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Seahawks Blog

Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.
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June 19, 2007

Time for another break

Posted by Bob Payne at 10:19 AM

This blog is on hiatus as the team is on vacation until training camp begins in late July. Please check back with us then.

June 12, 2007

Hunter hurt

Posted by Jose Romero at 10:51 AM

You might remember Pete Hunter, the loan officer-turned-Seahawks playoff hero from late last season. He was re-signed by the team and took part in the May minicamp, and has been practicing this month, too.

Hunter suffered some bad luck today, though. The cornerback was running downfield trying to cover WR Deion Branch in a one-on-one drill when he pulled up with a hamstring injury, and was lost for the rest of practice.

Trainers immediately rushed out to attend to Hunter, who walked back to the sideline on his own but with a limp.

More Seahawks were missing today then in previous days, taking time off with excused absences though the camp is voluntary. Most notable among the absentees was RB Shaun Alexander, who isn't expected back for the remaining two days of practices.

MLB Lofa Tatupu attended practice but did not participate. He is not believed to be injured.

Two of the top offensive linemen, Walter Jones and Sean Locklear, were also not present. So the team plugged a rookie, undrafted free agent Kyle Williams from USC, into the right tackle spot with the first-team offense.

Lastly, WR D.J. Hackett had a fantastic practice. He caught everything thrown his way, over the middle, in double coverage, etc.

This will be my final blog entry for some time, as I will miss the last two days of camp while out of town. Thanks everyone for checking in, much appreciated.

June 11, 2007

Big day in Kirkland

Posted by Jose Romero at 2:42 PM

The news of the day includes the return of WR Deion Branch, RG Chris Gray and DE Darryl Tapp, all who made their minicamp practice debuts.

Branch was on his honeymoon and was delayed in getting back from St. Lucia in the Caribbean because of hurricane-like weather. Gray was moving his family to Kirkland from Alabama. Tapp was attending to a personal matter.

The Jones Soda partnership was officially announced with some pomp and circumstance. I tried the Berry Lemonade flavor and I have to say it was pretty tasty. The stuff is loaded with cane sugar but that flavor, anyway, is worth the indulgence.

With the excused absence of Walter Jones, Ray Willis moved to left tackle with the No. 1 offense and Gray re-assumed his right guard spot, where Willis had been playing.

Tapp got some good pressure on the quarterbacks in team drills, and rookie Josh Wilson dropped a sure interception at the goal line.

"You could go 101 [yards] with that!" assistant head coach Jim Mora shouted at Wilson.

Coach Mike Holmgren said OL Floyd Womack, who had athroscopic surgery last week on both knees, might not be back until perhaps a week into training camp. But Holmgren still wants Womack to be part of the competition for a starting job on the right side of the line.

Holmgren would also like to see Willis be a "swing guy," or someone who can play multiple positions. And the coach likes what he has seen so far from rookie WRs Jordan Kent, Joe Fernandez and Logan Payne, the latter two being undrafted free agents.

Keeping up with the Jones

Posted by Jose Romero at 10:40 AM

Soda, that is, and the company is the one keeping up after it beat out Coca-Cola for the exclusive soft drink rights to Qwest Field over the next five years.

Representatives from the Seattle company are at team headquarters today to officially announce the partnership. Talk about presence ... there's a giant inflatable green apple bottle outside the door to headquarters. An RV emblazoned with the company logo was blocking traffic on the road leading up to the facility. And there are bottles of the drink all over the place in too many flavors to mention.

There's a 1:30 p.m. news conference today featuring Jones CEO Peter van Stolk and and Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke.

That's after practice, which is now under way. Anyone ever try this Jones stuff? I'll probably take a bottle just to see what it's like. Any recommendations for what flavor?

To answer a reader's question about Kelly Herndon, who has agreed to terms with the Tennessee Titans, I don't feel the Hawks were premature in cutting Herndon. The guy gave all he had when he was here, and he played hurt quite a bit. He also got burned just as often as any other Seattle defensive back. So it's a good time to go a little younger with speedy Josh Wilson, who looks like he belongs in the NFL, from what I've seen in practice so far. Wilson has good instincts and is also a high-effort guy.

The Seahawks had to release Herndon by June 1 so they could take less of a salary-cap hit then they would have had they cut him in training camp.

June 8, 2007

The Kelly Herndon sweepstakes

Posted by Jose Romero at 2:03 PM

Looks like the former Seahawks cornerback is going somewhere, and soon.

Here's the latest from the Detroit Free Press.

I'll use this space to answer a couple of questions: First, training camp starts July 27 or 28, I believe, and will be in Kirkland and not Cheney this year as the team prepares to transition into the new Virginia Mason Athletic Center next year.

Second, Nate Burleson is at this point the No. 1 punt return guy. And rookie Josh Wilson will get his chance to be the kickoff returner in training camp.

The June passing camp resumes Monday through Thursday of next week. I'll check in then.

June 7, 2007

Surgery for Womack

Posted by Jose Romero at 12:38 PM

Talk about injury prone, Pork Chop is hurt again.

