Seahawks players have today off after four days of training camp practice, which makes this a good time to field some questions about the early stages of camp, or about whatever else happens to be on your minds. As always thanks to everyone who asked questions, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this week.
@HawksChronicle asks, "What second-year player looks like they will make the biggest jump from their rookie year?"
A: When it comes to the 2015 rookie class, receiver Tyler Lockett and running back Thomas Rawls were the standouts, and both will be expected to make big contributions again this season, but there are also a number of players heading into their second year who could take on much bigger roles in 2016 than they had the year before.
The first name that comes to mind for me is Frank Clark, who showed potential last year, but was limited in his playing time. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on the first day of camp that he wishes they had used the second-round pick more last year, and that they'll do so this season.
"I don't think we used him as much as we should have," Carroll said. "I think we should have forced him a little bit more. We look back and count his numbers, and I wish we would have gotten more play time out of him. That's why I am already telling you he is going to play a ton. We are going to get him all over the place and do all the things he can do. He's in really great shape. He looks phenomenal right now and he is really excited and pumped up for it, so if he can hold up with the kind of workload that we are talking about, he will be spotted all over the place."
Mark Glowiniski has a good chance to win the starting job at left guard, and if he does so that would mean going from one start last year to a very big role in 2016, so there's an obvious opportunity to make a big jump.
Two other options are receivers Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith, who both gained valuable experience last year after working their way from the practice squad to the active roster. Both are in a tight battle for roster spots, but if one or both is on the team, they'll benefit from the experience gained last year.
@RAYKation asks, "This is a make-or-break year for what player?"
A: Funny you should ask, because cornerback Tharold Simon used that exact phrase recently when talking about his fourth season in the NFL.
"It's definitely a big year for me," Simon said. "Four years in the league, I haven't really shown anything yet, so it's definitely a make-or-break year for me. I'm taking it on as that too. So I'm practicing, I'm in the meeting rooms studying hard, and hopefully everything turns out the way I want it to
Simon has missed almost all of two seasons with toe injuries, starting five games in 2014 in between those injuries. A healthy Simon could push for a starting job, or at least significant playing time, and if he's at his best, the Seahawks secondary will be that much deeper regardless of who wins the starting job at right cornerback.
Which brings us to…
@TruthisTold2U asks, "Could Simon make Josh Norman-like jump this year at cornerback?"
A: It's probably asking too much to expect Simon to match Norman's breakout season with the Panthers in 2015, in which Norman earned first-team All-Pro as well as Pro-Bowl honors. Then again, Richard Sherman did heap some pretty darn lofty praise on Simon Tuesday.
"He's an incredible athlete," Sherman said. "He's going to be a great ball player. I continue to stand by what I've always said—he's going to be better than me by the time it's all said and done. The kid's a player, he just needs to put it all together and hopefully he can stay healthy and it'll be a fantastic year for him."
For Simon to have a breakout year, he'll first have to stay healthy, but he'll also have to beat out some tough competition to get on the field. As things stand now, Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead are battling for the starting job at right corner, and both are with the first-team defense in nickel packages. If Simon plays well enough in camp and preseason games to look like a potential starter, that will give the Seahawks a tough decision to make, but that's obviously a good problem to have.
@KennardGred asks, "When was the inaugural practice for the Seahawks? Gotta be right around the 40th anniversary."
A: In fact, the 40th anniversary of Seattle's first training camp practice has already passed, as the Seahawks opened camp in Cheney, Washington on July 9, 1976. You can find information such as that on every Seahawks season at history.seahawks.com.
@kibbykibbykibby asks, "What's the running back competition looking like so far?"
A: The short answer is that the competition is currently incomplete. With Rawls opening camp on the PUP list, and with C.J. Prosise dealing with a hamstring injury, we've yet to see this position group at full strength, but even short-handed, the trio of Christine Michael, Alex Collins and Zac Brooks has been impressive. Michael, the veteran of the group, has usually been the first running back on the field when the Seahawks put their starting lineup out, but they've rotated Michael, Collins and Brooks pretty frequently, and all have looked good. Brooks in particular is getting more reps as the third-down back with Prosise out, and according to Carroll, the seventh-round pick is taking advantage of his opportunity.
