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Monday in Hawkville: With Marshawn Lynch away, the other backs are showing they can play

Posted Jun 9, 2014

With leading rusher Marshawn Lynch not participating in the Seahawks’ OTA sessions, backups Robert Turbin and Christine Michael are taking advantage of getting more reps in practice to improve their games.

A recap of the activities during the Seahawks’ OTA session at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for June 9:

FOCUS ON: THE OTHER RUNNING BACKS

That would be Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. With leading rusher Marshawn Lynch not in attendance, the Seahawks’ incumbent backup (Turbin) and last year’s top draft choice (Michael) are making the most of their extra opportunities during the OTA practices.

And everyone seems to like what they seeing from the hard-running Turbin and the explosive Michael.

STAT DU JOUR: CALL THEM THE SURE-HANDED SEAHAWKS

The Seahawks’ receivers went by a lot of names during the 2013 season. “Clutch.” “Big-play.” “Underrated.” And, yes, the infamous “pedestrian” tag that made Angry Doug Baldwin even angrier, as President Barack Obama joked during the Super Bowl champions’ visit to the White House last month. But “sure-handed” needs to be added to the list. According to two websites that chart such things – sportingcharts.com and Pro Football Focus – the Seahawks had the fewest dropped passes in the NFL last season:

Sportingcards.com
Team Drops
Seahawks 12
Chargers 13
Saints 15
Vikings 17
Eagles 17

Pro Football Focus
Team Drops
Seahawks 15
Cardinals 20
Panthers 23
Chargers 24
Eagles 24

“This has been great for them,” coach Pete Carroll said. “Christine has made the most progress, had the farthest to come. Turbo continues to work really well. Those guys are right on it, really doing well in pass protection and pass assignments. And in the passing game, those guys have shown us they can help us.

“So it’s been a great offseason for those guys.”

Michael, who got just 18 carries last season after being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft, has “matured into the role,” as Carroll put it.

“It’s hard for guys that have been star players to come in and have to fit into a backup position and understand how you’ve got to focus and study,” Carroll said of Michael, who was actually the backup to the backup as a rookie. “Really, just regular rookie stuff is really what he had to get through.”

Carroll mentioned the separation last season between Lynch and Turbin and the rookie, adding “He’s really closed in on them now.”

As for Turbin, who has rushed for 354 and 264 yards in his first two seasons, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said, “He’s a big, strong kid. He’s got good speed. He’s got good power. Those were things that we liked when he was coming out.”

Bevell also pointed out that too many of Turbin’s longer runs last season were nullified by penalties.

“He has the ability to break big runs,” Bevell said. “He can finish them with power. He’s our kind of guy. He’s very tenacious. The game is important to him. He loves to play. He wants to be the best that he can possibly be.”

Bevell set off a social-media flurry last week during the team’s Town Hall when he said the Seahawks would use a “running back by committee” approach.

Monday, Bevell clarified his statement, offering, “I was thinking more out here. We’re kind of rolling all those guys. Really like what we’re seeing from them and just kind of moving them around. That’s not our policy. It’s not something we talk about or do that way. So it’s just something I threw out there and really was thinking about the OTAs.”

Lynch, who turned 28 in April, has more carries (1,002) the past three seasons, including the postseason, than any back in the league.

HOWARD MUDD HONORED

The Pro Football Writer of America have expanded their yearly honors to include lifetime achievement awards for assistant coaches and named them after Paul Zimmerman – Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated, who has been silenced as a writer and speaker since suffering a series of strokes in 2008. The inaugural four-man class includes three assistants who spent time with the Seahawks.

YOU DON'T SAY

“It’s voluntary, but I’m a ballplayer. What else am I going to be doing? When you’re a ballplayer at the heart, this is what you sleep, breathe and eat. This is where you want to be.”

All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, on his mandatory attitude toward the offseason program

Howard Mudd served two stints as the Seahawks’ offensive line coach (1978-82 and 1993-97) during his 39-year, eight-team tenure in the NFL. He’s now “retired” and living in North Bend, although he was a volunteer coach at Mount Si High School last fall.

“I’m very flattered,” Mudd told SI.com’s Peter King in this week’s “Monday Morning Quarterback.” “I also really appreciate the award being named after Paul. When he interviewed me, he was fixated on my troops. I appreciate how he saw the game. I’m quite taken aback. This is such an elite group.”

Fritz Shurmur and Jim Johnson also were honored – along with Ernie Zampese. Shurmur came to Seattle in 1999 as the defensive coordinator on Mike Holmgren’s staff, but never coached a game for the Seahawks that season – which would have been his 25th as an NFL assistant – because he died of cancer that August. Johnson was the Seahawks’ linebackers coach in 1988, and Holmgren wanted to retain him. But Johnson was looked for a coordinator position and found it with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he took the art of blitzing to a Picasso-esque level of innovation – King called him “the master of the disguised blitz.” Johnson died of cancer five years ago after coaching in the league for 23 years.

What a great – and deserving – group for the inaugural Dr. Z awards.

STRINGER INSTITUE HONORS DR. JONATHAN DREZNER

Dr. Jonathan Drezner, a team physician for the Seahawks, has received the Lifesaving Research Award from the Korey Stringer Institute.

Drezner was presented with the award at NFL headquarters in New York City. Drezner is an associate professor and residency faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington and associate director of the school’s Sports Medicine Fellowship.

CHAMP TO CHAMPS

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, and his title belt, attended practice as part of a media tour prior to UFC 174 in Vancouver, BC, Saturday night. The 5-3, 125-pound Johnson shook hands with the several of the Super Bowl champions and posed for pictures after the OTA session.

UP NEXT: A FAREWELL TO PHASE 3

The Seahawks will wrap up Week 8 of their offseason program with their final two OTA sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. Next week, the team will hold its mandatory three-day minicamp on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

 
Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks