By Jared Stanger
Welcome to VMAC and the beginning of Seahawks’ training camp 2016. I wasn’t able to attend the very first session on Saturday, but I did get in (after the team released additional tickets on Friday) to the Sunday practice. Here are some of my observations from my vantage on the berm.
Practice pretty much always opens with special teams work. This early in camp, even though Tyler Lockett is presumptive kick/punt returner, the team gives reps catching kickoffs to a wide range of players. I noted Alex Collins, Kenny Lawler, Kevin Smith, Paul Richardson, Antwan Goodley, and Deshon Foxx in addition to Lock.
In the kick coverage half of the field, I thought Montese Overton and Tyvis Powell stood out from their sheer athleticism. This will be a good group this year.
Throughout practice, you can tell this is a relaxed group. The music is constant, guys dance to it in between reps…guys will post each other up in a quick, imaginary game of basketball…and the vets have all kinds of freedom(s). I noted Baldwin working the hand-fighting drill with the DL, while Michael Bennett slipped into the kickoff catch line.
Even though the construction of it has changed, the chemistry of the OG LOB has not. The quartet of Sherman, Browner, Kam, and Earl just naturally flow towards one another. And then, as a group, they lead the defense.
In terms of position work, I was limited in my ability to observe the offensive groups while they worked on the lake-side field. I hope to have better luck at my next couple of camps when I’ll have some binoculars to see the far field.
I enjoyed the look of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, George Farmer, and Tye Smith as the DB’s worked through their press-bail.
Cassius Marsh looks better, and pretty damn natural, dropping in coverage with the LB’s. Great hands, too.
At one point in position work, I did glance up and see Brandon Cottom running free on the far field. He is exceptionally smooth for his size.
It is important to note that when the teams finally co-mingle that 1st team, 2nd team, 3rd team is extremely fluid. A guy that is 1st team in 7v7 will be 2nd team in 11v11. So many combinations are examined. You try to get a sense of who is working where, but really, even that isn’t conclusive.
The team could be pushing younger guys to earn their way up in the ranks, the team could be giving primary reps to a guy that they are considering going forward without, the team could have confidence that player X is pretty much a lock for a backup role and instead want to see extra reps from the potential practice squad guys. It’s a strange dance…one that I don’t always take at face value.
Notable first team reps for Sunday:
CMike at RB, Eric Pinkins at SAM, Jordan Hill at DT. Garry Gilliam and Bradley Sowell pretty much split time at LT as the team adds Garry back in gradually.
Notable positive impressions:
Zac Brooks was both the most consistent RB, in my opinion, and I think made the most splash plays.
Of the bubble WR, I noticed Douglas McNeill most often. I also liked Tanner McEvoy in his couple targets. Doug Baldwin looked really impressive running after the catch.
Frank Clark seemed the most disruptive player on the DL.
Eric Pinkins showed some of the relentlessness Doug talked about in his presser…always hustling to the ball.
Brandon Cottom showed impressive athleticism and really unique versatility. He is what I hoped he’d be.
Notable negative impressions:
Both watching practice live, and then watching the webstream footage, Antwan Goodley looked like a guy that could be cut tomorrow. Muffed kickoff, running wrong routes, dropped balls. With so many WR, he could be the guy cut to add another OT.
The CB depth. I had higher hopes coming in that this group would be really good, but no one is standing out. I noted one play where Tye Smith was running Foxx’s route for him.
It was a similar story for the UDFA. As a draft guy, I get so partial to the rookies, but outside of Brooks none really stood out. In part from lack of reps.
After today’s practice, I think our DL is better than our OL (everyone could guess at this), but surprisingly, I think our WR are better than our DB’s currently. The length and size of our CB has trouble with the quickness of our small WR. The LB’s probably trump the RB and TE. But this is just day #2.
It will be interesting to see how things evolve over this week, and then where we stand when I return to camp next.