Seahawks Insider Blog

The circus comes to town

It should get crazy around the VMAC headquarters today as ESPN shoots a two-hour coverage of practice. It’s called “SportsCenter Special: Seahawks Training Camp,” and is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. It was interesting to see Jon Gruden on the field as early as Sunday preparing for the broadcast. Apparently, they’ve done some feature interviews to have in the can to run during practice.  Features on Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman are expected. Kenny Mayne, a native of Kent, will host the special. Mayne was once signed as a free-agent quarterback by the Seahawks. He had been Randall Cunningham’s backup at UNLV.

Of more interest than the crews and commentators will be seeing whether some of the banged up Seahawks like Christine Michael, Kevin Norwood and Michael Bowie are back after Monday’s day off. Michael and Bowie both had what was called shoulder “tweaks” and Norwood was nursing a foot injury he suffered earlier in off-season workouts. The most interesting of those situations is that of Bowie, who, as a second-year player, would be expected to have the lead over rookie Justin Britt in the battle for the start at right tackle. Bowie has missed most of the previous two practices, giving Britt a lot of time with the first unit.

Norwood has made some impressive catches and generally looks smooth and comfortable with his routes and responsibilities. If it turns out that Michael has to miss much time, that gives the bulk of the snaps to Robert Turbin, as the two young backs duel for playing time in the absence of Marshawn Lynch.

--We had a nice teleconference visit with Walter Jones on Monday afternoon as a preview to his Hall of Fame induction on Saturday. I’ll be doing a column about it later in the week. It’s so interesting to see how this process has caused Jones to grow into a confident public speaker accustomed to being in the spotlight.  His answers on the short teleconference amounted to more quotes than he gave us in his entire career. I covered nearly every snap of Jones’ career, and felt it a privilege to see one of the game’s greats operate. He played with such an understated efficiency, and made it look so easy, that it took a while for some national observers to catch on to just how dominant he was.

Before his Hall of Fame voting was announced last winter, I did a big feature anticipating his recognition. In perfect timing, I bumped into former Hawk linebacker Chad Brown on radio row at the media center during Super Bowl week. I asked him for his recollections of practicing against Walter. He urged me to sit down because he had so many stories to tell.

Brown had been one of the Hawks’ prized free agents in 1997, having been to his first Pro Bowl after racking up 13 sacks the previous season. During the first practice of training camp, he lined up against Jones. Brown told of being ready to put the rookie in his place, and unleashing against him a move he used the previous season to beat Jacksonville’s Tony Boselli for a pair of sacks.

But Jones, in his first pass protection drills as a pro, stonewalled Brown twice. He had such balance and foot quickness that he didn’t have to over-react to the speed rush and make himself vulnerable to the cut-back. Brown recalls being stunned, and, over time, affected negatively by Jones’ excellence. Remember, Brown is a proud athlete who played with an amazing motor, so it's with unbelievable respect that he admits this. But he now wonders if going against such a dominating tackle in practice every day caused him to lose his confidence and not further refine his rushing repertoire because Jones seemed to just be able to handle everything he threw at him.  I found it an amazing compliment to Jones.

--This is an ESPN Insider story, but it’s worth buying the package. Our friend and former colleague Mike Sando did a lengthy look at what the Seahawks are facing as they try to manipulate their salary situation to keep open their window as a competitively elite franchise.  He focuses on how Russell Wilson’s salary of $750,000 is roughly 3.8 percent of what he’s likely to make when he becomes eligible for a new deal after the 2014 season. He’s signed through the 2015 season, but could be open to an extension during the next off season. He could be looking at a $20 million annual average, Sando writes.

After having signed Chancellor, Thomas, Sherman and Baldwin, the extension of Wilson will force the Hawks to take hard looks at the value of Cliff Avril, Russell Okung, Malcolm Smith, Marshawn Lynch, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner as their contract situations ripen.

Some links:

--Tony Drovetto at Seahawks.com did a nice intro to Cassius Marsh … a standout early in camp

--Terry Blount of ESPN.com looks at the new Seahawks cornerback Terrell Thomas

--The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Seahawks secondary market tickets are the most expensive in the NFL.

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