Former Seahawks safety and current NFL Network personality Jordan Babineaux, perhaps better known as "Big Play Babs" in these parts, joined Delta Air Lines Radio Network executive producer Matt "Stretch" Johnson's 'The Daily Stretch' podcast on Seahawks.com earlier this week.
The full audio file with the seven-year Seahawk is embedded for you above and three key takeaways from the pair's conversation are laid out for you below. You can catch Babineaux on the airwaves again this Friday night, when he'll join the Seahawks pregame and postgame shows from the team's first preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. PT - two hours prior to kickoff - on 710 ESPN Seattle.
1. What He's Watching At Seahawks Training Camp
Like seemingly everyone else at Seahawks camp this summer, Babineaux said he's used the team's early practices to keep a close eye on Jimmy Graham, the three-time Pro Bowl tight end acquired in an offseason trade with the New Orleans Saints. Babineaux commented on what the 6-foot-7, 265-pound pass catcher will add to the Seahawks' offense.
"If I'm Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, I have a lot at my disposal," Babineaux said. "I have the option to hand the ball off to Beast Mode [Marshawn Lynch], who's one of the best running backs in the NFL for the last five or six years. Now I have one of the best tight ends in the NFL for the last four years in Jimmy Graham. It's been since 2007 since the Seahawks have had a receiver go over 1,000 yards. The last to do it? Bobby Engram."
That's not to say Babineaux expects Graham to burst on the scene in Seattle and hit the 1,000-yard mark, though, even if Graham did average more than 1,000 yards receiving over the past four seasons. But those numbers came in a pass-happy Saints offense, one that threw the ball 659 times last season, the second-most in the NFL. The Seahawks, meanwhile, tossed the ball 454 times - least in the NFL - as they relied on the legs of Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson.
"Here in Seattle, I think when you have the number one, number two running game in the NFL with Beast Mode, make no doubt about it, it still starts with 24," Babineaux reminded. "But in the passing game you have the option to do more. You'll see more roll out, more passes getting Russell Wilson to the edge where he has the option to throw or he has the option to run. And those plays right there really can't be drawn up or taught, it's all based on discretion of the quarterback and Russell Wilson at his disposal has those options."
2. The Secondary Is Seattle's Biggest Question Mark On Defense
With strong safety Kam Chancellor yet to report to camp, free safety Earl Thomas' work limited as his continues to come back from offseason shoulder surgery, and cornerback Byron Maxwell signing with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, there's been plenty of fresh faces roaming the Seattle secondary of late.
Offseason free-agent addition Cary Williams has seen the most time in place of Maxwell on the right side of the defense, Steven Terrell has been subbing for Thomas, and DeShawn Shead and Dion Bailey have each seen time in Chancellor's place. With Jeremy Lane (arm/knee) and Tharold Simon (shoulder) starting the year on the team's physically unable to perform list, there's also new names in the mix at the nickel cornerback spot, where Will Blackmon has been the favorite being pushed by Marcus Burley and rookie Tye Smith.
"With the young guys stepping in, it presents an opportunity for them to show they can play in this league and that they belong," Babineaux said of the new-look 'Legion of Boom.' "But I think defensively, the secondary probably has to be the biggest question mark as we sit here today."
Thomas started the year on the PUP list with Lane, Simon, and receiver Paul Richardson. But the free safety was activated last week after passing his physical, a move that has allowed him to participate in the team's walk-through practices each night. By head coach Pete Carroll's estimation, Thomas is "a couple weeks away" from taking live-action snaps, but Babineaux shared an encouraging anecdote indicating the team's starting free safety appears to already be in good health.
"Earl Thomas has had offseason surgery, but he seems to be progressing well," Babineaux said. "In fact, we were on camera doing some talk-over, kind of explaining practice for Seahawks.com and he comes over and tackles me, basically drives me back five or 10 yards. I figured he was doing OK and the shoulder didn't bother him, but if that was a measure to where he is I certainly think he's on schedule and not too much favoring that injury anymore."
3. What Separates Pete Carroll From Other NFL Coaches?
Seattle's Pete Carroll was the clear winner of a 2014 anonymous survey by ESPN that asked more than 320 NFL players, "Which head coach would you most like to play for?" Carroll took home 72 votes (23 percent), the most in the League (Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin finished second with 44 votes).
"I'm surprised by that," Carroll told ESPN.com's Terry Blount at the time. "But, hey, free agency is a big deal to us. Maybe that can help us down the road."
Babineaux, who played under Carroll in 2010 and who has several close friends still on the team, offered insight into what it is that puts Carroll ahead of the League's 31 other coaches.
"He wears two hats, and when he's out on the field, he's coach," Babineaux said. "He's also a mentor. He's also an encourager. He's also, in a sense, dad to a lot of players. Then inside, when he's in the building, he removes that hat, puts on another one and he's looking at the roster, trying to ensure that he has the best possible players out there competing for one spot, which ultimately benefits the team.
"So I think there's a nice balance between how Pete operates as coach and how he operates as manager, and a lot of it is built throughout the relationships, and as you said the communication with the players. Because one of the things he does every day is that he goes to every player and he basically asks them how they're doing, says hello, and forms that level of player-coach bond that a lot of fans don't get a chance to see."
Only three days away from the first preseason game, positional battles played a large part on Day 10 of Seahawks Training Camp presented by Bing.