Linemen’s retention leaves Tom Cable smiling

Posted May 2, 2013

After displaying impressive physical conditioning during Phase 1 of the offseason program, the players’ retention of schemes and techniques to start Phase 2 shows they’re also mentally ready for what lies ahead.

It was only the second on-field session in Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program, but Tom Cable was smiling.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s workout along the shores of Lake Washington, the team’s assistant head coach/offensive line coach approached offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and running backs coach Sherman Smith and offered, “The retention is just off-the-charts.”

It was an affirmation that the players’ mental state is as good as the physical condition they displayed during the two-week Phase 1 of the program.

“The thing is that I really believe that they came in better prepared this offseason than they had in previous offseasons,” head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said at the conclusion of Phase 1. “It goes to show the type of guys coach (Pete) Carroll and (GM) John Schneider are bringing. They’re bringing in not only five-star athletes, but they’re bringing in five-star people that understand what it takes and what they need to do to prepare at the highest level.”

That preparedness has now spilled over to the practice fields.

“We noticed it in that first week, how well they came back in shape,” Cable said Thursday on another picture-postcard day at Virginia Mason Athletic Center (Just how nice was it? A water-skier went by on Lake Washington just as the offensive players were taking to the field).

“This week, it just jumped at you again. All the teaching from last year has been great retention.”

For Cable, who installed the zone-blocking scheme that has been so successful for the Seahawks when he was hired in 2011, that means less repetition and more moving forward with his current group of linemen – All-Pro center Max Unger and Pro Bowl left guard Russell Okung; Paul McQuistan and J.R. Sweezy, the incumbent starters at guard; right tackle Breno Giacomini, who is recovering from offseason elbow surgery; and incumbent backups John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Rishaw Johnson and Mike Person.

“We’re able to just kind of plug in where we left off,” Cable said. “Then the newness and the new things we want to add to it, we’ll put some focus to that. But it’s really been pretty good how they’ve competed just to bring it back with them. It’s made it a lot easier for us.”

The back-to-square-one teaching that Cable excels at will come next week when the three linemen who were selected in the seventh round of last weekend’s NFL Draft and two others who were signed after the draft report for three three-day rookie minicamp.

Here’s Cable take on each of those linemen:

Ryan Seymour, a 6-4, 301-pound guard from Vanderbilt – “He’s an athlete. He fits our group, in that there’s a lot of quick twitch; a lot of good change of direction; he’s got some good power and pop to him. And he played a lot of football (34 starts the past three seasons) in the SEC.”

Jared Smith, a 6-4, 302-pound defensive tackle from New Hampshire who is being moved to center – “This is going to be the research project, if you will (just as Sweezy made the move from D-line to O-line after being drafted in the seventh round last year). John and Pete, they allowed it to happen last year. As we went through the draft, John Schneider said, ‘Hey, I think there’s another guy for a possible transition.’ And sure enough, I looked at him, went and worked him out and it was like, ‘Yeah.’ This is a very similar guy to J.R. that way. So we’ll put him at center and see where he can take it.”

Michael Bowie, a 6-4, 332-pound tackle from Northeastern (Okla.) State – “Our plan coming out of the draft was to see if we could add a young tackle into our group and start to develop him. So this is a great opportunity for Mike, a guy who was a starting left tackle at Oklahoma State and kind of got off track and ended up at Northeast Oklahoma. We know a little bit about him, obviously, through Russell Okung (a first-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2010). So I’m going to work with this guy and see if we can kind of get him where he’s trying to go.”

Alvin Bailey, a 6-3, 320-pound tackle from Arkansas; and Jordon Roussos, a 6-3, 307-pound guard from Bowling Green – “Alvin has played multiple positions. So for us, with Alvin and Jordan, it’s going to be a couple of guys we think can go practice squad or beyond. I like Jordon a lot. He has played a ton; I mean a million snaps at Bowling Green. Then you get him in here for a visit, he’s a very intelligent guy, good athlete. So he just fits what we’re trying to do.”

Intelligent? Good athlete? Sounds like Roussos also fits the way the veterans have returned to start preparing for this season that comes with heightened expectations.

“That whole group, the three players we drafted and the two that we signed as free agents, they’re going to allow us a chance to try and develop some youth and some depth – like the eighth, ninth and 10th positions on the offensive line,” Cable said.