Finally, we can practice

  • By John Boyle Herald Writer
  • Friday, August 5, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

RENTON — Free agents had to wait out a nearly five-month lockout before they could find their new homes. Then after negotiating and signing contracts last week, those free agents had to wait a little longer to start practicing with their new teams.

So on Thursday, fittingly, they waited a li

ttle longer.

Players like quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, receiver Sidney Rice, guard Robert Gallery, and defensive tackle Alan Branch, all of whom signed last week, and tight end Zach Miller, who signed earlier this week, were not allowed to practice until the league’s new collective bargaining agreement was ratified, which all along was expected to happen Thursday. But when the Seahawks took the field at about 1:30 p.m, they had not yet received word that the deal was finalized, meaning the new players could participate. So, the Seahawks waited.

Then they waited some more.

“We though we were being pranked for a minute with everybody just standing out there with their pads on,” Rice said.

While they waited, players went over to greet fans seated on the hill next to the practice field, something they’d normally do after a practice. Others stood around or tossed a ball back and forth. For some reason, receiver Mike Williams worked on his long snapping.

Then, at 2:06 p.m. Pete Carroll was able to gather his team and start its first practice with a handful of new faces, not to mention free agents like Brandon Mebane and Kelly Jennings who had re-signed with Seattle but also had to wait.

“They said, ‘Just put your pads on and come on the field,’ Jackson said. “And I came on the field and just kind of forgot that I was supposed to be on the sideline. But they kind of pulled me off to the side and told me we had to wait for the phone call.

“Then a guy from the Seahawks got the phone call and they were like, ‘No, we still can’t go, we got to get the phone call ourselves.’ So we waited about forty minutes probably, forty-five minutes. And they finally got it done and we were ready to get out here so we could get things done.”

And after a lengthy lockout, plus an extra week of waiting, a 20-minute or so delay wasn’t so bad, the new players said.

“It wasn’t that odd considering what’s happened the last six months,” Miller said. “It wasn’t that surprising to have to wait a few more minutes to go.”

Jackson, who Carroll already has named the starting quarterback, admitted he was a bit rusty in his first practice with the Seahawks. Still, he showed off an impressive arm and an ability to throw on the run, two of the traits that the Seahawks like in the former Minnesota quarterback. Jackson looked particularly comfortable throwing to Rice, his teammate for four seasons with the Vikings.

“I’m kind of familiar with him,” Jackson said. “But the thing about me is I’m just trying to get to know the rest of the guys and try to get more comfortable with them so they can get more comfortable with me so we can be on the same page and we can get this offense clicking and work.”

The biggest problem Jackson had in his first practice was taking snaps from a new center. Jackson fumbled a few snaps, including one three-play sequence when he fumbled a snap, then a handoff exchange, then another snap. He also was intercepted once, throwing a pass that was intended for tight end John Carlson, but the ball instead hit off linebacker Aaron Curry before being hauled in by safety Kam Chancellor.

“I felt a little rusty,” Jackson said. “I had some throws that I missed. … But overall, it wasn’t a bad day. But we had a couple miscues on offense as far as the snap count and guys getting off and stuff like that. We’re going to get that done, it’s just the first day, first time we’ve been out there together.”

A little rust aside, Jackson was happy to be beginning the next chapter in his NFL career, one that features him as a starter, not the guy stuck behind Brett Favre.

“I’m wanted here,” he said. “It was a different situation in Minnesota. I learned a lot there. That situation made me a better person as well as a better player and I’m going to take that experience and just try to learn from it, just take it and run with it.

“I didn’t want it to happen like that but it did and then it was out of my hands. We’ve got to just take them as they come. I feel like everything happens for a reason. So those past few years, I use those years to get better and do better things.”

In all, six likely starters practiced for the first time, and with the first preseason game happening in only a week, those free agents have a lot of catching up to do before the team heads to San Diego.

“That’ll be tough,” Miller said. “Usually, you have 15 days before your first preseason game, so to go in a week really compresses everything. We’re going to have to study a lot and get as many reps as we can, because it’ll come quick.”

Added Rice: “Well, I don’t have no choice. It’s football. I’ve been playing my whole life. I’m sure if I’m able to step out here the first day with pads on and make it through the practice, I’ll be fine in the game.”

Brock to re-sign

The Seahawks have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with defensive end Raheem Brock, who last year finished second on the team in sacks.

Brock, 33, recorded a career-high nine sacks in his first year with the Seahawks. He added two more sacks in the playoffs, as well as a pair of forced fumbles. In Seattle’s final regular season game, a win over the Rams that clinched the NFC West, Brock had 2.5 sacks and was arguably the team’s best defensive player.

Babineaux a Titan

Safety Jordan Babineaux, spent seven seasons in Seattle after signing with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie in 2004, has signed with Tennessee according to his agent.

Babineaux, who started all 16 games in 2009, was briefly cut prior to the start of last season, then re-signed to a one-year deal at a lower price. Known as “Big Play Babs” to Seahawks fans, Babineaux made a name for himself in his first few seasons making big plays late in games, including a game-saving tackle of Tony Romo in a playoff win over Dallas in Jan. of 2007, and a game-changing interception in a win over the Cowboys in 2005.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog

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