at end would make more sense, whereas Seattle might prefer to have McDaniel or Williams at end against a more physical running team like San Francisco.