There’s not really a category for this on the roster, but as the Seattle Seahawks started their three-day minicamp on Tuesday, it was clear they have great depth at an important position.
At a time of year when so much of the attention is on the young players — all the shiny and new talent — coach Pete Carroll repeatedly praised the veterans who are teaching the newbies the way it’s done in this program.
On a cool afternoon when the wind pushed whitecaps up onto the nearby shore of Lake Washington, the Seahawks practiced for two hours without pads or contact. The mandatory minicamp, extending through Thursday, will be the team’s final workouts together until the start of training camp.
“I see nothing but good things,” Carroll said of the workouts thus far, although it could be an assessment of his unrelentingly optimistic perspective. “We made a lot of progress; it’s been a really good offseason for us.”
He made it clear that so much of the way the team practices starts from the veterans and works its way down the depth chart.
Asked about Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor and his influence, Carroll cited his increasingly influential leadership. “He’s got experience (and) the wisdom,” he said. “He’s got a big voice around here: When he speaks, everybody shuts up and listens.”
And of the return of free agent defensive end Chris Clemons, formerly a key pass-rusher in his first round with the Seahawks, Carroll pointed to his impact on the development of second-year end Frank Clark. “I don’t think Frank could get a better guy to learn from and to watch.”
A small bit of drama heading into minicamp was whether Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett would be on hand. He didn’t attend the voluntary organized training activities, and he’d made it clear he believes he has outplayed the contract he signed in 2014.
But Bennett was at the facility, although he didn’t practice because of a minor ankle injury.
“(Mike) contributes to the whole team mentality the way he competes,” Carroll said. “He loves battling, he loves the team, and he gives it up and proves it every time we play.”
Bennett said he never considered holding out of minicamp in an attempt to pressure the Seahawks into an early contract extension.
“I just want to be a great teammate, show my support and do everything I need to do so we can get back to Houston, Texas,” Bennett said. “I’m very motivated to get back to the Super Bowl in my hometown. That’s all it’s about.”
Bennett said he didn’t expect to practice the next two days, but should be fully recovered by the start of training camp.
Asked about his contract, which has two more seasons, Bennett was tactful. “It’s up to the organization what they do. I just want to be a great teammate and a great player. … I don’t pay too much attention to too many contracts. It can make your stomach hurt.”
Bennett was No. 2 on a recent USA Today list of the most underpaid players in the NFL. He’s entering the third season of a four-year, $28.5 million deal.
He grumbled publicly about it before last season, but showed up for minicamp and training camp and went on to have the best season of his career with 10 sacks and a league-high 84 quarterback pressures.
“I told him quite frankly how impressed I was at how he handled himself and was a leader in a very positive way,” Carroll said. “Michael never backed off. He was pushing to create all the influence he could in a very positive way. I’ve got a lot of respect for Mike.”
NO NATE SIGNING
The tryout that the Seahawks gave former University of Washington and NBA basketball player Nate Robinson on Monday did not result in a signing.
“He looked really quick,” Carroll said. “He’s an amazing athlete.”
The Seahawks already have a number of veterans and prospects on the depth chart at cornerback, Robinson’s most obvious position.
Robinson played one season of football at UW, appearing in all 13 games and starting six at cornerback as a freshman in 2002.
Carroll was coy when asked about any under-the-radar young players who have stood out thus far. “We’ve done it well again with signing free agents,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to give away too much to other teams who might be interested down the road. … Rookie tight end Nick Vannett hasn’t been able to prove his abilities as a blocker, since there has been no padded practices with contact, but he has impressed the staff with his ability as a receiver. … The top candidate to start at left tackle, Garry Gilliam, will not participate in the minicamp drills as he continues to recover from the removal of a cyst in his knee. Carroll said he’s very close to being ready and should not have any lingering effects.