The Seahawks confirmed that offensive lineman Floyd Womack had a pair of arthroscopic knee surgeries this morning at the Seattle Surgery Center. Womack left practice before it started on Wednesday with an unspecified knee surgery and was at today's practice.

Womack will be out of action until training camp next month.

Womack was set to compete for a spot at either right guard or right tackle, along with Ray Willis, Chris Gray and Sean Locklear, but now he will have to wait to resume playing.

Willis has a broken left hand he suffered this week, and is practicing with a club-like cast over the hand.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Matt Hasselbeck threw the ball well at practice today, Nate Burleson ran some good routes and LB Lance Laury intercepted a Seneca Wallace pass to end practice.

Womack, a seventh-year veteran, has had hand, ankle, toe, elbow, triceps, knee and groin injuries over the past four years. The only season in which he played in every game is 2004, when he started eight regular-season games and the one playoff game.

Access, and some Shaun

Posted by Jose Romero at 9:19 AM

At the suggestion of a co-worker, I will try my best in this space to explain the level of access I get at this minicamp.

Let's just say it's pretty good. The writers got a few moments with coach Mike Holmgren on Monday, the first day of camp, and after watching two hours of practice the past three days, we need only ask for the player(s) we want to talk to and we can interview them.

Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander spoke to a mass gathering. I talked to Nate Burleson, Rob Sims and Walter Jones on my own.

Basically, the guys practice, I and others watch, they finish, I ask for the players I want to talk to, I talk to them and then it's time to write. It's a nice little setup. And the way I understand it, the Seahawks media gets better access than allowed reporters for other teams.

On the field, the players do mostly individual drills. Team stuff happens toward the end and is really the most important part of the session. But it's fun to watch one-on-one pass coverage, when you get to see who gets the best of his opponent when the ball is in the air.

Today is the last day of practice for the week, then the Seahawks get a three-day weekend and return next Monday through Thursday for more practice.

Now, a little bonus Shaun Alexander from yesterday after practice:

On how camp has gone so far: "Camp is going really good. It's business as usual. We have a lot of talent and good coaching. The next thing is to get this chemistry thing together and see where we go."

On the changes on defense: "I'm excited. I think our defense is good. I think chemistry is such a big thing for a football team. I think if they hit this thing correctly we could be one of those great defenses again that we had a couple years ago. If they get us the ball enough times I'm sure we will make some good things happen. I am really excited about how all the new guys on defense have been coming together."

On if he has lost weight this season: "No, I weigh 225. I was thinking that maybe I was just running so slow last year, I don't know what it was. I thought, 'Did the foot break make you look that bad?' I am the same weight. I'm a lot stronger right now. I feel stronger, but the weight is exactly the same."

June 6, 2007

Two-minute drill

Posted by Jose Romero at 1:56 PM

It was No. 1 offense against No. 1 defense and No. 2 offense against No. 2 defense in the two-minute drill today at Seahawks minicamp, and the drill was the most entertaining of anything that happened all day.

Save for perhaps the offensive linemen's quick-hands drill, where they lift their arms and hands up and down while looking up from a high-crouch position against a teammate holding a blocking pad, in order to build hand speed and reaction time. The players end up looking like they are doing a merengue, which if you know your Latin dancing is a hip-swiveling movement that's almost like a fast aerobic walk.

But back to the two-minute drill. Matt Hasselbeck moved the offense inside the red zone, and if they were doing field goals, Josh Brown probably would have made it. But the object of this drill was touchdowns, and CB Marcus Trufant saved one by tipping away a pass intended for WR Nate Burleson in the end zone at the last moment on fourth down.

The No. 2s came on, and Seneca Wallace moved the offense down the field. The offense tried a draw play on fourth down that LB Kevin Bentley would have blown up for a minimal gain had tackling been allowed. And that was that.

In other happenings, OL Floyd Womack, who has battled injury after injury in his Seahawks career, left practice almost right after it started with an unspecified knee injury. OT Sean Locklear and FB Mack Strong returned after absences yesterday and the previous two days.

Missing some safeties

Posted by Jose Romero at 10:13 AM

No big cause for alarm at this point, but only four safeties practiced yesterday at minicamp. One of those is a longshot to make the team, Patrick Ghee, and the other, Mike Green, is only doing individual drills while he continues to recover from the nasty Lisfranc foot injury suffered in the exhibition season last year.

The other two participating are the pair of free agents the Seahawks picked up this offseason, Deon Grant and Brian Russell. They both have to be considered lead candidates to start, with Michaeal Boulware and Jordan Babineaux -- who is listed as a strong safety on the roster -- still unable to practice following offseason surgeries.

While that isn't good for depth, it's a plus of sorts for Grant and Russell, who get more time on the field to continue picking up the nuances of coordinator John Marshall's defense.

A few more odds and ends:

- Kelly Herndon, released by Seattle last week, might land in Tennessee.

-Tom Ashworth, to answer a question, has never been a Pro Bowler or All-Pro.

-Rookie Josh Wilson, the team's top draft pick this year (second round), made a nice play on the ball in practice yesterday, knocking down a Seneca Wallace pass.

June 5, 2007

Is this June or November?

