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#HawksMailbag - July 30
Greetings, 12th Man (and NFL rivals that may have intentionally stumbled upon the wrong team's website), and welcome to the first of what I hope to be many editions of #HawksMailbag here on Seahawks.com.
We want to know what you want to know about the Seattle Seahawks - both on and off the field. Every Tuesday, we'll pick several of your Twitter inquisitions to answer in detail. Hopefully we can provide a unique, inside perspective as to what's going on at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, but don't expect us to comment on what's churning out of the latest NFL rumor mill.
So, let's get down to business and see what came through the #HawksMailbag our opening week...
Even if Percy Harvin was healthy, I think we could peg Golden Tate as the go-to-guy in the punt return game. Kick returns, however, are a different story. That's where Harvin shines.
Harvin left the Vikings as the club's record holder in kickoff return touchdowns (5) and career kickoff return average (27.9), and averaged an out-of-this-world 35.9 yards per return on 16 tries through nine games in Minnesota a season ago. With Harvin out, head coach Pete Carroll has noted that training camp reps at kick returner will be split between Tate, fellow wideout Bryan Walters and cornerbacks Will Blackmon and Jeremy Lane.
You may remember Walters, the speedy Juanita High School grad who turned on the afterburners in his time with the San Diego Chargers during a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against his hometown 'Hawks in the 2011 preseason.
Blackmon, who was out of the NFL last year playing for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League (AFL), saw plenty of time as a kick returner in four seasons with the Green Bay Packers and in two years with the New York Giants. Blackmon also has three punt return touchdowns to his name.
Lane has some wheels. They were on display on several occasions last season, when he would line up in the "gunner" position on punts. Jon Ryan would often place the ball inside the opposing team's 10-yard-line and Lane would beat his man off the line of scrimmage and down the sideline to down the football in a favorable position. It's that speed that makes him an intriguing candidate in the return game as well.
Another name to watch is cornerback Walter Thurmond, who excelled in limited opportunities as a punt and kick returner during his time at the University of Oregon, and who is currently battling Tate for time on punt returns. Thurmond is healthy for what seems like the first time since he entered the League as a fourth-round draft pick in 2010, and it's showed.
"It will be exciting in preseason to see those guys. They all will get some chances.” - Head coach Pete Carroll talking about the candidates at kick returner after practice on July 27.
I think it's easy to look at Harvin's addition and mark Baldwin as the odd-man out, or as the fourth receiver behind Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Golden Tate. But don't be so quick to apply those labels. Baldwin's work ethic is supreme, and he provides some very valuable depth at wideout.
When Harvin was announced as starting the season on the preseason physically unable to perform (PUP) list, Carroll said he likes what Baldwin can do out of the slot - the inside receiver position that is likely to feature Harvin when healthy.
And what's not to like about Baldwin? In his third season with the club, he's represents a possession fiend with extreme quickness, a deep understanding of the playbook, an unmatched ability to create separation and an uncanny knack for making big plays on third down. His rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson has heightened since a year ago, when Baldwin was forced to miss valuable practice and game time while managing shoulder and ankle injuries.
Harvin's addition to the offense does mean there will be fewer opportunities to go around for each receiver, but it's what each receiver does with those opportunities that really matters. Baldwin has proven effective with most of the opportunities he's been presented with so far, and I think he'll continue to do so as training camp moves forward.
Tickets were in very high demand this year. We had a franchise-record season-ticket-holder renewal rate of 98 percent, leaving just two percent available to the general public in single-game ticket sales. Those single-game tickets sold out the same day they went on sale.
The best way to secure future tickets is by joining our Blue Pride Season Ticket Waiting List. For $100 (which is applied to your future purchase of tickets), you'll reserve a spot in line to purchase tickets as they become available, get access to exclusive single-game ticket offers as they become available, receive a 10 percent discount at The Pro Shop, and you're automatically entered to win a pair of 2013 season tickets, as well as other prizes. Just over 1,000 spots remain.