Monthly Archives: August 2017

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The Seattle Seahawks ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:

Offseason goals/grade: The Seahawks’ had two main goals this offseason: getting their run game back on track and increasing their depth on defense. The team signed offensive linemen Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi while drafting Ethan Pocic in the second round. They also added Eddie Lacy to team up with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise. They spent four of their first five draft picks on defense in addition to signing safety Bradley McDougald and a trio of linebackers. Defensively, the Seahawks should be fine if they can stay healthy, and this is still a Super Bowl-caliber roster. But did they do enough up front to provide an upgrade? Or are they counting too much on second-year players to make the leap? The answer to that question could tell the story of their season. C.
Adding Bradley McDougald, right, makes the Seahawks better equipped to deal with injury. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Move I liked: Signing McDougald to a one-year contract. Last season, the defense fell apart without Earl Thomas. The unit allowed 12 touchdowns with one interception and an opponents’ passer rating of 100.3. Thomas is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken leg, but the Seahawks needed to add insurance behind him. McDougald has been practicing mostly at free safety but has the ability to play both spots, and the Seahawks could experiment with using him in a big nickel look. In addition to signing McDougald, the Seahawks drafted four defensive backs. They are much better equipped to deal with an injury in the secondary than they were a year ago.

Move I didn’t like: Signing Luke Joeckel to a one-year, $8 million deal with $7 million guaranteed. The problem here is that the move doesn’t give the Seahawks much upside. If Joeckel comes in and plays well, the team will have to pay big money to retain him next offseason. Such a move would carry risk, considering Joeckel’s past struggles and injury issues. And if Joeckel doesn’t play well, it’ll be the latest in a long string of poor evaluations on the offensive line. It would have been nice to see the Seahawks sign Joeckel to a more team-friendly deal where they could have held onto him for a reasonable cost if he played well.

Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Who’s playing right cornerback? The Seahawks brought DeShawn Shead back, but he’s recovering from a knee injury and probably won’t be ready for the start of the season. Jeremy Lane could get a shot at replacing Shead, but he has been playing mostly nickel. Rookie Shaquill Griffin has impressed and appears to be picking up the scheme quickly. Otherwise, a lesser-known player like Neiko Thorpe could line up at right corner to start the season. Richard Sherman’s name was floated in trade rumors, but he’s staying put at left cornerback. Whoever lines up opposite him figures to see plenty of action from opposing quarterbacks — especially early on.

Salary-cap space: $8,464,133 (source: Overthecap.com)
2018 draft picks: 1. DT Malik McDowell, 2. OL Ethan Pocic, 3. CB Shaquill Griffin, 4. SS Delano Hill, 5. DT Nazair Jones, 6. WR Amara Darboh, 7. FS Tedric Thompson, 8. CB Mike Tyson, 9. OT Justin Senior, 10. WR David Moore, 11. RB Chris Carson.

Undrafted rookie free agents signed: OG Jordan Roos, FB Algernon Brown, LB Otha Peters, DT Jeremy Liggins, WR Darreus Rogers, TE Tyrone Swoopes, LB Nick Usher, TE Stevie Donatell, WR Cyril Grayson Jr., FB Kyle Coleman.

Unrestricted free agents signed: RB Eddie Lacy, OL Luke Joeckel, OL Oday Aboushi, DB Bradley McDougald, QB Austin Davis, K Blair Walsh, DE David Bass, LB Arthur Brown, DB Marcus Cromartie, LB Terence Garvin, DL Dion Jordan, LB Michael Wilhoite, CB Demetrius McCray,

Restricted free agents signed: None.

Players acquired via trade: None.

 

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RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark said he apologized to Germain Ifedi and the rest of his teammates after punching Ifedi in the face and getting kicked out of practice earlier this month.

“It was a heat of the moment thing,” Clark said. “I let my emotions overcome the situation. For a brief moment, I thought that myself, that I was bigger than the team in all regards. I thought about myself first before I thought about my defense as a whole and my defensive line, to be more specific. Because it was a one-on-one drill. And that was basically it. It was an overheated thing. We always get heated up. It’s O-Line, D-Line. It’s supposed to happen. But it just got taken too far.”

