After the Seahawks wrapped up their third day of organized team activities Friday, a "really fired up" Pete Carroll met with the media to discuss what he has seen this week as well as a number of other topics about his team.
"We're off to a great start," Carroll said. "I'm really fired up."
In addition to some health updates provided by Carroll, here are five things that stood out from Friday's press conference.
1. The Seahawks changed things up a bit for this year's OTAs.
While nothing changed too drastically, the format of this year's OTAs is a little different than what the team has done in previous years. In particular, Carroll noted that they are getting more of the running-game work done during walk-thru practices, shortening the main afternoon practice.
"We've done some adjustments to the way we're doing our work and the players have really taken to it," Carroll said. "We've found a good way to get a lot of turns, get a lot of reps for the young guys and make progress with our experienced guys as well. So things are going well. You notice we weren't on the field as long as we have been. We kind of mixed our format some and it has worked out great."
2. There's flexibility in this offensive line.
While starting jobs on the offensive line are far from settled, one thing Carroll really likes about the group is the flexibility several players have to play multiple spots. Luke Joeckel and Rees Odhiambo have both seen time at left guard and left tackle, creating something of a three-players-for-two-spots competition on the left side with George Fant trying to keep the starting job at left tackle.
Rookie Ethan Pocic, a center for most if his college career, spent most of rookie minicamp at right tackle, but worked more at guard this week, Carroll said.
"That's exactly what it's doing, it's giving us a chance to make the decisions way down the road of what's best," Carroll said. "Luke has played both spots, Rees has played both spots too in the past. We just want to get a lot of flexibility, it helps us when we make decisions of how we fit guys together when we play. It is working out great so far. We're getting it done on both sides too. Pocic got a lot of work at guard today. That's exactly what we had hoped to gain a lot of information about these guys early on and get them comfortable with being able to be flexible for us."
Another player who can play multiple spots is Germain Ifedi, last year's first-round pick who, after playing right guard as a rookie, is now working at right tackle.
"He looks very comfortable," Carroll said. "His footwork is really good there, he looks like he'll have no trouble making that transition mentally. He's so much farther along. And I can't even tell you how much farther along George Fant is. If you guys have seen George, George looks entirely different. He had a tremendous offseason working out. He's probably 15, 17 pounds heavier than he was, and it's all muscle and strength work that he has put forth. He has presented himself the best we've seen him too. I'm really excited about him too."
3. Veterans are helping the rookies fit in.
One interesting element of OTAs is that they are the first time a new crop of rookies can to take the field with established veterans. So far, Carroll likes how he is seeing the veterans take rookies under their wings.
"Everything looks good, very smooth so far," Carroll said. "The guys are doing a really good job of teaching, the older guys. They know and they're acknowledging the guys are new, and they're helping. You can see them putting their arm around them, talking to them and bringing them along, just like our guys have done. They're already trying to establish a connection with the young guys to help them. Our experienced players know that they are vital to us and they're going to be a part of everything we're doing. They quicker they can bring them along, the more they'll be able to help us and so they're competing to get that done."
4. The Seahawks should be competitive everywhere this year.
Asked what position groups could be the most competitive in training camp this year, Carroll started by talking about the offensive line, then moved onto receivers and running backs. After a pause, Carroll went ahead and rattled off pretty much every position group on both sides of the ball, and he wasn't doing that to avoid making a decision; he just really likes the depth on this team and how that depth will created competition everywhere.
"I think this should be the most competitive camp we've had, depth wise, and that's just attributed to what happened in the draft, guys coming back off of injuries and the guys we've been able to acquire," Carroll said. "It should be a really hard-nosed, tough camp for us."
5. The Seahawks had a "very productive" visit with Colin Kaepernick.
Asked about bringing in quarterback Colin Kaepernick for a free-agent visit, Carroll said the two sides had a good meeting, and was very complimentary of the former 49ers starter even though he remains unsigned.
"It was another opportunity for us to keep abreast of what's available to help our team," Carroll said. "We've done it in a million ways, John (Schneider) continues to work at every turn to figure out what's available, what we could do, does it fit, does it not fit? Colin has been a fantastic football player, and he's going to continue to be. At this time, we didn't do anything with it, but we know where he is and who he is, and we had a chance to understand him much more so. He's a starter in this league, and we have a starter. But he's a starter in this league and I can't imagine that somebody won't give him a chance to play."
Carroll called the meeting "very productive for us to get to know him better," and came away impressed with Kaepernick.
"He's a great kid," he said. "He communicates well, he's got a big world he's living in. He's an NFL quarterback, he's got other issues he's concerned about. He's capable of being a championship guy. He has demonstrated that over years. He has been up and down in his career some, but he has shown enough ups that you know he can do that. I thought he presented himself very well."
As for where things stand for the Seahawks right now at quarterback, Carroll likes what he has seen from last year's backup, Trevone Boykin, but also sees room for competition at that spot, whether that comes from Jake Heaps pushing Boykin, or from someone not currently on the roster.
"We're still trying to develop it and make sure we're making the right decisions," Carroll said. "We'll continue to work at it. Trevone continues to need to be pushed. Jake is doing that right now, but that doesn't mean that we're done. We're going to continue to look for ways to make it more competitive and put us in the best position where, if it counts, now you need that second guy in there, he can go in there and do some good stuff. He did an admirable job last year as a rook doing it. He'll be better, he looks better, he's much more in command of what we're doing. It takes years and years to develop these guys, and he's in Year 2, so I expect him to continue to get better. We know he can play for us, that's what we do know."
The Seahawks held their third of seven Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Friday, June 2 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.