I didn't really watch the linemen or running backs all that closely on Saturday and Sunday, instead focusing my attention on the passing game - quarterbacks, receivers, and tight ends - and defensive backs. Still, I thought I'd share some general impressions of both units because the run game, both the offensive line and running back positional groups, remain unsettled.
First up - the running backs. My general impression is that Robert Turbin lives up the hype as an explosive, powerful looking running back. It's funny - Eric Williams will often compare him physically to Julius Jones and that's a hard thing to argue against when you see Turbin out there in a helmet - he does look a lot like Jones, which is sort of disappointing, but I certainly think that the Seahawks' fourth round draft pick has more lateral agility and explosiveness than Julius did. Regardless, in a similar vein to this morning's post on quarterbacks, it's tough to tell much from running drills when all 22 players are in shorts and shirts and tackling isn't allowed, but Turbin has looked nice. Good ball security - in lieu of tackling, you'll see Seahawks defenders doggedly just try and strip every ball carrier during these non-padded practices - and Turbin hasn't put the ball on the ground while carrying it, that I've noticed.
The most apparent aspect of his game though is again, his quickness. Jolty in his cuts, smooth in his gait, overall I really like his running style and think it has the potential to lend itself nicely to the scheme. Tom Cable talked about making adjustments to Turbin's approach during this weekend's practices, echoing the message he gave to Marshawn Lynch last season, "One step and go. One step and go. And trust your gut. [Turbin] kind of went in there and pity-pattered. Kind of stomping snakes, you know," Cable said. "You can't do that in this system - and in this league - because you're going to get hit about 18 times." According to Clare Farnsworth, 'the next time Turbin got the ball, he made the one cut, ripped cleanly through the line and accelerated into the secondary.'
Leon Washington looked surprisingly effective carrying the football as well, in his unmistakeable choppy and explosive style, and he did receive a decent amount of carries. This is only my opinion, but it seems to me that the Hawks mean to see what they have in Washington as a runner, because frankly I don't think it's essential to carry him on the 53-man roster solely as a kick/punt returner anymore, both financially speaking and in reference to the numbers game that goes into constructing that final-53. If he sticks, they want to know that they can use him as a running back if need be, partly due to this Marshawn Lynch situation, but just in general because injuries do happen, and frequently.
Golden Tate, in many ways, is a player that could assume many of Leon's duties as a return man and there's even the outside possibility, though probably unlikely, that Seattle could use Golden as a running back in some situations, as we saw with Darrell Bevell and Percy Harvin in Minnesota. Obviously, the Seahawks value special teams enough to consider keeping Leon on as a specialist and they did so last year, but when you look at the numbers at running back and wide receiver and the potential casualties you'll see at those spots, it seems strange to keep a guy whose only function is to return kicks for a scheduled $2 million in 2012. Either way, Leon did receive a decent amount of carries on both days and I thought he looked good.
Further down the depth chart is another player that could challenge Leon Washington for his spot on the roster -- running back Tyrell Sutton. Sutton too looks very shifty and explosive running around in shorts and no pads, and appeared quick to hit the hole in running drills. I didn't see enough of him to make a real judgement one way or another, but he's a player I aim to watch a little more closely next time. I haven't seen much from Michael Robinson or Vai Taua up to this point, so cannot offer much of a comment on either, and Marshawn Lynch still looks like Marshawn Lynch. Which is to say - he looked great out there, running around like a wild banshee.
In regards to offenive line, as Eric Williams shared on Saturday, the units on day one were, starting with the first team - Russell Okung at left tackle, Paul McQuistan at left guard, Max Unger at center, John Moffit at right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle. The second team consisted of Frank Omiyale at left tackle, J.R. Sweezy at left guard, Lemuel Jeanpierre at center, Deuce Lutui at right guard and Paul Fanaika at right tackle.
Also notable on both days were a couple of new editions to the line - Rishaw Johnson and Edawn Coughman - with Johnson seeing time at guard and Coughman at right tackle. Right off the bat you'll notice these two - from a distance both look a lot like James Carpenter in appearance, and that's to say, huge, powerful, dreadlock-coiffed and intimidating. I will say that right now, these two intrigue me very much, if only in their physical makeup. I like that Coughman, who I originally had thought would be competing for a guard spot, can play on the outside at right tackle and both players looked be be in excellent shape. Backup tackle now might be a more important position to establish depth at because of the emergence of solid backups in Deuce Lutui, Lemuel Jeanpierre, and possibly Johnson, Allen Barbre or J.R. Sweezy at guard. Also in the mix at guard, of course, is James Carpenter, but I am not counting on him from Weeks 1 through 6.
After Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini, there's a mishmash of players that could step in at tackle. Paul McQuistan would probably step in on the left side in the case of an injury to Okung but also in the mix at depth are Alex Barron and Frank Omiyale. I didn't watch much of Omiyale and Barron, a formidable looking human being with absurdly long arms, I only noticed once -- when he false started. That's where my intrigue with Coughman and Fanaika come in -- both are young and physically impressive, and on one particular play I did notice Fanaika, the former ASU guard, handle himself nicely against a speed-rushing Bruce Irvin, keeping the pocket clean for Russell WIlson to step up into. Both Coughman and Fanaika will be works in progress I'm sure, but I like their potential.