“I just wanted to let them know that I was actually sorry. And I wanted to let Germain know that I was sorry, besides the team. … I just wanted to let him know that it was my fault and that it would never get to that point again.”

Frank Clark, on his apology to the Seahawks and teammate Germain Ifedi
During an Aug. 3 practice, Ifedi was jawing with defensive players when Clark punched him. Ifedi wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time, and the punch knocked him to the ground. Pete Carroll ejected Clark from practice, and Ifedi missed three days of work because of the injury.

Carroll held Clark out of practice the day after the fight to discipline him. Clark missed additional days because of an MCL sprain in his knee.

Clark said he has apologized to Ifedi individually.

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“The biggest message was just letting them know how remorseful I was,” Clark said. “I just wanted to let them know that I was actually sorry. And I wanted to let Germain know that I was sorry, besides the team. That was my biggest thing. I just wanted to let him know that it was my fault and that it would never get to that point again. I’m sure things are going to get heated again. It’s football. It’s the offensive line and defensive line. But you’ve got to be aware of those situations and know how to take the actions out another kind of way.”

In addition to meeting with Carroll, Clark said he also heard from general manager John Schneider.

“John Schneider came up to me and said, ‘Do we have to have another one of those conversations?’ And the first thing I said was, ‘No,'” Clark said. “Because three years in, I understand what it takes to be a part of this team and what it takes to be a part of the NFL.”

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RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks held a mock game on Monday, and players will get the day off on Tuesday. With the break in camp, here are some takeaways from what we’ve seen so far.

This might be the best group of pass-catching weapons that Russell Wilson has ever had.

During the mock game, Wilson hit tight end Jimmy Graham on a crossing route, and Graham sprinted up the right sideline before he was knocked out of bounds. Later, Wilson connected with wide receiver Doug Baldwin over the middle on multiple occasions. On a bootleg, he found wide receiver Paul Richardson near the sideline. Wilson also hit running back C.J. Prosise down the left sideline for what looked like a 50-yard gain. Unofficially, Wilson went 15-for-18 in the mock game. One of the incompletions was a drop, and another was a throw-away.

 

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The Seahawks’ quarterback has been on fire the past two days, and his impressive play has showcased the diverse array of weapons at his disposal. They can win with speed by targeting guys such as Tyler Lockett and Richardson. They can create mismatches with guys like Graham and Prosise. And Baldwin presents a problem in the slot on a weekly basis.

Depending on the opponent, the coaches will have to determine how best to employ the weapons. Still, this is shaping up to be the best group of pass-catchers that Wilson has ever played with.

Offensive line questions remain.

This, of course, remains the big caveat. Wilson needs time to find his pass-catchers.

During the mock game, the starting offensive line from left to right: George Fant, Rees Odhiambo, Justin Britt, Mark Glowinski and Ethan Pocic. Neither Germain Ifedi nor Luke Joeckel participated. Oday Aboushi rotated in at right guard with the first team.

It’s tough to know where things stand with the Seahawks’ offensive line until the preseason begins. At some point, they’ll have to decide on the starting five. But if the past is any indication, they’ll take their time before settling on starters.

The Seahawks still need to figure out running back roles.
Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy rotated series with the starters Monday, with Rawls taking the field first. The Seahawks signed Lacy to be their feature back, but if Rawls remains healthy, he’s clearly going to get the chance to compete for a share of the workload.

Then there’s seventh-round pick Chris Carson. If he were a first- or second-round pick, he’d probably be the talk of camp right now. He headlines the list of players to watch during the first preseason game on Sunday.

As mentioned above, Prosise got matched up against rookie safety Tedric Thompson and raced past him down the left sideline, creating huge separation before hauling in a deep bomb from Wilson. If healthy, Prosise adds a unique element to the Seahawks’ offense.

Extra points.

