Renton – Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell said in a conversation with reporters on Thursday that he was hopeful the team’s first-round draft pick, linebacker Aaron Curry, will be signed and ready to go by the time training camp opens this afternoon.
NFL rookies were scheduled to report on Thursday. However, Curry was one of 20 or more first-round picks yet to sign. It remains a possibility that Curry might miss a day or two of camp.
“We’ve been nonstop talking to those guys for the last few days,” said Ruskell, who confirmed that the team had come to terms with second-round pick Max Unger late Wednesday. “We’re optimistic. We’ve worked with Mike Sullivan (Curry’s agent) many times, on many deals.
“I go back to Trent’s (Dilfer) original deal in Tampa, and Mike was his associate. So we know Mike well. We know how he operates. We think it’s not going to be how much the structure is and the other little things you put into a contract. It’s going to come down to the main core of the deal, and there aren’t a lot of precedents to go by right now.”
The St. Louis Rams’ signing offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick in this year’s draft, may help speed up negotiations between the Seahawks and Curry.
Smith reportedly signed a five-year contract that maxes out at just under $62 million if certain incentives are reached, according to league sources. The deal includes $33 million guaranteed.
Before the Smith signing, only quarterbacks Matthew Stafford of Detroit and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets had signed deals among the top five players drafted, making it hard to find comparable contracts for nonquarterbacks. Ruskell also said uncertainty over the league’s labor peace beyond 2010 has slowed talks.
“We’ll discount the quarterback deals,” Ruskell said. “They’ll say, ‘Nope, there it is.’ And so therein lies the rub of where the deal will get done. But we’re optimistic. It’s been good talks so far. We absolutely want him in by tomorrow. We don’t want him to miss a day. Here’s a guy we’re projecting to start, and that would hurt him.”
The Seahawks have some questions about offensive lineman Mike Wahle’s health, and if he doesn’t pass his physical when veterans report today, Ruskell said the team will reassess how it will move forward. If Wahle, who is returning from surgery on his right shoulder, can’t go, the plan is to use Unger. However, Ruskell said the team would consider flopping right guard Rob Sims to the left side. The Seahawks worked Unger at left guard during offseason workouts. … In a move to add depth, the Seahawks will sign offensive lineman Cory Withrow, according to agent David Canter. Grey Ruegamer and Withrow reportedly worked out for the team this week. … Walter Jones and Patrick Kerney, both returning from season-ending injuries, are expected to practice in a limited capacity today. … Ruskell said the team will not keep two kickers this season, and will chose between veteran Olindo Mare and second-year player Brandon Coutu.
SEAHAWKS TRAINING CAMP
The Seattle Seahawks begin their 2009 campaign with one practice this afternoon at the team’s practice facility in Renton. Here’s some pertinent information to help you in following the team:
Are practices open? Yes, but all the spots have been gobbled up to watch practice at the team’s Renton facility, the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. However, the Seahawks will have two, open practices that are free to the public at the University of Washington on Friday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 18. Both practices begin at 6:45 p.m.
Any regular season tickets left? Season ticket packages are sold out. But single-game tickets will go on sale beginning on Monday. Tickets will only be available at www.seahawks.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets will not be available at the Qwest Field Box Office or Ticketmaster outlets. Ticket availability is limited and tickets are expected to sell out within minutes. Fans will be able to purchase a maximum six tickets per game.
Some story lines to follow
Injuries: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, offensive linemen Walter Jones and Mike Wahle, and defensive end Patrick Kerney are all returning from season-ending injuries. Seattle also needs wide receivers Deion Branch and Nate Burleson to stay healthy.
Position battles: There should be heated competition on the defensive line to see who emerges as the starting front four. Ken Lucas and Josh Wilson are locked in a fight for the starting cornerback spot opposite Tacoma native Marcus Trufant. And veteran Jordan Babineaux, normally used in obvious passing situations, will get a chance to compete for the starting free safety job against incumbent Brian Russell.
Rookie watch: First round draft choice Aaron Curry has yet to sign with the team, but Hawks GM Tim Ruskell is hopeful he’ll be available for the first day of the camp. Curry is an important piece to Seattle’s improvement defensively.
Aug. 7: Practice open to public at Husky Stadium, 6:45 p.m.
Aug. 15: Preseason opener at San Diego, 7 p.m.
Aug. 18: Practice open to public at Husky Stadium, 6:45 p.m.
Aug. 22: Preseason game vs. Denver, Qwest Field, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 29: Preseason game at Kansas City, 5 p.m.
Sept. 1: Roster cut to 75 players.
Sept. 3: Preseason game vs. Oakland, Qwest Field, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5: Roster cut to 53 players.
Sept. 13: Regular-season opener vs. St. Louis, Qwest Field, 1:15 p.m.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437