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Camp Carroll, part deux
A week before the NFL draft, Pete Carroll was pumped.
The Seahawks’ new coach likened the annual selection of college players to Christmas, and Carroll couldn’t wait to see which players would end up under the team’s tree on draft morning.
Now, one week after the draft, Carroll and his staff get to take their “presents” out and play with them.
That will happen during the Seahawks’ three-day minicamp that kicks off Friday – the team’s second in three weeks, but the first to include the 12 players added during the draft and the 15 free agent who were signed immediately after the draft.
“The first minicamp, we had a great time,” Carroll said. “We’re going to do the same camp again, and go basically through the same meetings and try to hammer home the basics of it and the foundation of our program.”
It’s just that the number of players in attendance has been spiked considerably for this camp, because the draft was so generous to the well-prepared Seahawks as they parlayed nine picks into those 12 players by working a couple of trades.
Some of the “gifts,” however, will remain under wraps. Cornerback Walter Thurmond, a fourth-round draft choice, and running back Leon Washington, who was obtained in a draft-day trade with the New York Jets, are recovering from serious injuries and won’t participate in drills. Thurmond tore three ligaments in his right knee in September, while Washington had surgery to put a rod in his right leg after breaking the tibia and fibula in October.
But this camp – with single practices but also walkthroughs Friday, Saturday and Sunday – will provide the first chance to see the new left side of the offensive line. Russell Okung was selected with the sixth pick in the first round of the draft to fill the void created at tackle by the retirement of Walter Jones. Ben Hamilton was signed in free agency last week to slide in next to Okung – and tutor him – at guard.
“Ben just went through this with the kid at Denver,” offensive line coach Alex Gibbs said of Hamilton tutoring first-round draft choice Ryan Clady the past two seasons with the Broncos. “You can’t throw them out there without someone to guide them.
“We needed a player that had done that, and knew the system that I knew, to help with the transfer. That’s what Ben is for. Ben will line up inside of (Okung) and guide him daily through the whole process. So he’s Coach One, I’m Coach Two.”
Also new is the mix at safety, were first-round draft choice Earl Thomas will step in at free safety, with Jordan Babineaux sliding to strong safety to replace Deon Grant, who was released last month.
“We want to put him in a position where he can use his instincts and his range,” Carroll said of Thomas, the 14th pick overall in the draft. “Jordan will be able to play on the other side for us, and that will be good for Jordan, as well.”
Also on display in this “post-Christmas” camp will be wide receiver Golden Tate, who was selected in the second round of the draft; and running back LenDale White, who was obtained in a trade with the Tennessee Titans and brings the physical presence that Carroll had been seeking to add to the mix in the running game.
The Seahawks also drafted a couple of defensive ends with diverse size and skills – 289-pound bull-rusher E.J. Wilson in the fourth round and 244-pound speed-rusher Dexter Davis in the seventh round. Where they fit with the ends already on the roster – Lawrence Jackson, Chris Clemons, Ricky Foley, Robert Henderson and Nick Reed – remains to be seen.
The Seahawks also will have 15 more players in for tryouts during this camp. Why bother? They signed six from the tryout group at the first camp – wide receivers Reggie Williams and Mike Williams, cornerback Kennard Cox, fullback Ryan Powdrell, guard Mitch Erickson and safety Quinton Teal.
All part of Carroll’s plan to increase the numbers – and competition – at every position.
“It’s a central theme in this program, is to compete and find ways to battle,” he said. “It’s not to make people feel uncomfortable; it’s to make us the best that we can possible become.”