Coach Pete Carroll is clearly excited about rookie Shaquill Griffin. Griffin appeared to hold his own as the team’s starting right cornerback Monday with Jeremy Lane sidelined. … Richardson was taking reps opposite Baldwin with the starters when the Seahawks were in two-wide receiver sets. When they moved to three, Kearse came onto the field. … The backup QB situation looks shaky. Six drives quarterbacked by Trevone Boykin and Austin Davis yielded three punts, two interceptions and a field goal. … Carson got reps ahead of Alex Collins at running back with the second team.

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RENTON, Wash. — Tyrone Swoopes has no interest in trying to mask the difficulty involved with his transition from college quarterback to NFL tight end.

Asked if he’s ever played tight end before at any level, Swoopes said, “Never in my life.”

What about special teams?

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“Never played special teams either,” he said. “All of this that I’m doing is new. This is my first time doing it. But I’m willing to learn and do anything I can to get on the field.”

Swoopes (6-foot-4, 247 pounds) was a four-star quarterback recruit at Texas. He completed 56.3 percent of his passes and threw 17 touchdowns with 13 interceptions during his four seasons with the Longhorns.

His career as a college quarterback never quite got on track, but Swoopes found a role in Texas’ “18-wheeler” package, carrying the ball successfully in short-yardage situations. Swoopes ran for 24 touchdowns at Texas, including 19 in the past two seasons. In 2015, he totaled 451 rushing yards and averaged 6.1 YPC.

Now he’s trying to make the Seahawks’ roster as a tight end. Swoopes ran 4.65 at Texas’ pro day, and Seattle added him as one of its eight undrafted free agents.

“He caught a couple of great balls today,” coach Pete Carroll said after the first day of the Seahawks’ rookie camp. “He looked real natural. He’s obviously a great athlete. He caught a terrific pass in the walk-through today, then had a couple of really nice catches out here that show he’s got athletic ability to have a chance.

“We’ll just see how it goes and see how far he can take it. He has been playing a lot of quarterback, so we’re not quite sure how he’s going to block anybody, but he’s willing. He’s a big body and a very talented athlete. That jumped out today.”

The Seahawks have six tight ends on their 90-man roster, and three are locks to make the team: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson and Nick Vannett. But Seattle has kept four tight ends in the past, and if the coaches like Swoopes’ upside, he could have a chance. Graham and Willson are free agents after 2017. The practice squad could also be an option for Swoopes.
“When I signed, my agent, we talked about it and came to the decision it’d be best to use my athleticism on special teams and be able to make plays and block,” Swoopes said. “So we just came to the decision that this was my best chance to get an opportunity at the next level.”

Swoopes said he started watching film of Willson and Graham and how they operate in the Seahawks’ offense. Blocking is entirely new to him.

He needs to show he can catch, but Swoopes said his background as a quarterback should help him as a route runner.

“Just reading coverages,” he said. “Most people don’t get that that’s a huge part of playing quarterback and running routes. Just recognizing zone or man and things like that. So I think that helps a lot.”

At one point last year, the Seahawks had 24 undrafted free agents on their roster. They have a history of giving guys with unique athletic traits opportunities. Swoopes is a long shot, but this summer he will try to become their latest success story.

 

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RENTON, Wash. — By the time Tom Brady and the New England Patriots completed their epic Super Bowl comeback in February, Russell Wilson’s offseason training program was well underway.

The Seattle Seahawks’ playoff run had ended three weeks earlier at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round. But like everyone else in the football world, Wilson watched from afar as Brady piled up 466 yards en route to his fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Wilson saw how Brady appeared to be moving better at age 39 than he did at 25. He took notice of how Brady maneuvered in the pocket. He took notice of how Brady’s arm looked as strong as ever. He listened this offseason when Brady said he’d like to play at least into his mid-40s before he even considers retirement.

“Uh, yeah, I pay attention,” Wilson told ESPN.com. “I’ll say that. I pay attention. Something that I’ve observed and seen. He’s a great example of longevity. He’s a great example of being able to be mobile — a different mobility, but you know what I mean. Being able to seem like he’s just getting better. That’s what I always want to be. That’s my focus.”

