RENTON — The pace of practice has slowed, his cuts are more precise and the plays more ingrained in the overwhelmed brain of Seattle Seahawks running back Robert Turbin.
And that’s a good thing. The Seahawks may be counting on the rookie out of Utah State more than usual at the beginning of the season because of the uncertain status of the team’s best offensive player, Marshawn Lynch, who faces DUI charges in his hometown of Oakland.
So is Turbin feeling the heat?
“Nope,” Turbin said. “There’s no pressure. This is what I do. I’m a rookie, but I’m a professional football player right now, you know what I mean? So I’ve got to do my job. And my job is to right now back up Marshawn Lynch, or back up Leon (Washington). And so when my opportunity comes to get on the field, I have to just do my job and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Two days after getting knocked on his back by linebacker K.J. Wright during a running drill, Turbin heeded the second-year linebacker’s advice and got his pad level lower. The result at Thursday’s practice was a thundering collision where Turbin got the better of massive defensive end Red Bryant – although Turbin was the one looking around for his helmet afterward.
One thing that still remains noticeable are Turbin’s bulging biceps – he bench-pressed 225 pounds 28 times at the NFL scouting combine. But even at 5-foot-10 and 222 pounds, Turbin’s still light on his feet, as evidenced by his 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash.
Seattle running backs coach Sherman Smith said he has seen steady progress from Turbin since his first days of rookie minicamp during the offseason.
“Now that you can put the pads on, you can definitely see the offseason did him well,” Sherman said. “He’s a good player. He’s picking the stuff up. You can see the speed to the hole. You can see the power. You can see all of that stuff translated.
“There were some concerns we had coming out of college that he would just stutter in the hole a little bit, but he’s not doing that for us now, so he’s doing a real nice job.”
Turbin said that Lynch has been a good mentor for him during camp, providing a word or two of encouragement, but more important, leading by example by showing how the running plays should be executed.
“Marshawn’s whole thing is you have to show people who you are,” Turbin said. “And that’s kind of how he plays. He doesn’t like to talk. I don’t really like to talk much either. But he’s a guy that just likes to show who he is by how he plays. And he kind of just brings that to me. That’s the biggest advice he’s given to me so far.”
Along with Turbin, electric return man Leon Washington will be counted on to contribute more offensively with Justin Forsett signing with the Houston Texans in free agency. Washington has been working with the first unit on third-down situations and will be the team’s lightning to Turbin and Lynch’s thunder.
“We have so many guys that can do so many things well,” Washington said. “Bringing Turbo (Turbin) to the mix is going to help out a lot. My role this year is I’m going to get in where I fit in. And when I get the opportunity to carry the football, I’m going to do that.”
The Seahawks found out the hard way last season how the offense suffers without Lynch, when he was a late-minute scratch because of back spasms at Cleveland. Seattle lost to the Browns, 6-3, and rushed for only 68 yards.
Faced with the possibility of not having Lynch on the field to begin the season this year, Smith says his unit should be better prepared.
“Yes, because we have to be,” Smith said. “Those are the guys that we have, so we’re just going to count on them to do what they have to do. I think Robert can do it, and we have Leon that will be there to help him out.”
OFFENSE STRUGGLES TO SCORE TDS IN RED ZONE
Quarterback Matt Flynn got his second chance to play with the starters in Day 5 of training camp. And Seattle’s offense struggled to score touchdowns against the starting defense as the team worked on red zone situations.
That’s not a surprise when you consider the type of length Seattle’s defense can put on the field, with 6-4 Brandon Browner and 6-3 Richard Sherman on the corners, 6-3 Kam Chancellor at safety, 6-4 Wright at linebacker, and 6-5 defensive lineman J.J. Jones and 6-6 defensive tackle Alan Branch collapsing the pocket.
Flynn, Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson had to throw into some tight windows in a compacted amount of space, so there were a lot of deflections and tipped balls, a couple interceptions, a few drops and a lot of balls being thrown away.
“It’s not easy for them at all,” Carroll said. “We’re not making it easy on the quarterbacks – we’re making it as hard as we can for them. And so I think if they can move the ball on us and make plays on us, that’s a good sign.
“I talked to the defense today, and told them to dial it up and make it as hard as we can make it on those guys for just those very reasons – for comparisons and getting some good information. So we’re going to continue to do that, and continue to make it hard. … We’re going to stress them as much as possible.”
Carroll said he plans to keep rotating all three quarterbacks with the first unit for the foreseeable future.
“We’re still on it,” Carroll said. “This is the fifth day of practice. There’s not much reason to alter anything we’re doing right now. We’re just going to keep getting reps and gathering information.”
University of Washington product WR Jermaine Kearse (foot) came off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and practiced for the first time during training camp. Tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Barrett Ruud returned to practice after resting balky knees on Tuesday. Defensive end Jason Jones returned to practice after sitting out two days with a knee issue. LB Matt McCoy (knee), LB Jameson Konz (shoulder), CB Walter Thurmond (leg), OL James Carpenter (knee), TE Anthony McCoy (hamstring) and CB Ron Parker did not practice. Carpenter and Thurmond remain on the PUP list.