I was at the Saturday, Aug 4th, Training Camp and am writing a few thoughts after the fact. I was with several friends and we made a fun picnic out of it. Most of the drills within a decent viewing distance were special teams punt and kick coverage and blocking, secondary drills, and pass rush drills. QBs mostly worked on the far field directly in front of me, so as much as I tried to watch it, my wandering eyes appreciated the better detail I could see in the defense and special teams drills. The offense was off to the far right - so I've a lot less to say about the offense than the defense, until the "scrimmage" plays started. While I wasn't dissecting the practice very diligently, I thought I'd make some comments on the few things that caught my eye.
QBs: There were five players in red jerseys... the QBs and Sidney Rice. For the first 30-40 minutes, Rice and Doug Baldwin were working exclusively with the QBs, and Golden Tate and Braylon Edwards were over there for part of that time as well. I think there is a good chance that those four are the top of the depth chart.
The day was a little windy, constant 5-10 mph breeze with gusts probably into the 15-20 mph range.
Tarvaris Jackson's arm really stood out to me - he really does just flick the ball around the field. Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson are both more sharp in the short passing game, but TJ is head and shoulders above either of them when it comes to putting the ball down field. TJ makes fewer throws than the other two QBs and scrambles a bit more. I think when this happens in 7-on-7 drills, it's an indication that there is a deficiency in his ability to take advantage of what the defense has to give up. I don't think that you can tell why he doesn't make the throws by watching him: it might be that he doesn't see the space away from the covering DB as an open area as well as the other two QBs, but it also might be that he is more conservative by nature or that he lacks confidence. In the 11-11 drills, I did see TJ make two beautiful throws in the midst of traffic, one on a quick slant that showed anticipation and trust, and another on a 15 yard throw to Kris Durham in the seam, who was surrounded by four defenders and got hit just as the pass arrived. Durham would've taken a hard hit, but he led the slant WR (didn't get the number) very well and it would've been a big gain. Someone noted that TJ threw an interception, but I didn't see it.
The other part about Tarvaris that stood out was his speed while scrambling. I don't know if he was not in football shape to start the season last year, or if he had a leg injury that we didn't know about, but the Tarvaris I saw today was incredibly fast and shifty when scrambling. Probably not Wilson shifty, but TJ had a few scrambles where he was blowing by our LBs (and they are supposedly fast).
Wilson and Flynn were pretty comparable. Both more accurate than TJ on short throws, especially the outs to the sideline. The both had balls hang up in the wind several times on longer throws, and a deep 40+ air yard pass Flynn threw ended up a good five yards short and right into Earl Thomas' hands. I think their arm strength is pretty similar, but Flynn keeps his motion very short and tight, and the ball leaves with less velocity, while Wilson takes a bit more of a windup to put some speed on the ball. I thought TJ and Flynn threw the ball to the middle of the field a bit more than Wilson, and I wonder if there might be playcalling differences even in practice or if it was just Wilson seeing around the line better than through it. Wilson looks much crisper than Flynn up until the throw, but Flynn looks more consistent in the way he delivers the ball. In practices like this, it's impossible to compare presnap reads and adjustments from the sideline.
In summary, Tarvaris looks better in practice. But I'm pretty sure the front office doesn't want the best practice player, so I'd be surprised if we saw any QB decisions before a preseason game or two.
Moving onto the secondary...
The first DB drill I saw was the depth WRs and DBs working on punt coverage and punt blocking; they were working with a single gunner trying to beat the double team press at the line. Brandon Browner once tried to just blast through the double team and was actually man-handled. The second DB drill I saw was a coaching assistant throwing deep balls to the DBs as they ran post routes and corner routes. DBs working on tracking and catching the ball like they were WRs running routes.
It's a fucking impressive looking starting group. Browner is just huge - he dwarfs Kam Chancellor when they are standing next to each other. I can't really put into words how intimidating the lineup is: 6'4" 221 lbs, 6'3" 232, 6'3" 195, and 5'10" 202 on paper, but I think maybe Browner is closer to 225-230 and Richard Sherman might be closer to 200-205. ET is incredible changing direction - it's not even a cut, just a smooth curve that somehow has him making a quick 90 degree changes of direction without slowing down. They got swag and swagger and everything in between (swagg and swagge). We know lots about our starters, so I'll move on to a few of the lesser knowns.
Someone asked about Donnie Lisowski. This is what happened -- I'm watching the DBs directly in front of where I'm sitting, being all impressed with our starters, and then there is this guy with just incredibly quick feet and I'm trying to figure out who #38 is? Reminded me of that old NFL commercial where Barry Sanders is running and Gregory Hines is dancing. Lisowski has those kind of feet; he is basically the smallest guy out there, but I'd put money on his foot speed being better than anyone 'cept Leon Washington, and they may be faster than Leon's. Lisowski is an incredibly interesting athlete - if he sticks around in any capacity (practice squad please please please), I could see him in one of three roles: 1) FS backup (would require development), 2) return specialist (I have no idea if he sees the field well for returns), and 3) nickel/dime CB for WRs like Devin Hester and Wes Welker. Lavasier Tuinei did smoke Lisowski on a fade route in one of the red zone drills - and I would be lying if I denied that on that one play he did remind me of Jennings against the 6'5" Oregon product.
