With a five-week break between the last minicamp and the start of training camp, it might seem like a good time to offer judgments on the status of the Seattle Seahawks’ reconstruction project.
Better? Worse? Hey, I’m not laying down any chips while the dealer is still shuffling the deck.
When the PR staff put together a fresh roster before Wednesday’s minicamp practice, 42 of the 85 guys listed were new to the team. But by the time the list reached our hands, a couple more transactions had been made.
When he got into town last winter, coach Pete Carroll predicted as much. And because the team he was taking over had been 5-11, who would object to his eager rearranging of the furniture?
“We just want to get a new look and build off the strengths of what we have, and let’s see if we can keep pushing it,” Carroll said at the minicamp.
And the Seahawks are not done pushing; Carroll said he easily could imagine another half-dozen moves before the start of the season.
How has all this positioned the team for training camp that starts at the end of July? And where are the areas where the most ground needs to be gained?
The first big move Carroll and general manager John Schneider made was trading for San Diego’s third-string quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst. At that point, the team had so many holes to fill, we fairly asked: Was this the place to start?
Starter Matt Hasselbeck responded exactly as any new staff could wish, by solidifying his position and status as starter and team leader. By later adding former first-round pick J.P. Losman, the Hawks seem well-insured if Hasselbeck suffers further health issues.
Who’s No. 2, Whitehurst or Losman? If nothing else, the issue could enliven the exhibition-season schedule.
Who does Hasselbeck pass to? T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch missed much of the offseason and minicamps getting over surgeries, which leaves question marks. But Mike Williams’ career rehab seems to be progressing, and at 6-foot-5, he seems to be a great red zone target at the very least.
The wild card will be the progress of rookie Golden Tate, who may be raw in some respects, but has just kept proving himself as a guy who can make big plays, a quality all-too rare the past couple seasons.
The one man who has the most ground to cover before games get serious in September is rookie first-round pick Russell Okung, who has to take over for presumptive Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones.
The sixth player taken in the draft, Okung is being tossed into the deep end, and his advancement will be critical to whether the Seahawks can score more than their anemic 2009 average of 17.5 points a game.
Carroll has been non-committal on the running back issue, too, as the injury rehab of Leon Washington through camp will affect the Julius Jones/Justin Forsett balance of carries. Maybe this turns into a committee effort.
Who, if anybody, will generate a pass rush? To be determined in August.
At linebacker, will Leroy Hill get out of the doghouse for his off-field behavior? … Will Lofa Tatupu return to full health? … Will Aaron Curry approach his potential? If nothing else, voluble linebacker coach Ken Norton Jr. will be all over anybody not putting out enough effort at that position.
And will the Seahawks actually enter the season with the curious pairing of rookie Earl Thomas and 15-year-veteran Lawyer Milloy as starting safeties?
As Carroll warned at the end of minicamp: “We have a long way to go” before having to make the final cuts to 53.
He has a phrase he likes to use whenever the question of competition for a position is raised: “Let the games begin.”
Clearly, there will be plenty of the little games before the real and important ones begin in September.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com