Pete Carroll (above) put it best: "This is not real football."
Helmets, only "shells" over shoulders and shorts -- this year new ones, dark blue with the green dotted stripes down each side to mimic the Seahawks' game pants. No contact. Pretty much pushing along the line of scrimmage.
Yet since it's the first football since Seattle's excruciating loss to New England in the final seconds of Super Bowl 49 on Feb. 1, here is what I saw yesterday in the first rookie minicamp practice at team headquarters in Renton.
--Tyler Lockett was the debuting "star," if there is such a thing during a minicamp in May. Carroll has already pretty much handed the third-round draft choice from Kansas State the punt- and kickoff-return jobs; it's why Seattle traded three draft choices to Washington last weekend to move up 26 spots to get him. In these minicamps and OTAs, Lockett is going to get prime chances to show off why he is K-State's career receiving leader.
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Without full pads and contact, the skill-position players -- especially wide receivers -- tend to stand out in settings like this. It's pretty much hours of pass-and-tap scrimmaging, with defensive backs closing in on receivers but not hitting them to break up passes as they would in full pads or in a game. So receivers make catches downfield in these practices that would likely be incomplete -- and maybe with the wide out splatted on the turf by a big hit -- in a game.
"Tyler was all over the field catching balls and making plays," Carroll said. "He caught the ball really well in the opportunity in the kick-return stuff."
Friday he darted across the middle for at least three catches in team scrimmaging, including one for a touchdown. Of course, there was no Kam Chancellor menacingly patrolling that middle, as their will be in June's mandatory minicamp for all Seahawks and in training camp that begins at the end of July.
--Speaking of the Seahawks' star strong safety: Chancellor's half-brother is in this minicamp as an undrafted free-agent signee. Keenan Lambert, a 6-foot, 209-pound strong safety from Norfolk State in Chancellor's home state of Virginia spent part of Friday's practice out of action on the sideline with his helmet off, a trainer attending to him. Lambert appeared to be suffering from cramps, which also got to top draft choice Frank Clark and a few other new Seahawks on the sunny, 74-degree day off Lake Washington.
It appeared the new guys weren't used to the go-go pace at which Carroll and his assistants have the Seahawks drill. At one point, new linebackers coach Michael Barrow bellowed "STOP WALKING! DON'T EVER WALK!"
--Barrow, the former University of Miami star who played in the NFL before his most recent job as a Hurricanes assistant, is a non-stop, roaring, arm-pumping, leg-stomping fireball for his linebackers. He was leading the defense in some R-rated chanting before drives.
Barrow is the replacement -- along with former Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu -- for now-Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. If he keeps up the pace he set Friday, he may need a new voice by December.
--Carroll is doing a lot of coaching-the-coach during plays and between drills with his new assistants, which includes promoted defensive coordinator Kris Richard and the return of Dwaine Board as defensive line coach, the job he had under Mike Holmgren about a decade ago. Chris Cash and Andre Curtis are the assistant secondary coaches in Richard's old role.
--Sixth-round draft choice Kristjan Sokoli was a defensive tackle at the University of Buffalo. But he looks quick on his feet and portrays potential as the Seahawks convert him into a center. That's where Sokoli played yesterday, splitting time with Jared Wheeler.
--Offensive-line coach Tom Cable is all smiles with three primary projects in this offseason: Sokoli, and trying out fourth-round picks Terry Poole at left guard (he was a left tackle at San Diego State) and Mark Glowinski at right guard, where he played at West Virginia after two junior-college seasons at tackle. Left and right guard is where those two were Friday.
Carroll said Cable is "like a kid in a candy store."
Cable was so fired up he was doing push-ups while the players were stretching before practice.
--How basic is this minicamp? How far are we from the first game in September? Clark and the defensive ends spent 15 minutes in individual drills perfecting their stances. Butts down!
--Nate Boyer, the former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, was impressive in his first day of long snapping. Carroll agreed. I think having the 34-year-old with so many life experiences beyond football around as a second snapper behind Clint Gresham deep into training camp -- as in, until the final cuts -- is worth the roster spot for all the intangibles he can share with teammates in the locker room.
Then again, given my previous life I may be biased.
--Seventh-round draft choice Ryan Murphy ran across the field to make a tumbling interception Friday. The knock on him at Oregon State is he dropped too many interceptions. But he looks the part of a safety, at least he did on day one.
--The Seahawks list Obum Gwacham, the sixth-round pick from Nigeria whom Oregon State converted from wide receiver to defensive end last season, as 6-5 and 249 pounds. He looks more like 210. He is extremely tall and lanky, almost hovering over the line of scrimmage as he lined up at end opposite Clark Friday. Time for way more of those Chipotle burritos he credited for putting on 20 pounds in seven weeks. He looks like he needs at least 30 more lbs.
--Kasen Williams and Jesse Callier had fun bonding Friday, their first Seahawks day trying out as non-roster minicamp participants from the University of Washington. After a run off left tackle by Callier, Williams waited for his former Husky teammate to job back to the line before congratulating him and joining him on the jog back to the huddle.
Williams had a good catch in traffic inside the sideline on a long out route. Last weekend he'd agreed to terms as an undrafted free agent with Cincinnati, but then failed his physical. Williams, at 6-1 and a rock-solid 219, is the kind of physical receiver Carroll loves but has recently lacked with the Seahawks. He may have a chance to be invited back past this weekend.
--The quarterback for most of the first day's scrimmaging was R.J. Archer. He is 27 years old, a former William and Mary passer who has spent four seasons in the Arena Football League. He was in the training camp of the Detroit Lions in 2012 and spent time on both Minnesota Vikings’ active roster and practice squad in 2010. He showed a quick release and decent accuracy Friday.
--The Seahawks have signed six of their eight draft choices from last weekend: Poole, Glowinski, Gwacham, cornerback Tye Smith, Murphy and Sokoli. The two left to get done are Clark and Lockett, the top two picks.
This process is so much quicker and more routine these days with the rookie pay scale slotted per the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.
Today for Sunday's paper, I will be featuring Boyer and all he's lived in his remarkable life. Boling is going to share what he sees from the offensive linemen the Seahawks drafted.