Good morning. First off, I’d like to join the many of you who thanked Todd Dybas for his good works for us at the TNT. Aside from all you saw in the paper and on the blog, Todd was a remarkably dedicated worker. The best example is that although the moving trucks were showing up at his place Monday morning, he was at practice Sunday afternoon and cranking copy for the paper and fodder for the blog. No lame duck, Todd pounded out high-quality news to the final minute. That’s a real pro, in my book, so we’re obviously going to miss him. As to a beat-reporter replacement, we’re up in the air a bit. We’ll have some other staffers jump in, and I’ll be adding some reporter work to my column duties, too. You won’t be left unserved.
The Hawks have Monday off. To traditionalists conditioned to covering non-stop double-day practices during training camp, it seems strange that they’d get a day off after only three single-day practices, but the new NFL approach surely seems to result in sharper workouts. As Pete Carroll said the other day, that the first thing this team needed to do after last season was recapture the practice tempo and intensity, and it certainly seems as if they have.
From my notebook while watching Sunday’s practice:
--Richard Sherman handled himself as expected during his first press exposure Sunday. He’s been practicing at the same level of hyper-competitiveness that has been his norm since he got here. Mostly, he’s made the big plays look easy. When asked whether the contract and the national attention would change him, he made it clear he’s policing his effort every day on film, “to make sure I am doing my job correctly.” He voiced obvious distain for those who allow the money to change their focus. “You see some guys who make 'business decisions' … they don’t dive on the pile, they don’t take that hit, they turn down this play, they turn down that play … I think about making as many plays as I can when we are out there.”
--One of the posts asked about rookie receiver Paul Richardson. One play Sunday showed that he’s not just a straight-line burner, as he caught a ball against soft coverage and was able to turn and juke his way past a defender who had broken down in good position to make the tackle. On another play that has to be an indicator of what they want to do with him, Richardson was aligned wide to one side, with Percy Harvin on the other side. Suddenly, defenders are having to make some difficult decisions about covering deep threats on both sides . On that play, though, Russell Wilson was sacked, so we had no outcome.
--On the topic of Richardson, though, I noted an extremely athletic pass defense by A.J. Jefferson, who covered Richardson into the end zone, turned, tracked the ball, and high-pointed it to prevent a touchdown. Another good play from a new guy in the secondary came the other day when rookie Dion Bailey made an impressive leaping interception of a Wilson pass on a scramble.
--In the secondary, it was interesting to see Tharold Simon playing a lot at right cornerback after having played some at left corner in minicamp when Sherman was getting a rest. It may be because they see him as the third best outside corner and he needs to learn both in case either of the starters goes down. I wonder if he’s over there because he might be getting to a level where he can pose a real challenge to Byron Maxwell. Maxwell made some notable plays in minicamp, including a spectacular leaping interception. But both of the long touchdown passes that Doug Baldwin has pulled in from Wilson in the first three days came on up the left sideline against Maxwell.
--Being the first day in pads, I focused on the pass-protection drills. It’s foolish to make broad judgments of the big guys when they’re in shorts. We’ve talked at some length on the blog about how James Carpenter is leaner and playing with a lot more energy. Absolutely true. But what happens when he puts on the pads? Well, he had a really good day on Sunday. He looked strong against Kevin Williams, Jordan Hill and Tony McDaniel, whom he stonewalled twice. He laid such a good block on an edge run in team sessions on Saturday that Tom Cable very enthusiastically congratulated him. Can his knees hold up? Well, he’s carrying less weight, which has to be a benefit.
J.R. Sweezy had turned into a solid run blocker late last season, but seemed to still be learning the tricks to pass protection. He looks a little bigger, and early indications are his pass pro has picked up. On one play, Jackson Jeffcoat crossed his face and Sweezy got under his pads and launched him. Alvin Bailey had a good day in protection, too, doing well against a couple speed rushers in Benson Mayowa and Cliff Avril.
On Saturday, rookie Justin Britt had trouble with the speed of rookie Cassius Marsh, but, an example of Tom Cable’s assertion that Britt is a very fast learner, Britt on Sunday had two very solid blocks of Marsh – one of the young stars of camp, to my eyes. More telling, I thought, was a two-play series where Britt was beaten by Avril on a speed rush, but came back with better technique to handle O’Brien Schofield on the same move the next play.
I talked to Cable after practice and will have a column for tomorrow morning on the status of the often-questioned offensive line.
--We may assume the next few days will include more Marshawn Lynch drama. It appears that Tuesday could be the day when Lynch’s absence goes beyond just the $30,000 fine per day, and reaches a stage where the Hawks can start recouping some of his signing bonus. While $30k a day is a year’s salary for many, Lynch can absorb it, and perhaps is counting on the Hawks to use their discretion and not apply the fine when he returns. But having to pay back signing bonus money could get much deeper into his pockets and force a return. But what happens then?
Dybas writes in the TNT about the emphasis on cutting down aggressive play in the secondary. When this was mentioned, Carroll immediately saw it as a compliment to the effectiveness the Seahawks have shown.
This Mike Klis column in the Denver Post to get you going this morning, which appears under the headline: “Broncos will get their chances to shut the Seahawks’ big mouths.” Interesting that tight end Julius Thomas said: “When you win and you’re the Super Bowl champion, you’ve earned the right to say whatever you want.”
SI.com ran a story outlining the plan for backups to Marshawn Lynch