The Seahawks will be back on the field Thursday for their final day of organized team activities, bringing to an end the voluntary portion of the offseason workout program—next week brings mandatory minicamp. But before we turn our attention to that final OTA practice, it's time once again to answer questions from you, the fans. Thanks as always to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to your question this time around.
@StewartExpress asks, "Which second-year player makes the biggest improvement in 2018?"
A: There are a handful of players from last year's draft class who the Seahawks hope can take a leap in 2018. With Paul Richardson leaving in free agency, there's an opportunity for 2017 draft picks Amara Darboh and David Moore to earn more playing time. On defense, safeties Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson have impressed their coaches, but there's also veteran talent that could make it tough to get on the field in the form of Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald, and depending on the status of his neck injury, perhaps Kam Chancellor as well. Some rookies who saw significant time last year should only get better as well, including cornerback Shaquill Griffin, running back Chris Carson and guard Ethan Pocic. Cornerback and offensive line can both be tough positions for rookies, so while Griffin and Pocic played well last season, it's reasonable to expect they will be even better in 2018. One potentially interesting name to watch in camp that you didn't hear a lot last season is Mike Tyson, a second-year cornerback. Tyson, a sixth-round pick in 2017, was a safety in college, and as a result of learning a new position, didn't see the field much last year, spending most of the season on the practice squad. But now with a full year under his belt at corner, Tyson has a chance to take a big step in 2018.
Obviously the opportunity has to be there, but part of that equation is that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider want to see more young players create their opportunities to play by beating out veterans ahead of them. That's something that took place a lot early on under Carroll and Schneider, but less frequently in recent years because of the talent the team acquired from 2010 to 2012.
"It has been hard for these guys to get out there, especially on defense," Schneider said at the combine earlier this offseason. "We put guys out there right away, particularly on defense. Look, Earl (Thomas) played right away. Sherm (Richard Sherman) played right away. Maxie (Byron Maxwell) would have played right away if he hadn't gotten injured right away. Bobby (Wagner) played right away. K.J. (Wright). Those guys went, 'OK, here we go.' And so it's kind of a challenge and a mindset to get back to doing that—OK, let's go. Let's get these guys out there. Pete and I talk about it all the time—no one's talking about Delano (Hill) or (Tedric) Thompson. Those guys are good football players. … But it's been hard for those guys to get out there.
"And you are getting to the point where we are interviewing these guys at the combine or you are at the school interviewing them, and they are thinking to themselves 'Wow, I get to play with Kam Chancellor?' No, you get to compete with Kam Chancellor. That's the mindset we have to get back to. They are a little bit in awe, you know?"
And it's not just second-year players the Seahawks want to see step up, but players from the past couple of draft classes.
"The last two years, really," Schneider said. "We're looking for those guys to—look, we need C.J. (Prosise) to be a reliable dude. He's an extremely talented guy. There's guys from last year's class, Amara (Darboh), Delano, Tedric, we want those guys to get rolling. They've got to get out there and prove that reliability and not just be happy to be in Seattle because they're playing for a good football team and just kind of admiring these guys. No, you're there to compete man. We need you."
@wenfot asks, "I know @dangeRussWilson is a dog lover. Are there any other players who have pets?"
A: You are correct that Wilson has a couple of dogs, making him just one of several dog owners on the team, a group that also includes Bradley McDougald, whose two French bulldogs are father and son, Bobby Wagner, and Duane Brown. Twin brothers Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin have a dog back home in Florida, but Shaquem said they also plan on getting a Shih Tzu that will live with them here. Rookies Tre Flowers and Michael Dickson also have dogs back home. At one point, C.J. Prosise had a turtle named Benji, though I haven't checked lately if that's still the case. Perhaps most unique, however, is rookie defensive end Rasheem Green's pet, a chameleon named Leek.
And speaking of Green…
@HawkPapa84 asks, "How has Rasheem Green looked since he arrived in Seattle?"
A: For starters, Green certainly looks the part of an NFL defensive end, and he moves well for a 6-foot-4, 279-pound human—hence his being a prospect worthy of a third-round pick. But it's worth noting that with Green or any offensive or defensive lineman, it's just way, way too early to really know how their size and athleticism will translate to the field come September. What is taking place right now in OTAs is useful for the team, but with no pads and no contact to speak of, it's still a ways from being real football, especially for those in the trenches. That said, here's what Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said about Green back in rookie minicamp: "You could see after the first day that he's really well coached. You could see that he's got a real sense for rushing the passer. His movements and kind of his transitions in and out of his movements – he's an experienced kid for a 20-year old. So that means he's been coached really well and he's a good natural athlete. It's really obvious in the camp. He looks like he would have a chance to do what we need him to do. It doesn't look like he has a million miles to go."
@RyGuyCurtiss, "Do penguins have knees?"
A: According to this informative article on the website of the New England Aquarium, yes, penguins do indeed have knees even though they waddle as if they do not. How 'bout that? Learned something new today. Now, let's all enjoy a minute and a half of penguins waddling (with knees, apparently):
@AIllikainenFan asks, "How many receivers are the Seahawks going to keep this season?"
A: The most common number under Carroll and Schneider has been six receivers, though there has been some fluctuation there with the Seahawks sometimes keeping five or seven receivers. Factors that go into that range from the overall talent there, the ability of the players at that position to play on special teams, and sometimes depth elsewhere where there can be some overlap such as running back or tight end—for example, the Seahawks opened last season with five receivers, but running back J.D. McKissic essentially gave them depth at two positions having played both receiver and running back during his career.
As for this year's team, it's way too soon to know what five or six players will win jobs, but it figures to be a pretty wide open battle for jobs and playing time behind Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Brandon Marshall, a six-time Pro Bowler, also seems pretty likely to contribute to the offense if he's right physically, but at 34 and coming off of two surgeries, he knows he has plenty to prove in training camp and the preseason.
One interesting factor this season when it comes to roster construction, not just at receiver but at every position, could be the new kickoff rules. Carroll noted that personnel could change on kickoffs with teams maybe using more skilled athletes and fewer big players, so in theory that could open up an extra roster spot for a receiver, running back or defensive back.
"One of the differences may be just in personnel and the kind of personnel that you can use because of the criteria to now line up at about the 50-yard line and take off and run thirty-something yards," Carroll said. "Are you going to have some guys sitting back there that you can use bigger people? It's going to come, we think, from maybe more skilled athletes on those teams. We just have to learn what that's going to mean in terms of the guys that make the roster and maybe a more general application of other athletes that haven't been called on in some new areas. It'll be fun to figure it out. We're working at it and experimenting every day and trying to learn and gather as much information as we can. We really aren't going to know until we start doing it in camp and when we get the pads on."
@RAYKation asks, "If the Mariners have a playoff game while the Seahawks are playing, which do you watch? Which do we watch?"
A: Well seeing as it's my job and all, I'd be watching the Seahawks game, but as somebody who grew up a Mariners fan, I'd definitely be keeping an eye on both. As for people who don't have a professional obligation to watch one or the other, get two TVs, or go to a sports bar and watch both. With the Mariners looking to end a playoff drought, let's hope this hypothetical dilemma occurs for Seattle sports fans.
@scohenSEA asks, "What is your favorite color?"
A: Red. But more importantly, thanks for making me think of this and sending me down the YouTube rabbit hole of Monty Python videos.