About 1,500 folks showed up for this morning’s practice, as the Seattle Seahawks opened up training camp for the first time to the public since moving to the team’s new Renton practice facility last year.
The team worked out for about two hours. The crowd was treated to some nice catches by T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch and others during individual and team period.
However, the day was mostly a chance for season ticket holders and others to interact with the team.
“I think it’s great,” said Mike Dana of Lakewood, a Hawks season ticket holder since 1988. “It’s good seeing all of these fans. But I’m an old Cheney guy. So I loved going over to Cheney just because over there you had a lot more access to the players going in and coming out of practice.
“But this is nice, and it’s good seeing all of the people out here getting geared up for the football season already.”
Defensive backs coach Tim Lewis was pleased to see the crowd on hand. He said the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Carolina Panthers all had massive crowds when he coached at those to places, and that the fans raised the energy on the field.
“The cheers were funny,” Lewis said. “Some of the guys were looking around during one-on-ones and like, ‘Wait a minute? I made a great play and no cheers.’ And then the receivers catch the ball out-of-bounds, and they’re like, ‘Great job.’ So it was neat to see.”
On the field, Walter Jones (back spasms), Ray Willis (sore knee) and Brandon Mebane (rest) all sat out of this morning’s practice. Players were dressed in just shells and helmets. Aaron Curry was not in attendance, as the team and his agents continue to negotiate.
There’s some question as to the competition at free safety. Hawks general manager Tim Ruskell mentioned in our conversation with him last week that Brian Russell would have some competition from Jordan Babineaux during training camp, but that hasn’t seemed to trickle down to the field.
“I don’t know if that’s the case,” Lewis said. “Brian’s the starting safety, and Babs works with the second group.”
Lewis noted that head coach Jim Mora ultimately will decide who the starts at free safety. But for right now, Russell has been getting all of the reps with the first unit, while Babs has been working with the second unit.
Whatever happens, Babineaux, who has been used predominately in nickel and dime packages in the past, appreciates the chance to get more playing time by getting some reps at safety.
“Safety’s always felt like my most natural position,” Babineaux said. “Although at times I was able to play cornerback as well, I just really was trying to find a way to get on the field and make an impact on defense. … Being able to play the safety position I feel like I have a better opportunity to maximize my potential.”
A few tidbits from practice.
Rookie offensive lineman looked better during one-on-one pass rush drills today, holding his own inside against Lawrence Jackson.
The Hawks worked on two-minute drill today, both against air and in team drills at the end of practice. That’s where Houshmandzadeh made a nice catch on a post-corner route in the end zone for a score.
Housh also got deep against Kevin Hobbs during one-on-one drills.
The Seahawks also tried a reverse pass, with Housh trying to hit Nate Burleson deep, but Russell was not fooled and wound up with the pick.
Patrick Kerney worked at right end during team drills for the first time during training camp and looked good.