RENTON — It’s not as if Doug Baldwin, as a restricted free agent, needs to prove to the Seattle Seahawks’ staff and management what he can do.
But the receiver who was second on the team in catches last season and is reported to be in talks for a new contract, was the star of Tuesday’s first Organized Team Activity (OTA) at the team’s headquarters.
Baldwin caught three long passes during team sessions, including a one-handed scoring grab in a tight window between Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas — a pair of All-Pros.
“He continues to always be at the front in making things happen, and he did it again today,” coach Pete Carroll said of Baldwin after practice. “He had a great day today. He’s just such a great worker and such a disciplined competitor that he brings it every chance he gets, and it shows.”
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The defending Super Bowl champions had several spirited
team sessions during the workout, with the defense coming up with two big plays — interceptions by linebacker Bobby Wagner and lineman Greg Scruggs, off a tipped ball.
“It was just fun to see us getting takeaways like we never lost anything (after) the Super Bowl,” Thomas said. “We were just playing fast.”
The topic of Thomas playing fast was raised in a new context when Carroll said he’s the leading candidate right now to take over the punt-returning role after the departure of Golden Tate.
“I’ve been waiting on this opportunity,” Thomas said. “This is what I do — I’m an athlete. I’ve been trying to tell Coach Carroll to put me back there for the longest (time) ... I want to score a touchdown.”
His biggest competition in that regard, though, could come from another valuable commodity — receiver Percy Harvin, who appears to have returned to full speed after missing most of last season following hip surgery.
“It’s a true blessing,” Harvin said about his return to health, saying he was “unsettled” even after the Super Bowl win. “I felt bad that I didn’t make my mark on the season like I wanted to. I’m happy to be back out here and get a full off-season to get going.”
Carroll said Harvin’s return has been smooth. “He’s fitting in and he understands the chemistry and communication,” Carroll said. “He looks fantastic.”
As was expected, running back Marshawn Lynch was not on hand, and Carroll joked when asked about him. “I saw him on ESPN today, he looked pretty good,” Carroll said.
Open to the media, the workout was a chance to see those players who were back to health and those that were still fighting injuries, or were absent from the voluntary workouts for other reasons.
Linebacker Malcolm Smith, the Super Bowl MVP, recently had “a couple little things” removed from his ankle, and he should be ready for training camp at the end of July, Carroll said.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor (hip), offensive tackle Russell Okung (foot) and receiver Sidney Rice (knee) also are expected to be back for camp after recovering from surgeries, Carroll said.
Guard James Carpenter lost 15 pounds in the off-season. Not coincidentally, the team did not pick up the option for the fifth season on his rookie contract this off-season, meaning Carpenter has much to prove.
“He doesn’t look like the same guy, physically,” Carroll said. “He looked the best he’s ever looked, by far, right now.”
Rookies Cassius Marsh and Andru Pulu missed because their schools operate on a later schedule and they haven’t yet graduated. Defensive tackle Jesse Williams suffered a laceration after a fall and is close to being healed. Defensive back Tharold Simon (foot) is cleared to run within the next week.
Carroll said that backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was absent because of a family situation, and rookie quarterback Keith Price was dealing with a groin injury. Receiver Chris Matthews (hamstring) did not participate. Rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson worked in individual drills but not team sessions after bruising a shoulder during rookie minicamp. Linebacker Heath Farwell was kept out and defensive end Cliff Avril was absent.
“It was just a blast to be out on the practice field today. We had a great time,” Carroll said. “The guys practiced like crazy. They worked really hard to be in good shape so that they could practice at that kind of tempo, and the coaches did a really nice job of getting them ready for getting the OTAs started. We didn’t go very long today, but we were real sharp. It was just fun to see the guys out there playing football again. We’re off to a good start.”
THREE ROOKIES SIGN
The Seahawks signed fourth-round linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis out of Boston College and wide receiver Kevin Norwood out of Alabama. That means all nine of the Seahawks’ 2014 draft picks have signed.
Seattle also signed former UTEP linebacker Horace Miller on Tuesday. The Seahawks invited Miller to their rookie minicamp May 16-18. The 6-foot, 237-pounder ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day.
Staff writer Todd Dybas contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org/seahawks