By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Pete Carroll’s first training camp as the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach wrapped up Thursday.
The work, however, has just begun.
A team that won just nine games the past two seasons doesn’t fix things overnight — or in a three-week training camp for that matter. But with three preseason games remaining, including a home game tonight against Green Bay, there is a lot Carroll wants his team to accomplish before the games start counting next month.
“Oh, there’s everything,” Carroll said when asked what the team still needs to work on. “Every aspect of it. … Scheme-wise we’re still fitting things together to match up with our strengths of our personnel, on defense in particular. So there’s just a lot of stuff that’s going to come together and it’s going to be a work in progress and ongoing for sure.”
After last weekend’s preseason opener, a 20-18 win over Tennessee, one area of concern that Carroll singled out is the run game. The hope is that a new left side of the line, including first-round pick Russell Okung, as well as the addition of renowned line coach Alex Gibbs, will lead to a big improvement for a team that ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing last season. But in Seattle’s first preseason game, the offense averaged just 3.1 yards per carry, and had to revert to the pass more than offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates would have liked.
“We’d like to be fifty-fifty and we’ll say that the rest of the year,” Bates said of his team’s pass-heavy attack in the first preseason game. “It’s the philosophy of the zone offense. But, according to the game, you just have to (react to) what’s happening.”
One difference in the run game will be the debut of running back Leon Washington. Washington, who came to Seattle in a draft-weekend trade with the New York Jets, suffered a tibia/fibula compound fracture last October, and while he has been able to practice, he was held out of the preseason opener. The dynamic back should be involved in the offense tonight.
“We’re really excited about Leon playing this week,” Carroll said. “He’s had terrific preparation for it. He’s been banged around plenty of times here, been knocked off his feet, and been tackled times out here. … I’d like to see him get a good dose of plays out there so he gets comfortable with his football.
“We’re not going to overdo it, but we certainly want to see what he can do right at this stage. Then we’ll re-evaluate and see where we are.”
And tonight’s game will provide a better glimpse of what the running game, as well as the rest of team, can accomplish. The starters, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, will see substantially more playing time than they did last weekend, giving a better glimpse at what the Seahawks might look like in the regular season.
“Our guys will play more in this game,” Carroll said. “The first group guys will get more extensive work. So, that means the guys that are fighting for positions have really got to make something of their time when they get their opportunities in the second half. And it’ll go like that through next week as well.”
Of course, the preseason ultimately indicates only so much. Last year’s Seahawks, a team that finished 5-11, went 4-0 in the preseason. So while tonight’s game can help Carroll and his coaching staff determine where the team stands, the ultimate test is still a few weeks away.
Are the new-look Seahawks ready? Tonight’s game might provide a glimpse, but only time, and the regular season, will tell.
“We’ll find out,” said receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. “Last year we went undefeated in the preseason, so the regular season is a different animal. We’ll find out soon enough.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog