The Seahawks finished the sixth of their seven organized-team-activity practices on Thursday. The seventh and final one is Friday, also the third such practice open to the media this offseason.
Here’s what I’ve seen and learned on the field through the first two open sessions this week and last:
▪ It’s not getting talked about amid Eddie Lacy’s newness and weight clauses and staying in shape, but Thomas Rawls is flying around the field. The third-year running back is the first to every drill. He’s sprinting through carries and catches 30, 40 yards past the end of the play. He’s yelling support to teammates.
He jogged back to fellow backs lined up well behind the offensive formation during a red-zone drill Tuesday and double high-fived them all. After running through the back of the end zone trying to catch a pass, he jogged off the field and down the sideline, tapping every one of the defense backs on the shoulder and then fist-bumping with Richard Sherman.
Rawls knows the Seahawks wouldn’t have go out and signed Lacy, the 2013 NFL offensive rookie of the year with the Green Bay Packers, if they were fully confident Rawls could carry the lead-back role himself for an entire season. He has yet to do that through his first two, injury-filled seasons in the NFL with Seattle.
It’s only June, three months before the games get real. But Rawls looks dutifully motivated upon Lacy’s arrival.
▪ Sherman has been on a very conspicuous goodwill tour in front of all media members following practices.
Following the first one open to reporters, the three-time All-Pro cornerback walked off the field and chatted with general manager John Schneider. Then Sherman and the GM who oddly and openly spoke of fielding trade offers this winter and spring for him hugged. After the second practice open to the media, Sherman talked amicably with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in front of us.
Yes, they have a particular history you may recall, from December.
As for thoughts Sherman will talk to the media Friday, don’t count on it.
▪ Earl Thomas hasn’t done anything in the two practices open to the media this week and last. That’s been after coach Pete Carroll said the three-time All-Pro free safety just about fully participated in the first two OTA practices last week then rested. It’s been six months, as of Thursday, four days since Thomas broke his tibia.
It’s hard to believe the Seahawks or Thomas himself thought he’d be on the field for the first OTA the night he broke his shin colliding with teammate Kam Chancellor trying to intercept a Cam Newton pass Dec. 4 in the win over Carolina. Especially given Thomas posted on Twitter that night “This game has been so good to me no regrets.. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.”
Those thoughts are long gone now.
Asked if he was surprised Thomas was back on the field, in whatever capacity, wearing a helmet already, All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner shook his head from side to side.
“Not at all,” Wagner said Tuesday. “His work ethic. The way he prepares. Nothing was going to surprise me about this injury. The only thing that was going to surprise me about this injury is if he didn’t come back, which that wasn’t going to be the case.”
Carroll’s biggest news on Thomas is him saying there is no doubt he will be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.
Bradley McDougald, signed from Tampa Bay in the offseason, has been the first-team free safety in OTAs.
▪ Rookie Delano Hill has been the strong safety while Kam Chancellor has been out watching. Chancellor had surgery on both ankles in the offseason but is expected to be full go for training camp.
▪ Michael Bennett hasn’t been at OTAs. Nothing new there. The Pro Bowl defensive end hasn’t been to voluntary workouts in years. He’s at his offseason home in Hawaii instead. Can’t blame him for that choice, eh?
Now if Bennett isn’t at team headquarters for the mandatory veteran minicamp that runs next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, that would be news. The team could fine him for missing that, and he doesn’t like to give away his money.
▪ The first-team offensive line in both practices open to the media has been George Fant at left tackle, Rees Odhiambo at left guard, Justin Britt at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Germain Ifedi at right tackle.
Odhiambo has been taking team drills as Luke Joeckel eases back into full participation following season-ending knee surgery in October when he was with Jacksonville. Joeckel has been the left guard and the left tackle, in that order, alternating during position drills with line coach Tom Cable at the start of practices.
▪ Shaquill Griffin has been the first-team right cornerback from the first team snaps of the first rookie minicamp last month through Tuesday’s practice. Yes, three-fourths of the starting defensive secondary has been on the sidelines watching and not participating: Thomas, Chancellor (offseason surgery on both ankles) and DeShawn Shead (recovering from his major knee injury in January). But when Sherman has been the first-team left cornerback, Griffin has been the first man at right corner. The third-round pick is going to get every chance to win that job this preseason, it appears.
▪ LSU track champion Cyril Grayson looks far more like a wide receiver than he should, for being only a couple months into his football career. Sure, the 400-meter sprinter is as fast -- or faster -- than expected; he’s drawn “oooohs” from teammates and staffers at his lighting-like cuts and turns upfield after catching and after fielding kicks. But his routes, hands and footwork on the sideline boundaries are more refined that I thought they’d be.
Carroll has likened the development path for Grayson to that of Ricardo Lockette, another college track sprinter the Seahawks turned into a special-teams ace and wide receiver a half-dozen years ago. That means the Seahawks are willing to be patient letting Grayson grow into those roles. But don’t be surprised if his athleticism and speed couple with the Seahawks’ excitement over his potential equals a spot on the active roster to begin the season. He may be too attractive to try to sneak through waivers and onto the practice squad at the end of Seattle’s preseason.
▪ Luke Willson looks noticeably bigger and bulkier as he solidifies his place as the No. 2 tight end behind Jimmy Graham.
Graham, of course, is entering the final year of his big contract Seattle inherited in its trade for him from New Orleans in the spring of 2015. Graham’s salary-cap charge is $10 million this season, including $7.9 million in base pay. Willson is entering the final year of his contract, at a salary-cap charge of $1.8 million.
The Seahawks made moves with backup tight ends on Thursday.