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Tim Ruskell on the Importance of Mini-Camps

Tim Ruskell talks about why mini-camp sets the tone for the rest of the year.

This time of year is critical because we are trying to figure out what we're going to look like come September when the games are real. Who is going to be able to help us? How quickly will they be able to help us?

I'm talking about free agents and rookies, and guys who were kind of on the bubble by the end of last year. That's one important part of what we're doing out there this time of year.

The other critical aspect of right now is the coaches have made changes and we're getting a first look on the field. With the new coaches coming in and tweaking the playbook, they now have a chance to see what will work and who will work in those situations. Or ... what won't work and who can't get the job done. So they're going through the playbook on both sides of the ball, trying new things and finding out now what they can go with in camp and see if it's valuable for the future, or just scrap it right now.

That's all based on what they're seeing out there now, so they're not just running around in shorts trying to get in shape. This is all real football stuff and both of those areas are going to determine how quickly we're going to come out of the chute and what kind of season we're going to have.

You can absolutely learn about these guys now. Even in the running game, we're talking about Julius (Jones) and T.J. (Duckett) ... the staff didn't know how their actual skills fit with what we're trying to do. What plays will they be able to do well with and what won't work? The coaches will be able to recognize that now by how quickly they've picked up what we've been teaching in camp and how they handle those plays coming off the snap. The quicker we figure that out, the less time we waste on stuff that doesn't work.

That way, we won't have learn as much about the players once we get to training camp at the end of next month. Once we hit training camp, everything goes very quickly and before we know it, we're playing games. There's really a lot more going on right now than what it appears.

It hurts not having Walter (Jones), Chris (Spencer) and Rob (Sims) on the offensive line just for the timing sake. Any time you tweak the offensive line like we have, it takes time for the transformation to take hold. It's not so much so much with Walter, but Chris and Rob are still relatively young players. But having said that, they're not missing anything with (line coach Mike) Solari. They're watching and listening to everything that's going on. They're going to all the meetings and studying the films with the others. Sims, to his benefit, got the first camp in before he had his (knee) scope, so that helps with him moving from the left side to the right.

Honestly, you don't like any player missing any time, especially on that side of the ball because they throw so much at them. They'll all be healthy and ready to go by training camp (end of July), so we're confident they'll catch up quickly.

This has been great for the young receivers. They have all improved a lot from last year and it's going to be really interesting in camp because there will be great competition at that position. That's what you want at every position and that's what helps a team get better every year.

Minicamps set the tone for all of that, establishing competition while learning. That's why I say every time they set foot on the field all year long, it's critical to the success of the Seahawks.

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