Almost lost in all the conversation about contracts that were or weren't finalized, or about who did or didn't report to camp is the fact that there was actual football—OK, actual football practice—taking place Friday.
So what did we see on Day 1 of camp? Here are a few observations
1. Safety Depth Is Being Tested From Day 1
OK, so we are going to briefly have to touch players who weren't on the field. With Earl Thomas opening the year on the physically unable to perform list, and with Kam Chancellor not reporting to camp, the Seahawks were without both of their Pro Bowl safeties Friday. DeShawn Shead, who had been filling in at free safety with the first-team defense for Thomas during OTAs and minicamp, moved to Chancellor's strong safety spot, while Steven Terrell played free safety.
The Seahawks have a lot of confidence in Shead, who has filled in for Chancellor in the past, and who has also become one of the team's core special teams contributors.
"I'm really excited about DeShawn Shead," Carroll said. "He's been such a great player on our team and waiting for his opportunity. I said to the guys last night, nobody comes here to be a great backup. They don't dream about, 'oh I'm going to be a heck of a backup in the NFL,' they dream about playing. DeShawn Shead's chance is up right now. Unfortunately Kam's not here right now, but the fact he isn't, it's like he's hurt for us. We go to the next guy, we expect him to play up, we've always done that. Now is D-Shead's opportunity and we'll see how he does."
Terrell, who spent time on the active roster and practice squad last season, playing both cornerback and safety, has big shoes to fill replacing Thomas, a three-time, first-team All-Pro, but Carroll did say, "He's as fast as Earl, and he's about the same size, so our expectation is he's going to try to figure out how to fill it like he can. I don't think anybody's like Earl, but he's going to do it in his way, and we'll figure out what that means. We've got to coach and we've got to compete, that's what we're doing and we can only coach the guys who are here and out there, so we're very committed to that."
As for Chancellor's absence, Carroll said "I don't see it as disruptive. There's so much going on, everybody's pushing to make the most of this. I don't think it's disruptive at this point, but we miss him."
Carroll also added some praise for Chancellor without being asked: "Kam Chancellor has been an amazing Seahawk. He has been a great part of this team; we love him in every way. He stands for exactly what we love about this game and being a Seahawk. We want him back here immediately if we can get it done. We're going to try to figure it out as we go through it."
2. Jimmy Graham Looked Like, Well Jimmy Graham
The Seahawks' splashiest offseason addition wasted little time showing what he can bring to an offense, making several catches in his first training camp practice with Seattle. Graham looked big, fast and adept at catching the ball, which is pretty much exactly why the Seahawks traded for him in March.
"Oh man, it was awesome," Carroll said of Graham's camp debut. "He was all over the place catching balls. What an exciting addition for a club, everybody can feel it."
3. Marshawn Lynch Looks Like He's Ready To Pick Up Where He Left Off
With Lynch once again missing voluntary offseason workouts, and not participating in, though attending, the mandatory minicamp, this was Lynch's first practice work with his team since last season. And as has been the case in previous years, Lynch came back looking fit, nimble and ready to go despite spending that time away from the team. In particular, Lynch looked good catching several passes out of the backfield.
"He looked good," Carroll said. "He looked good today. He took his reps and looked quick and caught the ball real nice. It was a great first day."
4. Jeanpierre & Nowak Are Leading The Center Competition, For Now At Least
Offensive line coach Tom Cable has referred to the battle to replace Max Unger at center as one of the best competitions at camp, and for now at least, it looks like Lemuel Jeanpierre and Drew Nowak are leading that competition. Jeanpierre got the most first-team reps Friday, but Nowak, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, also worked with the starters. That left Patrick Lewis, who started four games last season, and rookie Kristjan Sokoli working with the backups. It's worth noting, however, that the Seahawks have been known to let one player get all or most the first team reps one week, then change it up the next week, most notably in 2012 with the quarterback competition. So until we get further into camp, it's too early to declare this a two-man race.
"We have four centers, so Tom's got to work out," Carroll said. "This is a really good focal point in camp, it's a great camp competition for us. (Jeanpierre and Nowak) were sharing the ones and Patrick and Kristjan were working the twos and threes. We'll see how that goes… We're not going to shut the door on any of the four guys. It's just open competition, and we'll see how it goes."
5. The Rookies You'd Expect To Stand Out Did
It's going to take time for the rookies to really get settled, but it should come as no surprise that the first two players picked by Seattle in this year's draft stood out the most. Receiver Tyler Lockett, Seattle's third-round pick, continues to stand out with his quickness and natural ball-catching ability, and when you factor in his return ability, it's hard to imagine him not making an immediate impact this season. Second-round pick Frank Clark, meanwhile, found himself in the backfield quickly a number of times. Clark is listed as a defensive end, but the Seahawks see him as a versatile player who can move around in different situations, and in fact much of his playing time Friday came as an interior rusher in nickel packages.
But if you are looking for a lesser-known rookie who stood out Friday, how about undrafted rookie Tyrell Adams? Adams, who played at West Georgia, made one of the better plays of the day, recognizing, then blowing up a screen pass, nearly intercepting the throw, earning some enthusiastic praise from first-teamers on the sideline.
Emptying Out The Notebook
There was one new face in camp, Ty Zimmerman, an undrafted rookie out of Oregon State. Zimmerman, who lead the Beavers in tackles the past two seasons, didn't practice having just arrived Friday. There was a vacant roster spot because Chancellor is currently on the reserve/did not report list and does not count towards the 90-man roster until he reports… Eric Pinkins, a former defensive back who is moving to strongside linebacker, may still have work to do to get comfortable at a new position, but his athleticism at that position stands out… Somewhat fittingly, new cornerback Cary Williams, the leading candidate to replace Byron Maxwell at right cornerback, was tested deep on one of the first plays of 11-on-11 drills, and he passed the test, breaking up a pass intended for Jermaine Kearse… Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was back on the field after sitting out of offseason workouts, though he didn't participate in all of team drills. With Mebane's reps apparently being limited, Jordan Hill got a lot of work with the first-team base defense alongside Tony McDaniel… While Clark was impressive as an interior pass-rusher in the nickel defense, the second-string base defense featured Cassius Marsh and Greg Scruggs at end with Ahtyba Rubin and D'Anthony Smith at tackle… A capacity crowd of 2,600 enjoyed the opening day of camp.
The players hit the field for the first day of 2015 SeahawksTraining Camp presented by Bing.