Winslow adds to Seahawks' weaponry
ERIC D. WILLIAMS
RENTON – Looking for some instant offense in the passing game, the Seattle Seahawks hope they found it with the addition of tight end Kellen Winslow.
“He’s a wide receiver in a tight end’s body,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s got all of that ability and route-running like I mentioned, but more than that, he makes plays. As well as – the thing that I love about the guy the most – is that he’s a great competitor. He just loves to play the game, and we can’t have enough of that around here.”
Winslow talked to reporters Thursday for the first time since Seattle traded a conditional seventh-round draft choice to Tampa Bay for the former University of Miami standout.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound athlete looked smooth running routes and catching the ball during practice.
The Seahawks plan to pair Winslow with tight end Zach Miller, using them both in two-tight-end situations to force defenses to choose between running more heavy fronts to stop bruising running back Marshawn Lynch,or use more defensive backs to deal with Winslow and Miller in the passing game.
Seattle used two-tight-end formations nearly 40 percent of the time last season.
Winslow averaged 73 receptions and 792 yards his last three seasons in Tampa Bay. Miller finished with a career-low 25 catches last season, but Winslow believes the two tight ends can create a dynamic similar to New England’s two-tight-end sets.
The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski finished with 90 receptions for a tight-end record 1,327 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011, while teammate tight end Aaron Hernandez totaled 79 receptions for 910 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Zach Miller is a proven veteran here,” Winslow said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do something like the Patriots are doing, with Gronkowski and Hernandez. We kind of fit that mold, so I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
However, Winslow, who turns 29 on July 21, could be losing a step. He has had six knee surgeries since he’s been in the league, including reconstructive knee surgery after he tore his ACL in the motorcycle crash in 2005 while with Cleveland and microfracture knee surgery in 2007.
He also finished in the top 25 in the league in drops with five.
Carroll said the team is aware of Winslow’s knee issues and will manage the situation.
“He’s got some health issues that we’re going to deal with, make sure we monitor them really well, so he can play his best,” Carroll said. “We’re absolutely tuned into it, and we know a lot about the history. We’ll learn a lot more.”
Winslow said he has developed an understanding of how to take care of his injury situation.
“I will have to manage my practice time, but ever since the accident, I do have to live with what I have,” said Winslow, adding that he has played in all 16 games in five of his past six seasons.
“So I’ll be OK. Just be smart with it, and I’ll be there on Sunday.”
Carroll said the quarterbacks in his three-way competition for the starting job split reps evenly this week, with Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson each taking about a one-third of the reps with the first unit and Josh Portis mostly watching from the sideline.
“The first day was T-Jack’s day,” Carroll said. “The second day was Matt’s day. And Russell got more shots with them today. And we’ll continue to just rotate it like that.
“Again, it’s to present the competition as balanced as we can. And we need to see them with all the guys.”
Carroll would not put a time table on when he will make a decision on his starting quarterback, but he did say it will likely take exhibition games to make a final determination.
“I know we’re going to need the games to see stuff,” Carroll said. “These guys are going to do really well. They’re not making a lot of mistakes. They’re not way off base on any of the things that they’re doing. Everybody is making good, solid progress, and I think it’s going to continue to look like that. So it’s likely going to go to games.”
Seattle made room for Winslow on the 90-man roster by releasing tight end Cooper Helfet. The Seahawks also released offensive tackle Andrew Mitchell and replaced him on the roster with Central Washington University receiver Justin Helwege. An Eastlake High of Sammamish graduate, the 6-6 Helwege was invited as a tryout player to the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp two weeks ago. Helwege led the Wildcats with 51 receptions for 717 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
Carroll said offensive tackle James Carpenter ran for the first time Thursday and continues to show progress while rehabbing from ACL knee surgery.
Offensive guard John Moffitt (knee) is full go and working at right guard with the first unit. Russell Okung is close to being cleared, but Frank Omiyale worked at left tackle with the first unit Thursday.
Carroll said he is hopeful receiver Kris Durham (shoulder) is ready to go full speed next week, as well as rookie safety Winston Guy (shoulder).
Receiver Golden Tate did not practice because he fell and injured his hand Wednesday, and the hand is in a cast. Carroll said he did not know how long Tate will be out.
Rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin missed practice to attend the funeral of former West Virginia coach Bill Stewart.
Defensive end Chris Clemons also missed the voluntary workout, but Carroll did not give a reason.
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