Seahawks Radio Network executive producer Matt "Stretch" Johnson now has his own presence on Seahawks.com.
Johnson, who enters his 11th season with the team after spending nine years at Sports Radio 950 KJR AM, launched his 'Stretch The Field' podcast on Monday.
In the inaugural episode, Johnson was joined by Seahawks.com digital media reporter John Boyle. The pair offered an inside look at the Seahawks 2015 training camp, which opens Friday, July 31 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
The full audio file is embedded for you above and a few of the show's discussion highlights are laid out for you below, with an additional take from my end included after 'Stretch' and Boyle's takes.
Which Seahawks Player Is Set Up For A Huge Season?
Boyle: "If he can stay healthy, a great one would be Jordan Hill because this is a guy who looked like he was doing it. He was a guy that toward the end of last season comes on strong, he had 5.5 sacks, and then he gets hurt. We didn't quite get to see him all the way up to it. There's the obvious guys on offense. I think a lot of the receivers could make a big leap without the numbers necessarily reflecting it just because of this offense, you talk about it's not a volume passing game. So maybe Chris Matthews is a guy that takes a big leap, builds off that Super Bowl success. It may not translate to huge numbers, but I think that's a guy you could see improve quite a bit."
Stretch: "I had Bruce Irvin and J.R. Sweezy. Bruce Irvin to me, I just saw him again last week, he is in fantastic shape. I think he is just ready to really have a massive breakout. [Former Seahawks linebackers coach] Ken Norton [Jr.] said last year if he was playing any game at any time and it's second-captain, first-choose, you pick him for anything. It didn't matter if it was rugby, badminton, softball. He's that athletic. And then J.R. Sweezy, I think he's underrated as a guard. He's not talked about. He's been in here early. He's had an unbelievable offseason. He's in great shape and Tom Cable loves him. I don't know if the line is that much of a question mark when you have stalwarts like this."
I'll Add: Kam Chancellor. It's hard to imagine the Seahawks strong safety getting much better than he already is, but the team's defensive captain has said this is the best he's felt during any offseason of his career. That statement might seem off-base when remembering Chancellor played through Super Bowl XLIX with a torn MCL this past February, but the injury didn't require surgery and Chancellor said he was feeling "back to normal" two weeks later as he began his offseason training program. Two years ago, Chancellor had ankle surgery in the offseason and he had his hip repaired last year. An offseason without surgical procedures could mean the Seahawks will have an even faster, stronger, and more physical presence lurking in their defensive backfield.
Which Newcomer Are You Looking Forward To Seeing?
Boyle: "I'm going to skip Jimmy Graham because we've covered him and again that's so obvious that he's the guy. But to me, probably Cary Williams. You lose your starting cornerback in Byron Maxwell, a great player and they wanted him but you can't just afford to keep everybody. Cary Williams is a guy who's had a pretty good career. He's been a starter a lot of places. But he came here with a good attitude about it. He knows there's things even as a veteran that he can get better at. And when you look at the way they've developed cornerbacks here, they're not bringing in household names, first-round picks and just making them good right away. You look at Richard Sherman, they brought him along kind of slowly, developed him. Maxwell the same thing. Cary Williams, if he's willing to learn - he sounds like he is - is a guy that could get significantly better."
Stretch: "That just screams at Kris Richard, the new defensive coordinator, who has had a hand in developing all these guys. Cary Williams is exactly who I wrote down and to me it's a guy that didn't have an unpleasant situation in Philly, but he's glad to be here. You get a bunch of guys that are glad to be here - Jimmy Graham is glad to be here, he wants to win, he said about a month ago he wants to do anything it takes to win. Cary Williams, he can slide right in there. Obviously Byron Maxwell is a big loss, but you also have Will Blackmon, we'll see about Jeremy Lane's status later in the year - still getting over the arm and the ACL. But Cary Williams looks like he fits the mold. He looks like he likes to press. He's a big, tall, strong cornerback that goes right in with this system."
I'll Add: Jimmy Graham and Cary Williams are the offseason additions who hold some of the highest expectations, but looking for a more under-the-radar acquisition I'll go with defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, who was signed in free agency after seven solid years with the Cleveland Browns. Rubin, who stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 325 pounds, projects to be a contributor in the team's defensive line rotation, a unit that saw veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams sign with the New Orleans Saints this offseason.
Of The Players Who Finished 2014 On Injured Reserve, Who Are You Looking Forward To Seeing Come Back & Make A Difference?
Boyle: "To me it's got to be Brandon Mebane. This is a guy that has quietly had a great career here. Last year it really seemed like he was taking his game to another level. All his teammates were just raving about him. You had Richard Sherman campaigning for him to be a Pro Bowler, all this stuff. In the midst of probably the best season of his career he tears his hamstring and he's out for the year. We could just do this whole topic on linemen alone. A guy like Jordan Hill coming back, Cassius Marsh. There's all these guys they lost, but Mebane to me is really the one I'm curious to see."
Stretch: "My number one was Kevin Pierre-Louis. You talk about potential, but watching him out here in the OTAs this year, his sideline-to-sideline speed was amazing. It just seems like he kind of really fits the big jump - the rookie to the [second] year is a huge jump for a guy mentally. I thought he was outstanding this spring."
I'll Add: Paul Richardson. He suffered an ACL injury in the divisional-round of the playoffs last year, so we'll have to wait and see whether or not he'll be ready by the time the regular season rolls around, but given the way Richardson finished 2014 (15 of his 29 catches, 169 of his 271 receiving yards, and his first career touchdown came in the final four games) he should be viewed as a difference-maker when he returns, even given the wide receiver position's depth heading into camp. A more definitive word on Richardson's 2015 status should come once coach Pete Carroll begins to meet with the media as training camp gets underway.
Here's a little bonus for those of you who read (or scrolled) to the bottom of the page. As you might've heard in the podcast embedded at the top, Matt 'Stretch' Johnson isn't all that excited about the 'Stretch The Field' name for his podcast. So, he'd like to enlist your help.
'Stretch' is offering up a pair of tickets to the Seahawks' 2015 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders to a fan that helps him name his new show on Seahawks.com. You can let 'Stretch' know what you think, and offer any suggestions, by sending him a message on Twitter @MattJStretch.