I joined the Air Force a couple years ago, and have been living near the Bay Area for over a year now. So when I realized that my brother's wedding coincided perfectly with the week training camp started being open to the public, I purchased a ticket with the idea I would discuss the other days with my wife and go to a few more. That never happened, but I did have Monday morning, the 3rd of August, to see the Seahawks up close.
I arrived 10 minutes before they were to begin taking registration (although they had intelligently already begun.) The Landing is something I had not seen before, and it really is cool for a shopping center. The Blue Thunder drum "line," a snare, bass drum, and two cymbal players were there trying to pep up everyone at 8 in the morning on Monday. Most fans had a Seahawks jersey or shirt, and maybe 80 % of the jerseys were Tatupu's.
1500 fans was the supposed number. It probably was correct, but it was never crowded as I expected. I had no problem getting to the fence to stand up close and watch any drill. The more I watched, the more I realized how little one practice can tell a fan about what the team will do. It is just not structured for that, rather the players are working on multiple skills that their position may need. Perhaps Babineaux and Russell are not the best man defenders on the team, but every defensive back is given the opportunity to man defend against each other. In other drills the secondary worked on zone against two WRs (Other DBs) and a HB, two men defending against three potential targets. The defensive line worked on their push together, and pass rushing drills together. Everywhere on the team, skills are being worked on, and on a team with 97% off-season workout attendance we will hopefully see some players fill out other dimensions of their game.
Lucas vs Wilson
I really loved watching the WR vs CB competition. Ken Lucas seemed to be very serious. I did see him get beat on a long post by Butler who broke away right at the last second, but Lucas was arguing that Butler was already out of the back of the end zone. Lucas was not made to look slow by anyone in these drills or in the 11 on 11, where I saw him smothering Butler on a 3 step drop by Matt, where he threw it up on a fade route.
Josh Wilson in the WR vs CB competition really showed off his speed. No taller WR caught one over him deep because he was accelerating and jumping to the ball. Also, when WRs came back to the ball Wilson looked incredible, getting his arm around and knocking it out. However, when Logan Payne came back to the ball, it was thrown high and Wilson could not come back and get up high because Payne's body had the right position, so he allowed that catch. He was visibly upset that he allowed that catch, and it is clear that he and Lucas both are taking the idea of competition very seriously.
Slim looked pretty good, but was beat to the sideline by Branch, who looks like he floats when he is actually cutting. Burleson looked great running, jumping, cutting. In 11 on 11, he caught pass after pass, and ran through defender after defender. By the way they were in shells and shorts so there was no taking players down. Coaches would blow the whistle when they wanted the play to end, and until then offensive players would keep running through arm tackles and defenders would keep rallying to the ball to put their hands on the ball carrier.
In 11 on 11, Jordan Kent was both fast enough and jumping high enough to beat his man repeatedly, only his man was Marquis Floyd. It was similar to preseason where he was catching the ball on many routes. I never saw him drop a pass, and he caught the ball cleanly, however considering his competition I am sure his confidence was high. Similar to preseason, players are facing different levels of competition, and can shine at some point in every practice if they have NFL talent, which pretty much all of them do.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is better than Bobby Engram, and Hasselbeck had no issues figuring out where he was going to be. In the end zone on a corner route he was deadly, on more than one occasion. He is fast enough to keep whatever separation he's gained, and enough of a leaper to go up for the ball, making sure no one can get to it. The crowd broke out with a cheer when Hasselbeck looked like he was in trouble, threw the ball into a group of defenders and Housh broke in front of them to catch it. They looked great together.
Besides them, I did not see Branch featured much. Obomanu went to the turf to get to a ball, Mike Hass broke out of some zones to catch a pass, Courtney Taylor showed up a few times. I did not see Carlson get many passes in 11 on 11 either. Ultimately the battle for the 4th and 5th WR looked wide open, and very similar to our battle for #1 and #2 WR for some of last season.
I really liked how Teel looked. He was blitzed a lot, I saw him "sacked" once, but mostly he looked downfield and found a man, putting good touch on passes to men who had broken free. I did not see him forcing the ball into a double-team or taking risky passes anywhere. He did struggle some, it would take him some time to find the right guy, but he was not trying to run with the ball, or leaving the pocket.
I could not tell you much about the run game, the backs would run with the ball, but in a practice like that no one knew if he should have been tackled after one yard, or whether he would have broken it. Each back would carry the ball at least 5 yards, and often 7 or 8, but with defenders slapping hands on them and letting them pass. The same goes for the offensive line, defensive line, and linebackers. However, I will say that I was surprised to notice that Patrick Kerney was not limited in anything. He was hitting, getting a push, playing in every drill. The shoulder may give out at some point during the season, but right now he looks like he is having no issues with it.
Courtney Green looked big. He was standing next to DD Lewis, and besides his much skinnier legs, his upper body seemed almost as thick as Lewis' upper body. I did not get to see him do much other than coming up and pretend to tackle. I did not get to see him tested in the passing game to the sideline or deep. However Jamar Adams was tested deep and looked slow. Slow to react or slow to run, I could not tell. However, he did not look like he was going to be an NFL starter this season.
I regret to say I saw little of Jordan Babineaux. Not for lack of trying, but when a guy is on the field, there is no guarantee that a long pass is coming his way, or even a deep route. I did try to see him challenged, but I never caught anything like that.
I did see Russell in action, and he did react quickly and get to the right spots, and he did have the easy INT. His hands looked good on that, he reached out away from his body like a WR and caught it cleanly. He certainly did look like he knew what he was doing and that he was a good player.
One last player I noticed, Cory Redding. First off, he doesn't look like he has any fat on him. He also looks longer than I expected, not like a basketball player, but he seems like he is tall and strong. I did not realize he is 6'4". And he seemed to be in the middle of discussions on the sidelines after plays too. I even caught a picture of him with his arm on Gus Bradley's shoulder, as he waited his turn to get back in.
On the advice side, one last bit. Do not get caught without a sharpie, the players do come to the fence after the practice is over to sign autographs.