Pete Carroll announced today in a press conference that Zach Miller will leave the PUP list today and slowly begin practicing with the team again next week. Miller has been bothered by a foot injury he sustained in mini-camps -apparently unrelated to the torn plantar fascia injury from the Atlanta game - and thus hasn't practiced with the team, but has been running on it for some time. Obviously, Seattle has just been conservative with him in the hopes they can just nip this in the bud early and not have it flare up when games are taking place.
In other interesting news, Pete Carroll confirmed that they're going to test the waters a little bit with WR Phil Bates moving to fullback. For those of you that have followed the blog for some time, you'd probably know that the fullback/wide receiver hybrid has been near and dear to my heart, and the prototype I've always used as an example is the Raiders' Marcel Reece. Reece is a triple threat option as a former receiver that can run crisp routes and catch the ball but can also lead block and even rush the football (he took over for an injured Darren McFadden last year and averaged 4.6 YPC on 59 attempts). Said Pete Carroll (with huge thanks to John Boyle for transcribing):
"Just in conversations about our guys and where their strengths are, maybe where they can be special," Carroll said. "He's a big kid, he's 233 pounds when we started this experiment moving him to fullback, and he'll be 240 within another week. He's just a really good all around football player, we love that he's really fast, and he's a terrific catcher, so if it can work out we might be to develop a player.
"You look back at Tom's history, Tom had a guy named Marcel Reece who was a receiver that moved a couple of years back. If you'll remember he beat us running a slant rout being shifted out of the backfield."
"So we have that thought in the back of our mind too that maybe we can create that. He's done very well at wide receiver, he's had a really good camp, it had nothing to do with that. We just thought maybe there might be something special there for us.
"This is a little bit of long-range thinking, it's going to take a while to get the feel for this, but he's going to play fullback in this game."
Having a fullback that can run routes, beat one-on-one, and catch the ball with YAC ability gives your offense an added dimension and makes you that much harder to defend. I've wanted a guy like Reece for as long as I can remember. My guess is that Bates will be a long-term project and odds are he will never really pan out like I'm imagining, but he's got the background to have some potential for it. He's a former college quarterback (can read defenses, in theory), moved to receiver slash wildcat quarterback his final year of school, then played receiver for the Hawks the past year or so. Hopefully this schooling will help speed the process.
In theory, using your fullback/h-back as a primary receiver downfield (I'm not talking Spider Y Banana, though I really love that play too) just gives you one more weapon that the defensive coordinator must gameplan for. It's why we were all so excited about Percy Harvin - he's a guy that can line up in the slot, on the outside and run a route, or in the backfield and run the ball. Both Robert Turbin and Spencer Ware are exciting players to me because they can both run the ball with physicality but both also offer a pass-catching skillset that you don't see from most running backs.
So, again, in theory - if Bates has improved his polish as a route runner and can adapt himself to the mindset and physical requirements needed from a fullback, this is an exciting thought. I can't stress how much this is still just a theory though.
Nonethless - here's an idea of what I mean:
Reece lines up as a wingback after heading into the huddle as a fullback. He draws the best matchup you could imagine in Darren Sharper (sorry), and burns him for 30+ yards.
Another reason Pete Carroll and Tom Cable might want to be doing this type of experiment: Charles Clay.
This could have been the difference in the game. I'd say Leroy Hill might have been the weak link (especially in coverage) on that defense, and the Dolphins attacked it. Smart.
It's also a good way to beat pass pressure - this is a similar strategy to the now-famous Spider Y Banana, but a more vertical route. Obviously a different type of route - but equally tough to defend.
Anyway - I wrote about this evolving position pre-draft and I'd suggest if you're bored on a Friday afternoon, you read that.
NFL Draft 2013: Breaking down the H-backs - SBNation.com
Scouting the potential prospects that could play the modern version of a position whose name is the abbreviated form of "Hybrid Back".
In addition to Phil Bates, Spencer Ware is also reportedly set to get a bunch of snaps at FB this week, so that's certainly a position to watch on Saturday night.