As Mike Holmgren said, while addressing the fans, this was the time and the place for the young players to prove they have what it takes to make the team—and Julius Jones said it was the perfect atmosphere to get the game vibe into the player’s heads.
An estimated 11,000 fans were on hand, and nearly everybody was excited to see their beloved, four-time defending division champion Seahawks take the field, even if it was in small groups and rather melodramatic.
The starters played very little time at the scrimmage. Hasselbeck played the first series, which ended in a field goal, and then stood from the sidelines the rest of the practice. Running backs Julius Jones, Maurice Morris, and many of the defensive leaders did the same.
It was a time for the kids to shine, and a few of them lit up like the mid-day sky.
While Lawrence Jackson and John Carlson were predicted to go into the season as the top two rookies of the year, safety Jamar Adams, an undrafted free agent out of Michigan, showed his worth today.
Adams played alongside the second and third team defenses, and had a great showing, not only plowing fellow rookie running back Justin Forsett when he was trying to run for a first down, but breaking up balls and roaming the defense.
Adams, although a bit unpolished, could develop into a top-tier player if he continues to improve. Though he lacks the true skill it takes to be a good NFL talent (the reason why he went undrafted), he wasn’t rated the No. 4 safety in the draft for no reason.
Jamar Adams played strong safety at the scrimmage, alongside free safety C.J. Wallace, who made the team after being undrafted from Washington last season. Wallace showed great speed at the game, and his explosiveness helped shutdown several rushing plays.
Mike Green has had the backup safety job for two years now, but if he doesn’t perform for the rest of camp, I could easily see Wallace and Adams making the team primarily for kickoffs.
Another defensive back that proved his worth today was cornerback Kevin Hobbs, who played on the Seahawks practice squad for most of last season before signing late in the year. Hobbs broke up a pass early in the game, shutting down what would have been a 30-yard gain by WR Jordan Kent.
Not only did he show good quickness and hands in the scrimmage, Hobbs added great depth to the Seahawks' secondary, as with a little more experience he could easily become a great nickel corner.
As for the line and linebackers, very few of the starters spent time on the field. Defensive End Patrick Kerney, who recently had surgery on his shoulder, was left out, and DT Marcus Tubbs was the same, as they are trying to save him for the regular season.
One of the standout defensive linemen, though, was DE Jason Babin, who was acquired last season from the Houston Texans in a trade for Michael Boulware. In individual drills, he was able to get around the linemen several times, and he “sacked” quarterback Matt Hasselbeck after getting around Sean Locklear on the first series of the scrimmage.
Though he likely doesn’t compare to an almost invisible Tapp, he could have a shot at competing with Lawrence Jackson for the No. 3 defensive end spot.
One of the biggest competitions in camp this year is on the offensive side of the ball, and today neither T.J. Duckett nor Justin Forsett were able to distinguish themselves from the pack at running back. Projected starter Julius Jones did not play, as Maurice Morris suited up for the first team.
Morris was consistent, as usual, but had limited carries. The bulk of the load was put on Forsett’s small shoulders, and although he did break a couple of nice runs (including one of over 30 yards), he was inconsistent and didn’t hit the holes quickly. Often times he was stuck behind a collapsed line of scrimmage.
As for Duckett, he showed potential as a third-round brickhouse back, but seemed very slow. One of his most promising attributes could be his short-yardage pass abilities, as he could turn an almost guaranteed three-yard pass into a six or seven-yard play.
This was practiced several times on hitch routes up the middle—a play that, mark my words, will be put into the queue this upcoming season. For as much as that is worth, it isn’t worth $3 million a year over five years.
One of the most hyped rookies this season, FB Owen Schmidt from West Virginia, did not perform well in his first public performance as a Seahawk, dropping a few passes and not looking like the unstoppable and insane runner many have projected him to be.
I have heard from inside sources at the training camp that the team is scared to run him against the defense, as he has leveled out players like CB Jordan Babineaux in one-on-one drills. He didn’t look like a madman today.
The line was missing two of its most valuable starters, underachieving center Chris Spencer and Hall of Fame candidate Walter Jones, both of whom are expected to make the first game of the season in Buffalo.
No fill-in or backup proved to be a worthy replacement. Guard Mansfield Wrotto and tackle Samuel Gutekunst might have taken away from their chances of making the team after a poor performance in individual drills.
Though, this is one practice, and they failed on only a couple of plays.
As for the disarrayed special teams, things in Seattle look brighter than they did the fateful day Josh Brown signed with the Rams. Though the team isn’t perfect, rookie long snapper Tyler Schmidt was perfect on the day, and will prove to be a great addition to the team.
On the kicking front, neither of the guys began to pull away. Though, if I had to put my money on it, Olindo Mare will be the starter this season. He was three for four in kicking attempts, and was solid when warming up while rookie Brandon Coutu was struggling. But, at the end of the practice, Coutu hit a 56-yarder, which sent the crowd into a roar.
It will be a battle, but Mare has the distance—something that former kicker Josh Brown relied on when hitting the game-winners.
With punter Ryan Plackemeier hurt, the Seahawks signed Reggie Hodges, a third-year journeyman punter out of Ball State. He connected well on punts before and during the scrimmage, including a couple of 55 yarders with great hang-time. He seems to be a lot more reliable than what Plackemeier was, and he can hold the ball for kicks, so theoretically he could take that job in a heartbeat.
But the true (expected) savior of the day was second-round pick TE John Carlson from Notre Dame. Seahawk fans, blighted by countless years of unsettling tight-end play out of Itula Mili and Jerramy Stevens, are relying on Carlson to perform quickly.
Although he isn’t a great tight end yet, Carlson was able to catch several passes for a good gain, and proved today that he can catch at the NFL level.
With a great atmosphere at Qwest Field, the Seahawks are soaring high into the season. At the end of practice, most of the team strolled the sidelines high-fiving fans and signing autographs. Holmgren called for the 12th Man,” and not only was he there, he delivered.