The highlight of the Seahawks’ 2016 season was a Week 10 victory over Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Seattle was the only team to beat New England in the 15 games (postseason included) that Brady started. Wilson threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns on that November night. But overall, his 2016 season was marred by three different injuries.

Wilson still has not missed a game in his five-year NFL career, but last season poked at his invincibility. He rushed for a career-low 259 yards, and the Seahawks had to shrink their playbook because Wilson was mostly a nonfactor with his legs. A year after finishing with the most efficient offense in the NFL, Seattle fell all the way down to No. 17.

Before last season even ended, Wilson decided that he needed to make some changes to reduce the possibility of a repeat performance.

“I want to play 25 years,” he repeated three times during the course of a 15-minute conversation, ignoring the fact that no QB has ever played that long.

Wilson sought out a full-time trainer who could help him around the clock, and he quickly decided on 25-year-old Decker Davis, whom he had known previously. When Wilson vacationed in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and traveled to China on a Nike trip this summer, Davis was there by his side like another member of the family.

Wilson spends most of his offseason in Los Angeles, so Davis found a place to stay that was five minutes away. When Wilson moved to Seattle for the start of the offseason program, Davis did the same.

“He travels with me everywhere I go,” Wilson said. “We go everywhere together. He’s super detailed. We can go in any situation, any scenario, any location and find something to do. We’re constantly doing that.”

Davis offered his assessment.

“This is my sole focus — all with him and also with Ciara [Wilson’s wife]. She had her baby, so we’ll be doing some circuit type of training. So I’m full time for them, for the family.”

In February, when Davis officially began his new role, the mornings with Wilson began with a swim or a boxing workout at Freddie Roach’s gym, Wild Card, in Hollywood.

“It wasn’t the first time I boxed, but it was the first time I got to go work out with Freddie Roach,” Wilson said. “One thing I really wanted to work on was my feet. And Freddie and I worked on my feet a bunch. Just working on my balance and quickness and just continuing to build my game.

“The idea of being able to do anything and everything at any moment; and so you have to be prepared for that. Also, great boxers have great defense too, meaning being able to move and get away and all that. So that was something that was really important to me too. And it’s a great conditioning workout — one of the hardest workouts you could ever do.”
Wilson spent part of his offseason participating in boxing workouts at Freddie Roach’s gym, Wild Card, in Hollywood, California. Courtesy Daniel Mogg/West2East
On Mondays and Thursdays, Wilson would work on his upper body, but he stayed away from straight-arm exercises (such as the bench press) to reduce the risk of injury. On Tuesdays and Fridays, he would work his lower body. Wednesday was a light day.

Davis previously worked under Wilson’s former trainer, Ryan Flaherty. The concept of his offseason workouts is to combine heavier lifts with plyometrics (such as a box jump). To have a long career, Wilson realizes flexibility needs to be just as much of a focus as strength training.

In addition to hiring Davis, Wilson completely revamped his diet. And Wilson added another full-timer to his personal staff: physical therapist Janet Jin. During minicamps in June, Jin would be at the team’s practice facility working on Wilson throughout the day, in between his team obligations.

She would warm him up before the Seahawks’ first practice. When Wilson broke for lunch, he would have another session with Jin. And one more later in the day at home.

“The way I describe it is muscles firing on all cylinders,” Jin said. “I don’t want him going into practice where his muscles are only firing on only four cylinders when it should be eight. So I work on mobility, stability and activation, making sure that he’s ready to go for practice.”

Wilson said he has noticed a difference specifically with how his throwing arm and shoulder feel after working with Jin. And Pete Carroll noted during the spring that Wilson’s arm looks stronger than ever.

But how does the head coach feel about Wilson having his own personal team in addition to what the team provides?

