The Seattle Seahawks are one week into training camp, and the top storylines so far have been the absence of unsigned first-round pick Aaron Curry, the back injury that put cornerback Marcus Trufant on the PUP, the injury release of left guard Mike Wahle and the resulting new O-line configuration, and the switch of Patrick Kerney from left end to right end.
Here’s what we have learned on all of those fronts:
Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have signed defensive lineman Tyson Jackson, the third pick in the draft, the Seahawks should soon strike a deal with Curry, the fourth pick and the man expected to replace Julian Peterson.
Jackson’s deal reportedly is worth $57 million over five years, with $31 million guaranteed. The fifth pick, quarterback Mark Sanchez, received a five-year contract with $28 million guaranteed. So Curry has been slotted, and—as expected—it looks like he’ll end up with right around $30 million guaranteed, probably in a five-year pact.
Once the linebacker gets in, he’ll be given no quarter by coach Jim Mora.
“Every day you get a little bit more concerned,” Mora said of the missed time in an interview with KJR radio last weekend. “But he had a good offseason. He’s smart. He picks things up well. He’s kind of an instinctive player. It will help him.
“But I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you, sure there’s a concern. How are we going to catch him up to the point he can be an effective player?
“Like I’ve told Aaron many, many times, ‘You’re not a rookie. You can’t make rookie mistakes. Not for us to be the kind of defense we want to be on the kind of team we want to have. We can’t have, ‘Ah, he’s a rookie. He’ll get it next time.’ That is not acceptable. You were highly drafted. You’re going to be well paid. We have huge expectations for you. And dang it, you’re going to meet them. And that’s end of discussion.’ ”
Injuries are still part of the discussion, though, particularly with Trufant on the PUP list with a back problem, prompting the team to sign Travis Fisher. Jones and Deion Branch also have missed practices to rest their surgically repaired knees. And now center Chris Spencer has an ankle injury.
But quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is healthy, and receiver Nate Burleson seems on track to return from the ACL injury that cost him 15 games in 2008.
One injured player didn’t even make it to camp as Wahle failed his physical and was released.
At this point, the coaches are running Rob Sims as the starting left guard, where he was in 2006 and 2007. And they might even consider moving Sean Locklear to right guard so Ray Willis can play right tackle.
Mora said the line could end up being, from left to right, Jones, Sims, Spencer, Locklear, Willis. Of course, that is dependent on Jones being healthy and Locklear not having to play left tackle. But second-round pick Max Unger surely figures in somewhere.
“I feel confident, between (offensive coordinator) Greg Knapp and (line coach) Mike Solari, they’ll get those pieces in the right place by the time we kick it off,” Mora told KJR. “We’ll see once we get into preseason how those guys meld together.”
One thing that has become clear is that the new coaches plan to use players to their best effect. The coaches talk about being “multiple,” which really means “diverse.” They want all of their linemen to be able to play multiple positions, which is why they drafted Unger, who can play center and guard, and traded for DE/DT Cory Redding.
One of the big moves the team has made is to switch Kerney from left end to right to help protect him from wearing down, especially as he comes back from a shoulder injury. Redding is challenging Lawrence Jackson at left end.
“Bringing [Redding] in, we were able to move Pat to right end, where he’ll take less of a pounding,” Mora told KJR, explaining that teams tend to be right-handed and use the tight end to keep the left end away from the quarterback. “That [the move] will help Pat durability-wise.”
As for that other big question, president Tim Ruskell promised the team won’t keep two kickers this season like the Hawks did last year. Either Olindo Mare or Brandon Coutu will win the job.
"It won’t happen again this year,” Ruskell told reporters before camp started. “We’ll go with one guy and it’ll be a nice battle to watch. They’ve both done well so far. Part of the reason for holding on to him [Coutu] last year is that we were getting interest from other teams … It [a trade] just didn’t happen. And then, with the injuries, we had enough room to keep him and it didn’t hurt us. So we just kept him, and said, ‘OK, we’ll have this competition go for another year.’
“He’s a good kicker. He was 7 for 7 last year in the preseason. Teams noticed. There was a lot of chatter. Nothing really manifested itself in terms of a trade, but we’re still getting calls on the guy. So he’s either going to be our kicker or we’ll make a move, but we’re not going to have two kickers this year. I’m going to go on record and say that.”
Basically, expect the Seahawks to come out of camp with another 2010 draft pick in hand.