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Two-Minute Drill: Rookie Spencer Ware primed for playing time at fullback vs Denver
Spencer Ware felt pretty good about his first game-action at the NFL level.
"I feel like I contributed in different areas - short yardage, getting the first down, scoring a touchdown in the red zone, and picking up some key blocks," Ware said after Thursday's practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. "That's what I'll continue to do as long as I'm here. Whatever role they want me to play I'm going to do it the best I can."
Ware, drafted by the Seahawks with the 26th pick in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, was one of several young Seahawks on display in last Thursday night's 31-10 preseason victory over the San Diego Chargers. He ran for 32 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, added a 4-yard reception and showed a knack for dismantling oncoming rushers when hanging in pass protection.
The exact role the Seahawks will carve out for Ware remains to be seen. Coming out of the draft, head coach Pete Carroll dubbed Ware "the toughest running back in college football." The Seahawks are hoping Ware's hard-nosed running style translates well to fullback, where the club has been priming Ware throughout training camp.
"It's a whole different mindset at fullback," said Ware. "I still have to get in a comfort zone of not having the ball when I'm reading defenses and knowing that I have someone behind me. It's about being real, real detailed on my assignments each and every time.
"I've had a little difficulty with getting the two positions mixed up on certain things, but I feel like I've handled it pretty well."
Ware served as a dual-threat quarterback at Princeton High School in Cincinnati, Ohio before making the switch to running back at Louisiana State University. He shares that QB-background with Seahawks starting fullback Michael Robinson, who played quarterback at Penn State University before making the move to running back/fullback at the NFL level.
"We all get the same amount of reps out there, so you see how each of those guys seizes the moment or reps that they get in practice just like they would in games," Ware said of learning from Robinson and running back Marshawn Lynch. "That's how they carry it over to Sundays. It becomes easy for them.
"The one thing I'm picking up the more time I spend with them is to eliminate the little mistakes and try to do it right all the time."
Adjusting to fullback is fresh in Ware's mind, but the position itself isn’t entirely foreign. Ware played fullback his freshman year at LSU, acting as lead blocker for Stevan Ridley (now with the New England Patriots) in the Tigers’ zone-blocking, power run game - a similar style of ground attack currently employed by Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable.
Ware will receive increased opportunities at fullback in the team's second preseason game against the Denver Broncos, something running backs coach Sherman Smith relayed to Ware earlier this week. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell echoed Smith's attitude after Thursday's practice.
"It's great to have those skilled players that can play fullback and then step back there in an emergency and be able to carry the ball," Bevell said when asked about Ware's development. "I really like what I see out of Spencer carrying it and we want to be able to get him more opportunities to do that, but we also need to see him run up there and fit in on a linebacker."
Below is a little bit more from my Thursday conversation with Ware, including how he performed in the Seahawks annual training camp Home Run Derby.
What other takeaways did you have from your performance last week against the Chargers?
"It felt good to get the ball back in my hands. Hopefully, I get some more to get a little more comfortable with who my guys are blocking ahead of me and how they approach different games - do they get stronger at the end of the game, or in the middle? And working on key matchups and things like that that come with being a runner."
You played baseball your freshman year at LSU. The team recently held their annual training camp Home Run Derby. Did you represent the running backs group?
"I did. I had one home run and another that was almost out. We had five swings. It's real hard adjusting to the ball coming in on a downward plane going like 12 miles per hour, hitting a softball with a softball bat. I was on top of the ball a lot."