The Seahawks love to find players who have a quality they call “grit.”
Sometimes it’s a personal history of overcoming obstacles, or the unwillingness to be dissuaded from following their dreams.
Exhibit A: Brandon Williams.
The tight end had football taken from him before his senior season at Oregon (2011), the diagnosis of spinal stenosis making the game too dangerous for his long-term well-being.
The son of a Chicago cop, who grew up on the south side, was just not going to go away that easily.
Five years later, he’s making a big impression in the Seahawks training camp, and easily could land on the 53-man roster at the start of the season.
When Chip Kelly, the Ducks coach at the time, and doctors gave Williams the bad news, he responded with tears and profound disappointment, and then he finished up his degree work (sociology) at UO and played a season of basketball at Portland Bible College.
Hoping to follow his father into law enforcement, he found employment with a Portland security firm for $11 an hour.
And then he heard about the regional scouting combine at the Seahawks headquarters in Renton, and he decided to give football a final chance in March 2013.
“I wasn’t really thinking about playing football, seriously,” Williams said Friday. “I was just went to the regional combine for closure, to tell myself that I did everything I could and if it didn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be. I was really more focused on being a police officer or trying to play basketball overseas.”
He came away thinking he’d done pretty well. Turns out, scouts from Carolina, New England and the New York Giants agreed. Carolina brought him in for a workout, and when he was sent through the medical exams, he got clearance to get back in the game.
In three seasons with Carolina and Miami, Williams has a total of four NFL catches.
But the Seahawks liked what they saw of him on film, and coach Pete Carroll has singled him out several times as a player drawing positive attention at this summer’s camp.
“I’m grateful to be out here every day,” the 28-year-old Williams said, noting the irony that he would was standing at the VMAC headquarters, the same place he took his final shot at making the NFL.
“I told myself I never wanted to be the guy who said, ‘I wish I did this or that,’ ” Williams said. “That’s how I live my life.”
Yes, with determination and grit.
Since Carroll was unavailable, no official word was given on the dozen Seahawks who were missing camp on Friday because of injury. The two most serious injuries from Thursday were tight ends Brandon Cottom and Ronnie Shields, both with Achilles problems. Kam Chancellor (groin) and Doug Baldwin (calf) were on hand, but not participating in the practice. ... No word was available on the outcome of the reported visit of All-Pro guard Jahri Evans, a free agent who was cut by the Saints.
SEAHAWKS CAMP AT A GLANCE
WHAT IT WAS: The sixth practice of training camp was less eventful from the standpoint of player squabbles. It appears that head coach Pete Carroll has gotten a message across that extracurricular activities might need to be curtailed. Friday’s session ended on a strange note, when a fan crawled over the fence and headed out onto the field. Renton’s finest detained him, and took him down when he tried to break free.
WHO SHINED: Just about anybody with a jersey in the 70s got a chance to go with the first offensive unit at tackle. Friday’s team session opened with rookies Rees Odhiambo at right tackle and George Fant at left tackle. Later, left tackle Garry Gilliam moved over to the right side, and Terry Poole went with the No. 1 offense for a while. Assistant coach Tom Cable often rotates players to help assess their versatility, something that he sees as important on a unit that often has only seven players active on game day. DeShawn Shead worked with the first group at right cornerback, while Eric Pinkins got his shot with the first defense at the SAM linebacker spot. Kelcie McCray started at strong safety as Kam Chancellor sat out (groin). Receiver Paul Richardson continued his good camp, shaking free in an open space to take in a big gainer from quarterback Russell Wilson against the No. 1 defense. SAM linebacker Cassius Marsh continued his knack for making big plays, often closing with great speed on pursuit from the back side on running plays. Rookie cornerback Trevone Boykin shows daily improvement, and on Friday demonstrated nice velocity and accuracy on a pass while on a sprint-out to his right. Rookie tight end Nick Vannett again had some mixed results, dropping a ball in light traffic. Receiver Jermaine Kearse, who has been having a quiet camp, had a nice touchdown reception from Wilson during a Red Zone session.
WHO SAT: More than a dozen Seahawks were either out or limited Friday. Defensive lineman Frank Clark (calf) was one who has been out but returned. The two whose injuries on Thursday looked most serious, Brandon Cottom and Ronnie Shields (both with Achilles problems), were absent. Without any word from the coaches, no updates were given on injuries. For the key players who were missing — Doug Baldwin (calf), Chancellor (groin) and Jordan Hill (unspecified) — the injuries did not seem serious.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s a very competitive game, playing in the trenches … you’ve got to be physical, you’ve got to be tough. The game is played in the trenches and won in the trenches if you ask me.” Rookie defensive tackle Jarran Reed.