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Sunday in Hawkville: And on the third day, they scrimmaged

Posted May 18, 2014

Coach Pete Carroll put a competitive capper on the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp as Sunday’s final practice ended with a scrimmage that was, well, very competitive and spirited.

A recap of the third, and final, practice in the Seahawks’ three-day rookie minicamp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center:

WORD OF THE DAY: COMPETITION

That’s been the word every day, all day, since Pete Carroll first walked into VMAC in 2010. But on the final day of the team’s rookie minicamp, the Seahawks’ fifth-year coach let them play.

Sunday’s practice ended with a scrimmage, and the scrimmage ended on a déjà vu note as Thomas Wolfe, a tryout cornerback from Fort Valley State, tipped a Keith Price pass that was intended for wide receiver Kevin Norwood at the goal line and Dion Bailey, a free-agent safety from USC, made the interception.

That’s how the NFC Championship game all-but-ended in January, when All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman made his “Immaculate Deflection” in the end zone on a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree and eventual Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith made the pick to preserve the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory.

The stakes weren’t quite that high on a picture postcard of a day along the shores of Lake Washington, but the scrimmage brought out the competitive best in all the players – and that’s what Carroll and his staff were after.

“That’s competition at its best right there,” said fullback Kiero Small, the team’s seventh-round draft choice in last weekend’s NFL Draft.

Added defensive back and sixth-round pick Eric Pinkins, “It actually felt like a real game.”

STAT DU JOUR: THE CASE FOR JACKSON JEFFCOAT

Jackson Jeffcoat, the rookie defensive end from Texans who signed with the Seahawks as a free agent after last weekend’s NFL Draft, has the pedigree. His father, Jim, played in the league with the Cowboys (1983-94) and Bills (1995-97) and is now the defensive line coach at the University of Colorado. The younger Jeffcoat has the honors, being voted first-team All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last season, when he also won the Ted Hendricks Award as the top defensive end in college football.

So why wasn’t he drafted? A comparison of his two most-productive seasons to those of the edge rushers who were selected in the first-round does little to answer that question:

Note: TFL = Tackles For Losses

Player School (Draft Spot) TFL/Sacks
Jackson Jeffcoat Texas (FA) 43/21
Jadeveon Clowney So. Carolina (1st) 35.5/21
Khalil Mack Buffalo (5th) 41.5/18.5
Anthony Barr UCLA (9th) 41.5/23.5
Dee Ford Auburn (23rd) 21/16.5

The Green team, co-coached by assistant strength and conditioning coaches Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee, won 10-7 because of that last-play pick.

“It’s really exciting to see these guys come out here and battle like they did,” Carroll said. “We tried to give them a feel for what it’s like to be part of the Seahawks and these guys really answered the call and worked really hard for us.”

The Green team, led by tryout quarterback Zach Zulli from Shippensburg, took a 3-0 lead as Zulli completed six of his first seven passes for 85 yards before finishing 0 for 3 and settling for being awarded a field goal after reaching the 7-yard line.

The Blue team, coached by head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, took a 7-3 lead on the next possession as Price was 4 of 4 for 71 yards – including 12-yard TD pass to wide receiver Arceto Clark, who reached back to snag the pass that was tipped slightly at the line. Price had back-to-back completions for 51 yards to Rashaun Allen, a tryout tight end from Southern.

Zulli then rallied the Green team to a TD, which came on his 5-yard pass to Allen. But only after Zulli had scrambled twice for 27 yards on third-and-13 and third-and-12 plays and also hit three other passes for 45 yards – including a 12-yarder to tight end Cooper Helfet on fourth-and-2.

In addition to the final play interception, the defenses got two sacks from defensive end Cody Bauer, a tryout player from Rice; and one each from defensive ends Cassius Marsh, a fourth-round draft choice, Jackson Jeffcoat, one the nine rookie free agents signed after the draft; and Daniel Riley, a tryout player from Harding. Adding pass breakups were cornerback Jimmy Legree, another free-agent signing; Michael Dodson, a tryout safety from East Carolina; and Jon Davidson, a tryout corner from Idaho State.    

“We’re always looking for just that competitiveness, the guys that battle and come out just busting their tail and digging and scratching to get to the ball,” Carroll said. “We’re looking for that first. We’ll figure out their talent in time, but we want to get a sense for their nature.”

THIS (OPPORTUNITY FOR) PRICE WAS RIGHT

Price, the rookie free agent quarterback from the University of Washington, had called this three-day camp “an amazing opportunity” because of the reps he would get after seeing very limited time during the offseason program drills during the week. And Price made the most of it.

“Keith did really well,” Carroll said. “It’s like he’s been around longer than he has. He’s very comfortable. He’s a very natural quarterback. He’s very comfortable in the pocket. He moves very well. Made a lot of big throws, threw the ball down the field really well for us.

“So he did a very good job and looks like he could help us.”

A SUNDAY SAFETY: ERIC PINKINS

YOU DON'T SAY

“Pretty much everybody is a student-athlete, so you’ve got to be able to decipher the two. You’ve got to be able to do school and play sports. That’s the reason they have you in college because they believe that you can do that.”

Sixth-round draft choice Eric Pinkins, on taking his finals at San Diego State last week while other rookies were participating in the veterans’ offseason program

After spending the first two days at cornerback, Eric Pinkins worked at safety on Sunday. Pinkins played a hybrid “warrior safety” position at San Diego State where he covered the slot receiver at 6 feet 3, 220 pounds.

“We wanted to make sure that we could see him at both spots,” Carroll said. “It’s really good he can play in both spots, we’ll see how it works out.”

Said Pinkins, “I’m an athlete, so I’ll play wherever they want me to play.”    

PLAYS OF THE DAY: NON-SCRIMMAGE VARIETY

Offense: We’ll steer clear of the scrimmage here and go with Price’s TD pass to Allen in the first team drill of practice, as the tight end from Southern went up between four defenders to make the catch.

Defense: Again, in pre-scrimmage drills linebacker Mike Taylor ripped the ball from the grasp of the ball carrier and Korey Toomer recovered the fumble. And it’s a two-fer for Taylor; as he also broke up pass intended Helfet in the 7-on-7 drill.

UP NEXT: PHASE 2, WEEK 3

The veterans return to VMAC on Monday to begin the third, and final, week of Phase 2 in their offseason program. The week will be interrupted, of course, by a trip to Washington D.C. on Tuesday so the Super Bowl XLVIII champions can be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.