The Seahawks kicked off mandatory minicamp Tuesday, three days of practice that head coach Pete Carroll called "a culmination of a long process," referring to the offseason workout program that will come to an end later this week.
"This is the final phase of all this offseason work that we've had, and it's kind of a culmination of a long process," Carroll said. "We have a lot of guys out here working, that's great. We get a chance to continue to see the new guys as much as we can to get as much information as we can going into the break. Things have gone really well, this was good hard work today, guys again brought their attitude. We're getting a lot done. It's going well.
"The energy has been fantastic really. It's in the air, you can feel that the guys are attentive and focused and involved and having fun. You watch how we do it, the energy out here was great again today. This is—what are we, six, seven weeks into the work on the field—this is excellent. The leadership is doing a great job of setting it in motion, and the young guys who are here for the first time or guys who are here for the first time, they're sensing what it's like to be part of this program, and they're full-on going and having fun with it. We play and practice at a really high level and with a lot of energy, and we've seen nothing but that. It has been great."
In addition to that "fantastic" energy, here are five things that stood out from Tuesday's practice and Carroll's press conference that followed:
1. Bradley McDougald and the young safeties are stepping up with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor absent.
Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, Seattle's longtime starting safeties, are not at minicamp, Chancellor because he is still awaiting more tests on a neck injury to determine his status going forward, and Thomas because he is seeking a new contract. Carroll and the Seahawks would obviously prefer to have everyone in attendance, but the head coach also likes what he is seeing from that position group absent its two Pro-Bowlers.
"I wish he was here, that would be nice," Carroll said of Thomas. "But we're focusing on the guys who are here."
Asked what he has seen at safety this offseason, Carroll led off praising the play and leadership of Bradley McDougald, who started nine games last season, two at free safety in place of Thomas, and seven at strong safety after Chancellor sustained his season-ending injury.
"Bradley has really taken the lead, and just as he did last year when he played, he just picked right up and came in," Carroll said. "He has started a lot of football games in the league, he's got a lot of background and it shows. He's very confident and he's a good communicator and he helps people, just like our guys need to, so he has just embraced that from the first day. So that's not a problem at all."
Carroll also likes what he has seen out of 2017 draft picks Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson, and has high hopes for free-agent signing Maurice Alexander, though the former Rams starter is currently sidelined as he rehabs a shoulder injury.
"Tedric Thompson has always looked really good on the back end, Delano Hill is another guy that we're really excited about too," Carroll said. "When we picked them a couple of years ago, we thought someday they're going to be players out here, so they're making their pitch. Mo Alexander hasn't had a chance yet because we're resting him with his shoulder that's in rehab, but Mo's an exciting player to add in here too. He's a big hitter, real physical kid, he's played a lot of football. So he brings experience and toughness-he's almost 230 pounds, he's a big kid back there. So it's a good group, it's a really good group."
Carroll also noted that second-year defensive back Mike Tyson, a sixth-round pick last year, is getting some work at safety. Tyson played safety at the University of Cincinnati, but was moved to cornerback last year, spending most of the season on the practice squad.
"Mike is working at safety," Carroll said. "We moved him there to take a look at him there. Most of his background is at safety. We wanted to see him in a coverage role, we wanted to see what he did, he's playing some nickel spot stuff for us as well. So he's showing good versatility. Mike's a good ballplayer. He's right in the middle of a competition so we'll see what it means later on."
2. McDougald's versatility is a big asset.
Just as was the case last year when McDougald started games at both safety spots, he has also worked at both free and strong safety during offseason workouts. McDougald's ability to play both of those spots, as well as playing as a third safety in sub-packages, as he did last year when both Thomas and Chancellor were healthy, is a big plus for Seattle's defense.
"He brings us such versatility and experience that we're very comfortable moving him around and matching him up with people, as we did last year at times," Carroll said. "He can do everything that you need a guy to do. He's good on the back end, very effective up at the line of scrimmage, and he's a really good cover guy. So he brings a nice package to us and we don't have any problem spotting him around doing all kinds of things. He could play in a game, back and forth, in different spots because he's that well-versed in what's going on."
3. Young receivers are taking advantage of their opportunities.
Two of the standouts on offense during Tuesday's practice were players who will be fighting for roster spots come August, former Navy quarterback-turned-receiver Keenan Reynolds, and 2017 seventh-round pick David Moore, a player who spent most of last year on the practice squad. Doug Baldwin was a spectator during Tuesday's practice, just getting a chance to rest, Carroll said, and with the team's top receiver not on the field, Moore and Reynolds stepped up.
"If you watched practice today, Keenan had a really good day," Carroll said. "He took advantage—we're resting Doug (Baldwin) today and in this camp. Doug has had a fantastic offseason. So Keenan, in his spot, just jumped out today. I talked to him earlier, said, 'Pretty good opportunity for you these next couple of days here.' And he said, 'Yeah, I know, I'm watching. I'm going to be there.' And he lit it up today. I was really excited for him. He's a great kid, and you can see why he was a leader and a bigtime player and all that, and he's going to make a bid for where he fits in.
"David Moore has been special for us, he's a very, very good athlete. He came from a really small program, and he wasn't able to catch it all in stride until late in the season when we finally got him active the last week, but you can see the playmaking ability. We're already trying to figure out ways to move him around so he can show off what he's got. He doesn't look like it, but he's a real strong kid, probably 218 pounds, and he's physical. We're really excited to see him like we did in preseason last year with run after catch stuff. He's had a very good camp, he has made a big jump—made the freshman-sophomore jump, and it's exciting to see that."
4. It's early in the process, but "everything has been positive" with the adjustment to new coordinators on both sides of the ball.
Carroll made some significant changes to his coaching staff in the offseason, bringing Ken Norton Jr. back to Seattle as the defensive coordinator, and hiring Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Solari as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. There's still a lot of work to get done between now and the start of the season, but Carroll is encouraged by what he has seen so far out of his team as it adjusts to those changes.
"We're just getting started, you know, but everything has been positive about the transition to a new voice on both sides of the ball," he said. "Kenny is not a big transition for us because he's been with us so long and with our system and all that, so that's a real natural smooth move. There's more of a transition with Schotty and Solari on the offensive side. Both those guys are so well-versed and so experienced in the league. They made great sense of our scheme and mixing the things that they wanted to bring in to us so we're off and running. I'm really pleased and really excited about what they're doing. The players have responded. There's some different scheme stuff that we're doing and some different principles. In particular, I've seen Russell and Doug and Tyler (Lockett) really take off with some of the stuff that we're doing. So it's been good to see the process of this transition and we're really only just getting started. But only positive stuff so far so it's very good."
5. A couple of injury updates.
Two veterans who were absent from voluntary workouts, defensive end Frank Clark and cornerback Byron Maxwell, were back on the field Tuesday. Clark, however, was limited in his workload because of what Carroll described as "a little hamstring that's been bothering him throughout the offseason."
While the Seahawks have Maxwell back at cornerback, they are currently without another player at that spot, free-agent signing Dontae Johnson. Carroll said Johnson "broke a bone in his foot about 10 days ago" and is recovering from surgery.
Photos from the first practice of the Seattle Seahawks' three-day mandatory minicamp held Tuesday, June 12 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.