"He's taking advantage of it," Carroll said. "He's had a couple of good days now, he's a very good catcher, he has receiving in his background, as well. He's a versatile player and he's made a really good first impression."
@AGarrett90 asks, "Tom Cable said J'Marcus Webb is behind because he missed OTAs. Do you think Terry Poole has a real chance to beat him out at right tackle?" And @TablerDotCom asks, "How has Germain Ifedi looked in pads? Would you say the O-Line has improved since last season?"
A: While Cable did say that about Webb, I don't think it was meant as a shot at the free-agent signing, but rather just a statement of fact after Webb missed most of offseason workouts. Cable is a no-nonsense type, so he's not going to sugar coat it if a player has catching up to do. At this point Webb still appears to be the favorite at right tackle, but of course Poole will get a fair shot to compete for the job.
As for Ifedi, or any lineman for that matter, it's really difficult to judge their play until we see them in a game situation, but Ifedi has impressed with his toughness and willingness to stick up for himself when mixing it up with Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett.
"He's very aggressive, very tough, and he's willing to stand up for himself on the first day," Carroll said Monday. "That's pretty good."
It's also too soon to make any predictions on how this line will stack up to last year's group, which finished the season strong, but players are optimistic about the group.
"Honestly I think we can be the best that I've seen since I've been here at least," said Garry Gilliam, last year's starting right tackle, who is now playing left tackle in hopes of taking over Russell Okung's old job. "We have great guys at every position, and even behind them, lots of competition. The ones, the twos and the threes, everyone's going to be pushing each other. We've got tons of talent, great athletes on the offensive line, so I'm really excited for it."
@scohenPI asks, "Six???"
A: A little background, this question comes from Stephen Cohen of the Seattle PI, referring to our daily training camp observations. Digital media content manager Tony Drovetto and I have each done three observations, giving us a total of six, and for some reason my friend Stephen thinks he invented the number six because he did six observations at one point, or something like that, and would prefer we stick to a more conventional number of observations like five or 10. Well sorry, Stephen—if that's even an acceptable spelling of Steven—we're sticking with six.
@Blitzin44 asks, "What do Seahawks players think about fantasy football?
A: I've heard players in the past talk about playing fantasy football, so at least some enjoy it, but I also know that others aren't fans. The biggest reason for a player to dislike fantasy football is that it dehumanizes them, treating them like commodities and not actual people. And when you combine that with the fact that social media now gives fans easy access to athletes, it's not uncommon for a running back or receiver to hear from fans who are unhappy with a player's production. Even worse is when an actual human suffering a serious injury is met with concerns about a fantasy team. So this year, if the star of your fantasy team gets hurt, don't complain that the injury might cost you a fantasy football championship, and especially don't tweet at that player saying as much.
@bedirthan asks, "What's the best punt from Jon Ryan so far?"
A: It was definitely his fourth punt during Monday's practice. He really boomed that one. OK, I just made that up, because I have to admit I don't watch a lot of punting during practice. But while we're on the topic, check out Ryan's latest podcast.
@Yeshly_Snipes asks, "Which undrafted free agents will find their way onto the 53-man roster?"
A: This question is almost impossible to answer this early in camp, but the Seahawks are excited about the group of undrafted players they signed following the draft, and based on Seattle's history, it's likely that a couple of undrafted rookies won't only make the team, but go on to become big contributors to the team.
As detailed in this story, undrafted rookies have played a huge role in Seattle's success in recent year.
"These guys that come in after the seventh round is over are just as valuable to us as anybody that we take in the draft, and we treat them with that thought," Carroll said before the draft. "The care that (general manager John Schneider) goes through with all of his guys to figure out the eighth-round pick, the ninth-round pick, the tenth, all those guys."
@kmasterman asks, "Who wins a Seahawks beat writer arm-wrestling tournament?"
A: Fans of unintentional comedy, that's who. I mean, look at how goofy we all look just trying to run.
Seahawks media members, Sea Gals and Blitz competed against each other at the Inaugural Seahawks.com Media Combine. See how their faces compared to their NFL Combine counterparts in the 40-yard dash.