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So much is put into the draft and free agent discussion, and this is augmented by possible cuts and contract renegotiation as NFL teams re-balance their caps. However, one thing is almost always absent from the conversation: offseason workouts. I bring these up now in excitement, because the Seahawks will bring all of their players into their offseason workouts at full strength. No major surgeries and or long rehab times, save for Chris Clemons. The Seahawks will be building themselves a bigger, stronger, faster team with no limits or parts holding it back.
A few examples for why these workouts are important: first, you have rookies entering their second year and needing a full time professional workout schedule; second, at these workouts, your body is built up for the long season and any lingering issues are addressed. You'll hear players talk about 'getting my body right' a lot during the offseason, and a big part of that is regenerating some of the muscle mass you lose in-season. During the season, with the hectic schedule, you do not have as much time or ability to work out on the kind of scale necessary to rebuild your body game to game.
Let's take a look at a couple of players in the following section, that may show you what I mean.
Nicknamed 'Pistol' by the fans here on Field Gulls, Wilson had a decent rookie campaign despite weighing in at just 185 pounds his rookie year. He was not as strong or built like he would ideally want to be, but by the next year, after an offseason of workouts, he came into camp at 191, and the strength improvement was noticeable.
One of the things I've monitored over the years is an average of how much weight rookies typically put on in their first offseason of NFL workouts, and on average, it has worked out to be between 6-10 pounds of muscle. This can sometimes help, but it can also lead you to find out about rookies who can't hold up under the necessary strains of an NFL constructed body. It is typical to see signs of trouble with little nagging injuries like pulled muscles or even sudden joint problems.
On the other end, you have veterans who need the offseason to rebuild their bodies and really the first time I learned about this was when Patrick Kerney told the story of tough workouts and eating about 6-7 times a day so he could come into camp weighing about 282 pounds. "I really have to eat a lot," Kerney said. "It's all about building now because by the end of the year I'm probably going to be down around 268, even as I am eating 5 times a day"
There aren't always good stories about workouts and building bodies. John Morgan once brilliantly documented the sudden explosion of mass by Lofa Tatupu. Tats was a sensational rookie who was a bit small for his position - about 227 pounds - but the next year he ballooned to a stunning 238, and the extra bulk slowed him a noticeable bit. The great anticipation he possessed allowed him to keep up with the game, but now instead of playing solid within a twenty yard box, it became about 12-15 yards before his speed limitations were ridiculously exposed.
Tatupu would continue to balloon to as high as 248 and with all the bulk came injuries and knees that could no longer support his bulky upper body. This, along with a myriad of injuries including a torn pectoral and several knee issues, eventually led to the end of his promising NFL career, as he no longer had enough range to play anything outside the hashmarks.
Another parallel story to this is that of Daryl Tapp. Funny enough, when the trade went though there was much consternation here and many of us thought this trade was the first sign that Pete Carroll was an idiot. There had been significant discussion, especially here on the boards at Field Gulls, that pass rushers are a bit of a fine wine that improve with age, and so a great deal was written about how, one of these future seasons, this quality run stuffer was going to pile up the sacks.
I wanted to argue then that Tapp was just too big for his 6'0" frame and at 274 he was carrying around too much bulk - and that wasn't going to go away. Tapp had everything right in the technique department, but when it came to finishing speed, he lacked it on pass rush. He could artfully dispatch a tackle, but then getting around the edge just became a huge problem. He originally fell to the Seahawks in Round 2 of the 2006 Draft because he had put on a ton of sudden weight between the end of the Senior Bowl and the Combine. He went from 248 to about 260+, and teams were scared off. At the time, it was believed that Seattle was getting a steal. The weight never came off, and Tapp - thought of, at one time, as perhaps the most naturally skilled rusher in his draft class - never realized that potential.
I'm sure you're thinking, "But what does all this mess have to do with the current team, Josh?" These offseason workouts and the fact that it's very likely all players will attend them, is a good sign, and while in the past we heard stories from Holmgren's teams of bulk and power lifting and endurance weights, Chris Carslile and Pete Carroll don't live by that motto.
FIVE KEY PLAYERS THAT WILL BE ON A FULL WORKOUT SCHEDULE:
James Carpenter -
This is the first time Carp will be making an appearance at these workouts. Coming into his rookie camp at almost 340, he's not really been able to concentrate on getting his body back to a 325 that matches his form. I am extremely excited for a fully healthy Carpenter - a big man that is not busy rehabbing an injury this offseason, and finally able to build on his natural strength.
Bruce Irvin -
Though size won't solve all of his problems, about 10 pounds of muscle could do wonders for him in terms of being able to shed blockers. I don't think he'll slow significantly with the added weight, but that is always a concern. Irvin came in at about 245, and by the end of the season may have been playing even lighter than that. Perhaps he'll shoot for the 255 mark, somewhere around what Chris Clemons has been playing at.
Walter Thurmond -
I know, I know, WT3 is injury prone and all that. However, when you look at the fact that Thurmond has never had an offseason that didn't require rehab, I'm inclined to give him one more shot. Seattle shut him down after one game appearance last year, but in his fourth season in 2013, he's looking at a breakout year free from the nagging things that have kept him off the field.
Greg Scruggs -
There is a lot there to like for Scruggs, but like most rookie linemen, they don't have the NFL strength and conditioning to make a substantial impact. He perfectly matches the mold of a guy I think Pete's been looking for the last few drafts, sort of a Bryant Young tweener who can play both 3- and 5-technique spots. With a little added weight - good weight in the form of muscle, Scruggs could be a real pain in the ass to offensive linemen in 2013.
Things could get interesting with a renewed competition at the RG spot with a healthy John Moffitt, who spoke a bit about the troubles of coming back from an injury when he sat in with Bob Stelton on 710 ESPN Thursday. He said, "Mentally, it's hard to come back because things just don't feel right." I hope he feels completely right on Monday as he tells Stelton he'll be starting his own Off-season workouts. This puts more pressure on Sweezy to step his game up and with so much of the future to be decided at both guard spots, how Sweezy comes into training camp will be huge for this o-line moving forward.
So that's what I have for you on this topic. I really think there should be significant consideration to what happens in these workouts and so I plan to keep my eyes and ears open as things progress. I also would like you the readers to participate a bit here and talk about guys you'd like to see at the workouts and what impact you think it will have.