There was the source of the buzz during the Seahawks' fifth practice of organized team activities Tuesday in Renton. Yes, it was June 2 and they were practicing basically in underwear and not even in helmets. Still, Jimmy Graham wowed.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had him lined up in the slot, on a wing, at the end of the interior line like an "old-fashioned" tight end and on the flanks as a wide receiver. The play caller said after the show that's how the offense will employ Graham this season, as the Saints did before his trade to Seattle.
"It's been truly amazing so far," Graham said of his two-plus months as a Seahawk. "This place has exceeded my expectations -- by far. ... The players run the team, and they hold each other accountable. Everyone competes -- at everything..."
It was a red-zone work day, and Seattle traded two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round draft choice to New Orleans in March to feature Graham inside the 20-yard line. And on his second practice as a Seahawk, Graham got featured, all right. Russell Wilson threw about a half-dozen passes to him in the end zone. Seam routes, out routes, crosses along the end line, curls inside the goal line. He caught passes over starters and reserves alike -- then leaped and spiked and dunked the ball emphatically each time.
Teammates roared and howled. Defenders such as Richard Sherman at first protested to the college officials working the scrimmaging. Then they eventually joined in the fun surrounding Graham.
"That's just what I do," the smiling former University of Miami basketball player said afterward. "That's what I've done, even in the games. Well, now it's illegal to dunk (thanks to him doing it and bending goal posts) ... but we'll see about that."
Rookie free-agent safety Triston Wade had a particularly rough go of it trying to stay with the league's most productive tight end the last three years. Graham caught throws over Wade's helmet and back, around him, past him. After one such play, coach Pete Carroll came up to Wade in the defense's huddle and put him arm around him back, as if to console him like a father would.
“Jimmy looks great as you saw today. He’s an unbelievable talent and it’s great to have him," Wilson said Tuesday. "He’s a great added addition to what we already have.
"The timing is great, I’ll say that. The timing is right where we want it to be -- with all the guys, honestly."
The only defender I saw stay step for step in Graham's path on a route: Kam Chancellor. They both laughed as Graham tried to get free from the strong safety but couldn't into the end zone from the slot. More evidence Chancellor is fresher than ever this offseason, after not needing a postseason surgery for a change.
Here's what else I saw at the indoor practice as the second week of voluntary OTAs continued, again with the caveat that we are still more than three months before the first game:
--As mentioned Tuesday, B.J. Daniels is in a blue jersey as a full-time wide receiver now, no longer in the red of a quarterback. That leaves Seattle with two QBs, Wilson and former arena-league thrower R.J. Archer. Bevell says that's fine for now, but expect another arm or two to lighten Wilson's and Archer's load for training camp at the end of July if not for the mandatory minicamp June 18. Archer is getting a real chance to stick as a backup, but Carroll has said the team wants to re-sign Tarvaris Jackson. Seems Jackson is waiting for the possibility of getting a starting chance elsewhere, either in the case of another team's injury or a better offer that hasn't yet come for him in free agency.
"Really like R.J.," Bevell said. "He’s come in and done a nice job. He’s picked up our offense. I had him in Minnesota for a real short time there and then he’s kind of bounced around in the Arena League a little bit. He’s picked up the offense quickly. He’s got a great rapport with the players. The receivers love him. He throws with great accuracy. We like what we see so far.”
--WR Chris Matthews was back on the field practicing after missing the start of drills last week. The breakout star of the Super Bowl in February made some routine catches -- but was most noticeable continually holding the ball aloft under the goal post trying to entire Graham to grab it and dunk it.
"He missed a few days. He got stepped on so he missed a few days so we haven’t had him every day, but the parts we’ve seen him, he had a nice catch down there in the red zone today," Bevell said. "He’s done fine.”
--DT Tony McDaniel, WR Kevin Norwood and FB Will Tukuafu were also back practicing after not being on the field at the start of last week.
--My News Tribune colleague Dave Boling said to me during the practice: "You know one guy I keep seeing darting around, looking good, making all his plays? Doug Baldwin."