Posted by Jose Romero at 1:01 PM

The rain was really coming down during practice today at Hawks minicamp, but practice still lasted a little more than two hours.

With all that new stuff being added into the playbooks, the coaches need that kind of time, I guess. Practices typically don't last longer than an hour and a half, minicamp or regular season.

Voluntary camp means some guys aren't going to show up for a practice or two for one reason or another. In addition to RG Chris Gray, WR Deion Branch, FB Mack Strong and DE Darryl Tapp, RT Sean Locklear was also missing today.

I had a nice talk with left guard Rob Sims, who is very enthusiastic about going into this season as a starter in just his second year. Sims said he thinks he was born to play left guard and that pulling -- when he flares out behind the tackle and blasts a linebacker or defensive back trying to break up a run to the outside -- is so much fun. One has to like that kind of spirit.

Play of the day: Lofa Tatupu picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass in 7-on-7 drills.

Addressing a couple of questions

Posted by Jose Romero at 10:24 AM

Chris had a question about players not showing up for voluntary camps. The team puts out the schedule ahead of time but because the camps are voluntary, some players try to find excuses not to attend. Weddings and family issues are solid reasons; nevertheless, Chris has a point that perhaps these things can be scheduled around camps. In the case of Gray, Holmgren said the longtime guard earned a day off on Monday so we will see if he's here today. In the case of Branch, maybe the wedding was planned as far back as last season when Branch got to Seattle. And I haven't heard about the other guys.

Merrill: Ashworth isn't looked at as a starter because he has been mostly ineffective in games. You might recall the first play he got in for in Detroit in the season opener last year, and the sack he allowed on that play. At this point he is a versatile backup who provides depth.

Changing subjects ...
Coach Mike Holmgren said Walter Jones, Rob Sims and Chris Spencer will be starters, but reiterated that the right side of the offensive line will be a competitive situation. It's Gray, Pork Chop Womack, Ray Willis and Sean Locklear battling for right guard and right tackle. Locklear and Gray were last year's starters.

DT Marcus Tubbs isn't practicing, but he has dropped his weight to 325 and said he feels good. He is coming back from knee surgery last year.

QB Matt Hasselbeck said Holmgren had a message for the team when he explained that the coaches would be implementing more plays and formations:
"I'm fine with mistakes but don't make the same mistake twice," the coach said.

June 4, 2007

Throwing the book at 'em

Posted by Jose Romero at 1:22 PM

That's what Mike Holmgren is doing with the Seahawks. In a matter of speaking.

Holmgren spoke after the Seahawks' first June mini-camp practice this morning and mentioned that he's increasing the mental workload.

"With our team, our base stuff, most of the guys know it in their sleep. We don't always execute it perfectly but they know it," he said. "Now I want to challenge them and get them thinking a little bit about some new stuff so when we get to training camp in July there is some retention there."

Hard to say right now what that "new stuff" is going to be. But this will be difficult on the rookies and new players in the system because, as QB Matt Hasselbeck said, they are expected to jump right in and learn on the fly because the coaching is geared toward the system that is already in place for the players who have been with the team.

Hasselbeck also said his surgically-repaired left shoulder is not bothering him at all though he has yet to be hit or tackled on it.

My thanks to a couple of readers who have already jumped on the blog -- I did fail to mention Jordan Babineaux in that mix at cornerback. But it's hard to say where he fits in. Perhaps nickel cornerback is his best spot and we all know he makes plays, but Babineaux is not even practicing right now while he rehabs from shoulder surgery.

You figure that Jennings and Marcus Trufant will start at cornerbacks with Babineaux and Wilson going after the nickel spot, unless one of those two is spectactular enough to upend the solid Jennings.

Right guard Chris Gray is moving his family to the area and missed practice. WR Deion Branch is on his honeymoon but should be back for Tuesday's practice. And FB Mack Strong and DE Darryl Tapp were not present today, though the camp is voluntary.

Holmgren for president?

Posted by Jose Romero at 10:05 AM

Happy Monday, and welcome to the second Seahawks' mini-camp of the offseason.

It kicks off today and runs through Thursday, resuming next Monday through Thursday. It should be interesting to see how second-year cornerback Kelly Jennings comes out for practice and if there is any pep in his step after the Seahawks released Kelly Herndon last week.

Jennings, Herndon and rookie Josh Wilson figured to compete for a starting job and the nickel cornerback spot. Now Jennings is expected to start at right cornerback, and Wilson inherits the other spot while he attempts to upend Jennings.

I'll also be keeping an eye on offensive lineman Ray Willis, who's going to see a lot of action as the coaches take a long look at him to see where he might fit on the right side of the offensive line.

And of course, Matt Hasselbeck figures to ramp up his participation in practice from the last mini-camp in May, as he has had more time to rehabilitate his surgically-repaired left shoulder.

As for the Holmgren thing, the Green Bay Press-Gazette had an interesting article that ran Sunday about the Packers' messy front office transition. The story said Holmgren, who is under contract with the Seahawks through the end of next season, would be considered a candidate to be Green Bay's chairman and CEO.

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