Jeremy Lane is like the energizer bunny - he doesn't ever quit on a play. He runs down the WR and kinda just hangs around until the WR turns around back to the huddle. When Tuinei tried to get to the end zone well after he was "down", Lane shadowed him for the last 15 yards and then swiped the ball out at the goal line. Like a bad case of athlete's foot.
None of the other secondary players really caught my eye. So it is high praise that I noticed Lisowski and Lane as standouts.
Pass rush drills were also right in front of me - these were mostly a full OL and a single DL lining up and rushing against the OL who would have the assignment. My friend saw a punch thrown during this drill, but didn't get the numbers of the players.
Frank Omiyale looked very good at a few chances at RT against Chris Clemons. Physically, he looks like one of those "I am the strongest dude on the field and I know it" types, and if he made contact with Clem - it was basically over.
Bruce Irvin was lined up as the Leo on Russell Okung I think for three straight plays. Maybe it wasn't Okung on the first rush... nonetheless - on the first rush, Irvin took three steps upfield, and cut inside underneath Okung creating what would have been a pressure if not a sack. The next play, Irvin went outside Okung and turned the corner about 7 yards past the line of scrimmage. The last play, Irvin juked the inside move, then went outside and turned the corner on a dime - Okung was so burnded that he couldn't have even committed a holding penalty and Irvin would've had a bowl of "Quarterback Crunch."
Irvin also lined up at LDE and tried the inside move twice, both times getting decent penetration but not getting a clean rush. After the first he was coached, and after the second he was coached again. Finally, on his third snap, he probably did what he was supposed to do from the start, which was a straight up outside rush. He exploded off the ball and was in the pocket cleanly only 4 yards upfield from the LOS.
I saw a few standout plays in drills and in 11-on-11 from Kyle Knox (#43?, never heard of him) and DE Cordarro Law (#47).
There were a few things that stood out to me. Braylon was getting first team reps and being treated (sure I could be wrong) like a player fighting for a starting spot, not a roster spot. Rice, Baldwin, and Tate were the other three players for whom I think this holds true. Braylon had one really nice catch on the sideline near me - dude is big and his hands look soft. I think when he was dropping balls, it was a mental thing (concentration?), not a "stone hands" problem.
Kris Durham looked good in special teams drills and in WR drills. He has more explosiveness than he showed last year, and I wonder if he never recovered from his hamstring pull during the few games we saw him play. He had one nice catch across the middle in 11-on-11 drills in a crowd, and got a good pop in the ribs for a no pads practice, but held onto the ball. He also had a great crossing pattern in 7-on-7 drills where he extended to catch a pass well out in front and accelerated through the catch (great play, sometimes players lunge for that ball and lose their stride, but he accelerated through) with enough room to easily turn up the sideline - the play would've been a huge YAC play as he had a good stride and a half separation.
Put Ricardo Lockette next to any other player on the field, and it's be really easy to pick him out as the superior athlete. I didn't see him make any plays (not that he didn't, I just didn't see any). He went to Larry Fitz's camp. He seems serious. The players and staff have been talking him up. It's been said he has the best hands on the team, but then Kellen Winslow arrived and now everyone says Winslow has the best hands.
Tuinei really stands out. He's 6'5" and has that good combination of speed/height that makes it a matchup problem to find a DB fast enough, tall enough, and with enough ball awareness to make the play. Tuinei had one great TD on a fade pattern, over Lisowski as noted above. On another play, Wilson threw him a deep bomb and there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of contact before the ball arrived. He only managed to get one hand up for the catch, but he barely touched the ball and it kinda looked like Tuinei flopped (like an Italian in the World Cup); no flag was thrown. IF he had been able to keep his feet, he had position and the ball was on target.
Golden Tate had a catch on a long bomb, got a bunch of cheers from the crowd, but he pushed off and woulda been called for OPI 10 times out of 10 in an NFL game (unless he was a Steeler). Tate was working 1st team the whole day.
Didn't notice much from Bates, Butler, Obo. While the WR group is really one of the most uncertain positions on this team, I don't think it's because they don't have talent or skill. The fact that Durham and Butler (4th and 3rd round picks) are clearly on the bubble speaks quite well of the competitiveness that exists at the position.
I'd guess that Rice, Tate, Baldwin, and Braylon are locks. I'd have a hard time seeing Durham gone as I think he was drafted to be BMW's (aka Braylon) backup. That leaves one or at the extreme most two roster spots for the remaining eight guys. Personally, I like Lockette's upside and he's got a lot of intangibles that this FO likes - chip on shoulder, charismatic, uniquely athletic (Olympics level athleticism), smart (one of the best interviews on the team). After that, Obo, Butler, Bryant, Tuinei, Bates, Kearse... I don't know if any of them present enough upside to warrant 7WR spots at the expense of not protecting another player somehwere else on the roster. I see Tuinei and Bates as ideal candidates for the PS.
Anyway, those are my observations and perspective after two hours at camp. It was astoundingly fun and worth a trip if you can make it.