The pads came off at Day 7 of Seahawks Training Camp which was a lighter day as the team prepares for tomorrows mock game.
The Seahawks will play a mock-game Saturday, which won't exactly be a full scrimmage, but will look a lot more like game action than a typical practice. And with that on the horizon, Friday's practice, the seventh of Seahawks training camp presented by Bing, was a brief one, lasting just 1 hour, 15 minutes, and though faster than a walk-through, this was definitely a lighter workout than usual.
As such, there weren't as many takeaways from this practice as we might usually have, so instead, here are a few brief observations, followed by three things to watch for in Saturday's mock-game.
- Second-year receiver Kevin Norwood had the play of the day, leaping to catch a long touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. Norwood had a few more catches Friday, another encouraging sign for the fourth-round pick out of Alabama who missed camp with a foot injury last year, then struggled to find playing time during the season.
- Your obligatory daily offensive line update: Alvin Bailey was back taking most of the reps with the first-team at left guard after rookie Kristjan Sokoli had seen a lot of time there the previous two days. Drew Nowak and Lemuel Jeanpierre again split time with the starters at center. It has been a full week now, and it appears those two are the only real candidates for the starting job, at least based on what we've seen at practice.
- Is it really even worth mentioning if Tyler Lockett looked good again? Sure it is. Yes, the rookie receiver has been highlighted nearly daily for his play, but for good reason. Lockett has yet to play a single snap of an NFL game, so all the hype has to be taken with a grain of salt, but so far, the third-round pick is clearly one of the stars of camp.
- Dion Bailey missed the first few days of camp, but the second-year safety seems to be finding himself around the ball quite a bit since returning to action. On Friday, Bailey had an interception that was one of the defensive highlights of the day.
The Seahawks made one roster move Friday, claiming safety Robert Smith off waivers from Indianapolis and waiving safety Ty Zimmerman. Smith, who is listed at 5-10, 204 pounds, originally signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson in May. Smith will wear No. 30.
Now, let's look ahead to Saturday:
1. Will the new standout pass-catchers shine again?
As mentioned in this space a couple days ago, Seattle's returning starters at receiver, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, are both enjoying very strong camps, but for fans who haven't been to camp yet, this mock-game will be a great chance to see a pair of new additions who have been two of the biggest standouts through the first week of camp: Lockett and tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham quite frankly looks unstoppable at times, making catches over defensive backs and linebackers who appear to have perfect coverage. Hopefully he'll see plenty of action against the first-team defense, which would mean not just some great matchups, but also some good friendly banter between the two sides.
As for Lockett, as mentioned above, he has stood out on nearly a daily basis, not just with his athleticism but also by showing veteran savvy as a rookie. As Doug Baldwin noted Thursday, "He's a lot more polished than I was as a rookie," which is high praise considering Baldwin led the Seahawks in both receptions and receiving yards as a rookie.
2. How do the new corners hold up?
For most of the past three seasons, there has been little concern about the Seahawks when it came to cornerback play, but with Byron Maxwell leaving in free agency and Tharold Simon and Jeremy Lane both on the physically unable to perform list, the team that has been the best in the NFL at developing cornerbacks in recent years is suddenly facing questions about its depth at the position.
Cary Williams was one of Seattle's top free-agent signings, and so far has been the starter at right corner. The depth behind him and Richard Sherman is where things become a lot less clear, and in addition to all the players who were on the roster to open camp, two new faces will be looking to make an impression at corner: Mohammed Seisay, who was acquired in a trade with Detroit on Sunday, and Douglas McNeil III, who isn't actually new to the team, but who moved from receiver to cornerback on Thursday.
The Seahawks should get Tharold Simon back at some point in camp—Pete Carroll said they have a preseason game targeted for him, though he wouldn't say which one—but Lane, who is recovering from knee and arm injuries suffered in the Super Bowl, is likely out longer, so developing some depth to complement veterans like Sherman, Williams, Will Blackmon, and Marcus Burley will be imperative between now and the start of the season.
3. How do the line rotations shake out on both sides of the ball?
The Seahawks have two starting spots up for grabs on the offensive line, and Sokoli's move from center to guard, and subsequent work with the first team, indicates that he will push Bailey for the starting job, even if the third-year vet appears to have the edge for now. As mentioned above, center looks like a two-man battle for now, but it seems wide open between Jeanpierre and Nowak. Beyond the starters, it will be interesting to see how the depth looks behind the starters. It's very rare in the NFL for a team to play the same starting five all season long, so it's likely some of the young players Seattle added this offseason will play at some point, even if they're not with the starters right now.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks appear to have a starting line, both base and nickel, set for now—Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin in the base, and Bennett, Avril, Jordan Hill and Bruce Irvin in the nickel—but more than most teams, the Seahawks like to use a deep line rotation to keep players fresh. So even if those players are the starters for now, plenty more have a chance to earn significant playing time, and Saturday will be a good chance for those players to shine.