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Thursday in Hawkville: Coach Richard Sherman?

Posted Jun 12, 2014

Richard Sherman wasn’t on the field for the Seahawks’ final OTA session on Thursday. But the All-Pro cornerback did offer advice and encouragement from the sideline to Tharold Simon, who stepped in for him.

A recap of the activities at the Seahawks’ final OTA session at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on June 12:

FOCUS ON: THAROLD SIMON

Tharold Simon was hearing voices during the Seahawks’ final OTA session on Thursday. But it was a good thing.

With All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman being given the day off, Simon stepped in at left corner with the No. 1 defense. Stepped in? Simon stepped up, intercepting a pair of passes. After every snap – and sometimes even as the play was unfolding – the second-year corner was getting direction from defensive backs coach Kris Richard on the field and Sherman from the sideline.

“He was out there coaching me along the whole way, just giving me advice,” Simon said of Sherman. “If I messed up on something, right after the play he came to tell me what I messed up on, told me how to play it the next play. He was just out there just really helping us all get better.”

Was there ever too much coming Simon’s way?

“Sometimes he might tell you something that might throw you off a little,” Simon said through a smile. “But most of the time, it helps out a lot.”

And what a learning opportunity for Simon, getting personal instruction and tips from the cornerback who led the NFL in interceptions last season and also has the most picks (20) and passes defensed (60) in the league the past three seasons.

This is, and has been, a huge offseason for Simon, who was selected in the fifth-round of last year’s NFL Draft. He arrived with a stress fracture in one foot that prevented him from playing as a rookie and eventually needed surgery in December. Then, in February, he had surgery to repair a broken bone in his other foot.

The term Simon used to describe his longing to be a part of all the good things the Seahawks are doing is “hungry.”

STAT DU JOUR: IT REALLY IS ALL ABOUT THE BALL

Pete Carroll has discussed the importance of not turning the ball over while also taking it away twice in the past nine days – first at the Seahawks’ Town Hall at CenturyLink Field last Wednesday and again Tuesday during a staff meeting at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Holding a football aloft in his right hand, the team’s fifth-year coach emphasized, re-emphasized and then empathically underlined, “It’s all about the ball.” Carroll also was armed with statistics ample enough to underline all his emphasis: in nine seasons at USC, his teams where 53-0 when winning the turnover battle; and the Seahawks are 31-4 while doing it in his first four seasons, including playoffs. Here’s a closer look at just how well the players have carried out their coach’s edict, with the Seahawks’ record in games where they won the turnover battle and their ratio in those victories:

Season W-L Ratio
2010 4-0 Plus-9
2011 6-2 Plus-15
2012 8-1 Plus-18
2013 13-1 Plus-28
Totals 31-4 Plus-70

“Just watching those guys out there have fun and competing every day, it just makes you want to go there and just compete with them and just go out there to have fun,” Simon said. “It was very difficult, because as a football player you want to be out there.”

Now that he is out there – finally – Simon is showing the things that first attracted the Seahawks. He is 6 feet 3 and plays even taller because of his almost 33-inch arms. He is fast (4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day workout at LSU in 2013). He has hips that are more fluid than a corner his size (202 pounds) should. And his playmaking ability was on display Thursday, when he intercepted a Russell Wilson pass near the goal line and then picked off a Tarvaris Jackson pass in the end zone.

And before getting an earful – or two – on Thursday, Simon got an eyeful watching the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom secondary play to an All-Pro level last season. There was Sherman, and his league-leading eight interceptions. There was free safety Earl Thomas, also a first-team All-Pro selection who was the only player in the league with at least five interceptions and also 100 tackles. There was strong safety Kam Chancellor, a second-team All-Pro. There also was Byron Maxwell, who stepped into the starting lineup in December and intercepted four passes in his first five games.

“I learned just really going out there and competing and giving it your all,” Simon said. “I learned just the game is much faster and the quarterbacks are way better than what they are in college. Everything is on the money here, and everybody is great in the league.”

Now it’s Simon’s turn to be prodded toward greatness, if Richard Sherman has anything to say about it.

OSO SLIDE SURVIVOR WATCHES PRACTICE

Amanda Skorjanc, who suffered two broken legs, a broken arm and a shattered eye socket during the Oso landslide in April visited VMAC and watched practice. She was accompanied by his infant son, Duke, who had his skull broken; and neighbors who lost their wife/mother and granddaughter/daughter in the slide.

“It was like a movie,” Skorjanc, 25, said of the landslide. “Houses were exploding. The next thing I see is my neighbor’s chimney coming into the front door.”

Coach Pete Carroll and several of the players stopped on their way off the practice field to talk with Skorjanc.    

UP NEXT: ON TO THE MINICAMP

YOU DON'T SAY

“He’s doing a great job. He’s competing with Michael (Bowie). So when we get into training camp, we’ll see. But so far he’s pretty impressive.”

Pro Bowl center Max Unger on rookie right tackle Justin Britt

The veterans will conclude their offseason program next week with a mandatory three-day minicamp – presented by Tiffany & Co. – on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The rookies will then have a few more days of their offseason program.

And how do minicamp practices differ from OTA sessions?

“It’s just a longer day,” Pro Bowl center Max Unger said. “There’s a walkthrough in the morning. We just get more plays per day. There are less time restrictions and we’re able to do a little bit more off the field and then obviously the practices will be a little longer. But tempo and all that stuff will be pretty similar.”

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