“To be organized with help like that — a number of our guys have people they go back to work with because we can’t get near them for the six weeks, and there’s the time frame between the end of the season and middle of April,” Carroll said. “These guys have to go somewhere so they develop great relationships, hopefully. Russell’s got a really good group behind him, and we’ve met together with his folks just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and it’s worked out fine.”

Jin said her work with Wilson at the practice facility was cleared by the Seahawks.

“They know that I’m doing this. I don’t want to interfere with what’s going on with the team and the other members of the Seahawks,” Jin said. “So I stay out of the way. We go to a separate room to make sure that there isn’t a distraction. The Seahawks know about it, and I communicate with them and they’re fine with it. But ultimately, what they understand is the reason that we’re doing this is because it’s not only benefiting Russell, it benefits the whole team. He wants to help this team win a Super Bowl.”

When Wilson got injured last year, he flew in a physical therapist and underwent treatments in the middle of the night at his home. This year, he’ll have Jin. She moved to Seattle from Los Angeles, and she will be on call 24/7 during the season to help the quarterback.

On the field, Wilson reconnected with his former offensive coordinator from NC State, Dana Bible. They would watch film at USC in between workouts, going through Wilson’s tape from his first five years in the league, in addition to watching other quarterbacks.

The key for Wilson will be getting back to the player he was the second half of the 2015 campaign. During an eight-game stretch then, he completed 67.5 percent of his passes, averaged 8.62 yards per attempt and threw 25 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Wilson was lethal from the pocket. But one of the reasons for his success was that his protection held up.

Last season, Wilson was pressured on 36.5 percent of his dropbacks, the highest mark in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The team signed Luke Joeckel in free agency and drafted Ethan Pocic in the second round. The coaches are optimistic that young players such as George Fant, Germain Ifedi and Mark Glowinski will improve. But the offensive line remains the biggest question mark on the team.

From a weapons standpoint, this might be the best group to play with Wilson. His targets will include Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Lockett and C.J. Prosise. Jermaine Kearse will look to bounce back from a down 2016 campaign, and Paul Richardson will try to build on the momentum he created at the end of last season.

Wilson and his teammates worked together at USC during the spring. There is a sense around the team that this could be the Seahawks’ last chance at a Super Bowl while their current core group is still together. There’s a feeling that the past three years have been filled with too many missed opportunities.
Wilson hired trainer Decker Davis to work with him full time, starting in February. Courtesy Daniel Mogg/West2East
But it’s fair to wonder why this was the year Wilson made so many changes. He has been in the league since 2012 and always has had a plan for offseason training. Going into his sixth season, why did he feel he had to change things up and hire a full-time trainer and a full-time physical therapist? Why now did he decide to completely change the way he eats and bring in his college coach for help?

The answer goes back to last season’s injuries.

“He gained some weight because he wasn’t able to run,” Davis said. “He wasn’t able to have that cardio and run as much as he did the previous years. And still, he didn’t miss a game after suffering those injuries. Just seeing him gain that weight and slow down, that’s not Russ. I think once he felt that weight, once he felt himself slowing down, that was it for him. He was like, ‘I’m hiring a full-time trainer. I don’t want to get like this. I don’t want to feel like this ever again.’

“I can’t say that’s not going to happen, because you never know what’s going to happen in an NFL game. But my goal is to never have him feel that way ever again. So his injuries were a big part of it.”
On Sunday, the Seahawks will open training camp with legitimate Super Bowl expectations. They’ve made it to at least the divisional round in all five of Wilson’s NFL seasons, but they are hungry for a second Lombardi trophy.

The Seahawks are banking on an improved offensive line and a more efficient run game. With safety Earl Thomas returning, it should go a long way in fixing the issues on defense.

But the reality is that a healthy Wilson is the biggest key to Seattle going on a run.

“I want to play 25 years and be in every game,” Wilson said. “So, to me, how do you get there? That’s the simple question I ask myself.

“I feel great. I feel the best I’ve ever felt. I feel like I’m 18 all over again. So that’s something that I’ve been really invested in is having a great team of people that can help me be successful on the field and ultimately help the Seahawks win.”