--DT Brandon Mebane was still on the sidelines watching. He tore his hamstring in November but looks in good shape and has drawn Carroll's praise for his recovery. Mebane is 30 and is scheduled to count $5.5 million against this year's cap. With Jordan Hill's return from injury this spring after an impressive December last season and the potential need to find millions for the new contracts of Wilson and All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, the team's front office may still ask Mebane to restructure his deal to a lower cap hit for this year.
--This is RB Christine Michael's time to impress, with Marshawn Lynch staying away as he always does in the offseason. But Michael missed team scrimmaging both Monday and Tuesday with an injury to which Bevell alluded but did not specify. Consistency remains his issue. When asked what he and the coaches need to see from second-round pick from 2013, Bevell said: "He has a special talent. It’s something that we’re hoping comes to the forefront, that he’ll really take the bit and really compete for us at that spot. There’s no question he has the talent, but he’s just got to do the right thing all the time."
--With Michael out and Lynch gone, FB Derrick Coleman looked good running coming off his broken foot in October, and rookie free agent Thomas Rawls also got some featured time running the ball.
--Rookie third-round pick Tyler Lockett is getting looks as a slot receiver, and is running precise, sharp routes. The early impression is he is more polished technique-wise than most rookie WRs.
--Bevell said he is already scheming plays for his favorite formation to feature Graham and athletic tight end Luke Willson together.
"Our package with our two tight ends and two wideouts and one running back is one of my favorite packages to get into, as well as our three wides. It just gives us a lot more flexibility with two really talented tight ends," the coordinator said. "Both guys can stretch the field, both guys are big, both guys can run after the catch. I think it just presents some trouble for the defense and how they want to match up to that package.”
Graham and Willson look like they are getting along just fine. After one of his catches Graham met Willson on the way back to the huddle and playfully but his arm around Willson's shoulders.
--Wilson took one step and threw outside to Ricardo Lockette during team scrimmaging.
Wait ... shouldn't a mere thought of any semblance of such a play be gone forever from Seattle's playbook?(!).
--The starting offensive line remained the same as last week: Russell Okung LT, slimmed-down Alvin Bailey LG, Lemuel Jeanpierre C, J.R. Sweezy RG, Justin Britt RT.
Rookie draft pick Mark Glowinski, a RG at West Virginia, was backing up Britt at RT. Terry Poole, the rookie pick who was a LT at San Diego State, was backing up Bailey at LG. Patrick Lewis was the No. 2 center, alternating with rookie converted DT Kristjan Sokoli. Line coach Tom Cable is already trying to develop versatility up front, as he loves to do.
--With Bruce Irvin still away mad about money, Kevin Pierre-Louis got some first-team time at outside linebacker and made an interception.
--Former Seahawks quarterback and QBs coach Jim Zorn watched practice from the sidelines.
--Converted safety and former cornerback Eric Pinkins' ongoing trial as a linebacker included him on the line at the end then dropping into coverage in nickel defense. Last year's sixth-round pick is getting the full course in linebacking from new position co-coaches Michael Barrow and Lofa Tatupu.
--The defense had long stretches of stops in the nickel-versus-passing-game scrimmaging. At one point it stopped four consecutive plays for incompletions or no gains, which isn't easy to do in no pads with no contact or no tackling. Then the next play, the offense was guilty of a false start.
Will Blackmon has provided tight coverage as the primary nickel back in the two OTA practices I've seen. Tuesday, the offseason free-agent signee stayed back spying Baldwin, who was moving into the flat as a safety-valve receiver. When Wilson couldn't find any of his other four receivers open he threw to Baldwin in the short flat. Blackmon pounced, almost intercepting the pass for what would have been a big loss of yardage had there been tackling. After the play promoted defensive coordinator Kris Richard jokingly pantomimed a sleeping person amid defenders cheering, inferring Blackmon could have turned out Baldwin's lights had it been a full-contact scrimmage -- which, by the way, the Seahawks rarely if ever do even in training camp anymore.
--Sherman made a great pass breakup in the red zone, reaching over the receiver from behind without contacting him to knock the ball away.
--Pinkins ended the scrimmage showing his defensive-back pedigree. He made a diving breakup over the middle that was almost an interception.