What I Like After Ten Days Of Seattle Seahawks Training Camp
Over a week into Jim Mora's training camp, the Seattle Seahawks have produced a number of interesting news and notes.
From headline stories such as the retirement of Mike Wahle to back-page blurbs such as the daily chorus of Aaron Curry fan chants, every detail from the Seattle Seahawks training camp thus far can be absorbed, analyzed, and somehow applied the the Seahawks destiny in 2009.
Here is a list of notes/observations/opinions which, in my opinion, are pivotal to the 2009 Seattle Seahawks.
I'll begin with the most obvious point from this year's camp...
Jim Mora Means Business
New head coach Jim Mora has been brushing his teeth, sorting out the recycling, putting on ugly t-shirts, and doing any other random act that has been associated with Business Time.
This is no slant on former Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren, but he wasn't the most driven individual in terms of external aggression (just ask Colin Cowherd). Jim Mora, on the other hand, is known as an aggressive, driven, and hands-on head coach, and his training camp has fully lived up to his reputation.
In front of a sell-out crowd at the VMAC (the Seahawks practice facility is the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Redmond, WA) the Seahawks are grinding out two-a-days in the dog days of summer. At least Mora eased up on Sunday, ten days into practice, and gave the players a night off.
If you don't think two-a-days in the summer heat are brutal, just ask Seahawks Stength and Conditioning Coach Mike Clark. Clark is learning that...
Jim Mora Loves the "Torture Chamber"
You may ask, "Why do the Seahawks have a torture chamber at training camp?" Fear not, they do not have any sort of sadistic device on location. Instead, they have a section of the field marshaled by their fitness-savvy S&C coach Mike Clark.
If you didn't follow the above link for Clark's bio, I'll summarize it for you: the guy knows what he is doing.
Clark resides in a designated corner of the VMAC field, entertaining players who aren't practicing at the time. In case you missed the forced exaggeration on that last line, let's just say that Clark's "entertainment" is comprised of endless conditioning exercises.
Mora has grown fond of Clark's corner, labeling it the "Torture Chamber," and making sure that Clark always has players to keep entertained.
At this pace, the whole roster might drop twenty pounds. Speaking of a twenty pound drop...
DT Brandon Mebane Is Slimmed Down and Ready to Rumble
I laughed to myself when I typed "slimmed down," because despite dropping twenty pounds this offseason, Mebane still weighs in at a hefty 300 pounds. Consider, however, that Mebane got as high as 330 pounds last season, and one can understand why Team President Tim Ruskell labeled Mebane a "lean fighting machine."
Mebane and the newly acquired 330 pound Colin Cole will undoubtedly clog the center of the defensive line. Cole will serve as the nose tackle while the slimmer Mebane will take a crack at the three-technique.
All reports out of camp are that Mebane has been outstanding, earning a Player of the Day nod from Seahawks blogger Clare Farnsworth last Wednesday.
Good news, I guess, because who wants a fat guy in camp who isn't performing. Speaking of fat guys who haven't performed...
RB T.J. Duckett Could Excel in a Zone Blocking Scheme
First and foremost let me clarify that I do not think T.J. Duckett is fat. He may be heavy, but anyone who has seen T.J.'s six-pack would instantly cut out the fat jokes (for full description see here).
Duckett has been one of the more surprising story lines of the Seahawks camp so far. While Duckett expressed his interest in more touches this season, no one but T.J. legitimately thought that he would touch the ball outside of the five yard line.
In training camp, however, Duckett seems to be adapting well to new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's running system. And why not? Greg Knapp was Duckett's offensive coordinator in Atlanta when Duckett tallied over 100 carries, 500 yards, and eight touchdowns in 2004.
For those of you who still aren't buying Duckett as a legitimate running threat (which partially includes myself) consider this: on Sunday, Clare Farnsworth wrote that Duckett scored a touchdown from the seventeen yard line... on the other side of the field! Somehow Duckett ran his way to an 83 yard touchdown run. It was a textbook ZBS touchdown run; one cut and gone.
Unfortunately for T.J. the touches might not be there, but that is a recurring theme on the Seahawks because...
Both Playing Time and Roster Spots Will Be Elusive in 2009
Quite simply, the Seahawks roster is crowded. There are a number of players on the Seattle Seahawks squad who are going to become casualties of the numbers game, and as a result will lose playing time and/or their job because of it.
At tight end, John Carlson is clearly the man, but the fight for remaining tight end roster spots is brutal, as John Owens, Cameron Morrah, Joe Newton, and John Tereshinski are all in the mix. Each player has his own strong suit. Owens is a blocker, Morrah is a pass catcher (and excellent red zone target), etc. It will be interesting to see who wins and loses here.
At wide receiver, the talent pool is even more muddled. Last year's receiving corps was part veteran, part free agent, part drifter, and one-hundred-percent awful. Unfortunately for last year's stand-ins, the injured players they were replacing have now healed.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch, and Deon Butler are sure things, while Ben Obomanu is the favorite to land the fifth spot. This likely leaves one roster spot available for soap opera names like Jordan Kent, Logan Payne, and Courtney Taylor, as well as longshots Michael Bumpus and Mike Hass (also don't forget that WR Billy McMullen was already cut to make room on the roster for Aaron Curry last week).
For the sake of time I will refrain from going into the depth chart disasters at cornerback and defensive end, but competition encourages growth, so whoever the Seahawks put on the field will certainly have earned their playing time.
An exception to earning playing time might be LB Aaron Curry. Despite the fact that he entered camp late, I still believe that...
LB Aaron Curry Will Be Ready to Play
Had the Seattle Seahawks drafted Michael Crabtree, this would be the point when I would be hurling myself off the Tacoma Bridge.
Instead, the Seahawks landed the safest player in the 2009 draft, sent $30 Million guaranteed his way, and got him into training camp faster than a number of prominent rookies.
Curry hit the field a week late, but the fans already embrace him (video here) and he seems to be catching on quickly. While a holdout can damper the growth of several skill positions (e.g. quarterback, wide receiver), the effects of a holdout shouldn't keep Curry weighed down.
Pro Bowl LB Lofa Tatupu laughed it off when reporters suggested the Curry's holdout could pose a threat to his NFL adaptation. "A linebacker, it's not rocket science," Tatupu said. "You hit the man with the ball. I don't want to make it sound like it's that easy, but it's not like he's playing quarterback or something." (see the full comments at Danny O'Neil's blog for the Seattle Times)
We have covered Curry and WR Deon Butler, but they won't be the only rookies seeing the field in 2009, because...
Drafting OL Max Unger is Looking Better by the Day
I was skeptical when the Seahawks took Unger in the second round of this year's draft. Then again, I should have to forfeit my right to skepticism, because I blistered the Seahawks for trading up for John Carlson last year (in my defense, USC TE Fred Davis was available and I thought he was a better choice).
However, Unger's versatility earned my support, and the current state of the Seahawks offensive line might thrust him into battle.
Pro Bowl G Mike Wahle failed his physical and was released prior to training camp, forcing Rob Sims to move from right guard to left guard while Mansfield Wrotto steps into the right guard spot. Wrotto is slated to start right now (do you blame the Hawks? He looks angry in his profile picture...), but it is generally understood that Max Unger is the future at this spot.
If Wrotto can provide stability at right guard, it would allow Unger to move around the line as a backup, which was the original plan prior to Wahle's release/retirement. Either way, Unger is going to be pivotal to the Seahawks offensive line in 2009.
That's it! Thanks for reading and please respond with what you agree/disagree with in the comments section below.
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