Seahawks players are enjoying a day off from training camp today, which means now's a good time to take a look in the old mail bag—OK, my Twitter mentions—to field questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to ask questions this week, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours this time around.
@connorpulliam9 asks, "Who gets the starting running back job?" @jmclaugh31 and @olinepls also ask about the starting job at running back.
A: As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday, "it's way too early" to make that call, but overall that has been an impressive group. Chris Carson has looked very good thus far after earning rave reviews from Carroll during offseason workouts, but he's far from a lock to keep the job he held before last year's season-ending leg injury thanks to the likes of first-round pick Rashaad Penny and others pushing him. It's worth remembering, however, that running back is a position where two or three players can earn significant touches in any one game, so even if there's only one "starter" several backs could have a big impact on the offense. And given Seattle's injury history at running back the past three years, it's hardly a bad thing to have a lot of good options heading into the season.
"It's way too early," Carroll said of determining a pecking order at running back. "There's no reason to. We're just going to keep playing. Thrilled to have the guys we have. It's a really, really good group for us and the way they've reported, too – C.J. has never been in this kind of shape, we've never seen Chris in better shape, we're learning about Rashaad right now, (J.D.) McKissic is ridiculously fit. He plays so hard every single day, so it's a very good group."
@gnarlyraddad asks, "Who looks like the best safety combo in camp?" @ZGTangz also asks about the safety competition.
A: This too, falls into the "too early category," as we've seen multiple safety combinations throughout the first week of camp. Based on what the Seahawks have shown so far, Bradley McDougald has to be considered a strong favorite to open the season as one of Seattle's starters, but thanks to his flexibility, the Seahawks could go a number of ways with the other starting job. Tedric Thompson has been the No. 1 free safety when McDougald plays strong safety, but we've also seen McDougald at free safety with both Delano Hill and Maurice Alexander at strong safety.
"The safeties, they're unique and their makeup is unique," Carroll said. "We've had so many different guys over the years that, we fit the way we play to their style and all that, and I'm just excited to see what it is for us and then find out what that all means when it unveils itself.
@yo_ger asks, "How is the offensive line compared to last year's camp?"
A: Short answer: it's better.
Why? For starters, Duane Brown wasn't here during training camp last year, and he's a Pro Bowl left tackle. Of the starting lineup we've seen the most of so far—from left to right, Brown, Ethan Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi—there's a mixture of experience and youth, and players like Pocic, who started 11 games as a rookie, and Ifedi, who is heading into his second year as a tackle and third overall, should both only get better. Factor in the potential for continuity if that is indeed the starting lineup, and there are plenty of reasons to believe the 2018 line will take a big step forward from what it was last year.
The Seahawks also like their depth quite a bit, from players like tackle George Fant and guard Rees Odhiambo, who both have starting experience, to guard Jordan Roos, who showed potential in limited action last year, to just-signed veteran J.R. Sweezy, a longtime starter with Seattle and Tampa Bay.
ESPN's @minakimes asks, "Any word on what techno Thursday will be replaced with?"
A: Good news Mina—or maybe it's bad news, opinions vary quite a bit on this topic—Techno Thursday might not be dead yet. While Luke Willson, one of the pioneers of the Techno Thursday/short shorts movement, has moved on to Detroit, plenty of current Seahawks, including, not surprisingly, Nick Vannett, seem willing to keep it going, as was evident when camp opened last Thursday.
@LyfeLessons601 asks, "Has George Fant gotten any work at guard?"
A: Fant has just started easing back into practice work after missing last season with a knee injury. And while the Seahawks may decide at some point to look at Fant at multiple spots, for now he's still lining up at left tackle, the position he played in 2016 and was set to play in 2017 before his injury. Remember, Fant is a former college basketball standout who had almost no football background when he came to Seattle, so while his athletic ability suggests he could do a lot of things, the Seahawks won't overload him with too much as he returns from this injury.
@HolliWinters asks, "With Doug Baldwin temporarily sidelined, who is the slot receiver?"
A: The Seahawks prefer that their receivers can play multiple spots, so we've seen a number of players in the slot from play to play during Baldwin's absence, just as Baldwin plays outside as well as in the slot when he's healthy. If you're looking for a player who's skillset is similar to Baldwin's who has been making plays while the Pro-Bowler rests an injured knee, then the answer might be Keenan Reynolds. The Seahawks signed the former Navy quarterback this offseason, and he has impressed coaches so far, and perhaps most significantly for his chances of making the team, that includes special teams coordinator Brian Schneider.
"Once he got out here, he reminded me of Baldwin when Baldwin was first out here," Schneider said. "They have the same type of movements and he's been great. He can return punts, he's playing (personal protector) in our punt team, and we want to see him do a lot of different things because he's a guy that can do a lot of things. We wanted to see him in a bunch of different situations."
@wenfot asks, "What do you think the chances are for Jon Ryan to stay with the team? Does his leadership and experience count?"
A: I'm not going to put a number on it, but Ryan has a real shot to make this roster, as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has noted a number of times since Seattle selected Michael Dickson in the fifth round of this year's draft.
"He's in the competition," Carroll said. "Jon is battling. He's battling and he's going to battle. He ain't giving anything up easy. He's going for it. He's a great competitor, he's been a great player for us, and we're counting on that to continue to happen. We're fortunate to have a situation where we can take a guy that we thought could be worthy of the competition and that's what we did. So, the battle's on. Those guys are going… He's not backing off the challenge at all. He's ready for it and he's going for it, just the way that we would expect him to, and we're counting on him."
And yes, Ryan's experience and leadership matter, as does his skill as a holder, something he has done very well throughout his career.
And speaking of Ryan…
@SeaHawkersGer asks, "Who is funnier, Jon Ryan or Mr. Bean?"
A: Jon Ryan is very funny (though his wife, Sarah Colonna a professional comedian, is funnier), but I'd have to give the nod to Mr. Bean. We're talking about a character who had his own TV show, animated show and eventually a movie that grossed a quarter of a billion dollars here, so that's tough competition for a punter, no matter how funny he might be.
@Shaunblahblah asks, "Fellow child of the 80s, what was your favorite cartoon(s) growing up?"
A: Well, as my gif choice shows, I haven't given up cartoons even in my late 30s, but if we're talking non-adult cartoons like the Simpsons, South Park and Archer, then yes, my 80s and early 90s childhood was full of more age-appropriate cartoons (though I do recall plenty of debate with my parents about watching the Simpsons in its earliest years).
When I was younger, I remember watching the Smurfs, He-Man and the Transformers cartoons with my older brother. The late 80s brought one of my all-time favorites, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. I was also a fan of Duck Tales and the Animaniacs (some cartoons were good in my early teens), to name a few.
Practice photos from the Seahawks' fifth day of training camp along the shores of Lake Washington at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.