Training Camp Postcards: Seahawks
Posted: Tuesday August 7, 2007 6:56PM; Updated: Tuesday August 7, 2007 7:13PM
At Seahawks headquarters in Kirkland, Wash., where the team has moved their camp this year from an extremely rural site in Cheney at Eastern Washington University. Players are thrilled to be closer to home. One difference, however, between Cheney and Kirkland: the weather. I could always count on a 93-degree, sun-burned afternoon at EWU. This morning, it was cloudy, 61 degrees, occasionally misty and in general, an absolutely typical Seattle day.
Five Things I Think I Think
1. I think this team might be significantly better on defense. The addition of Deon Grant in place of Ken Hamlin at safety is a big move, as is Patrick Kerney's insertion into the starting lineup, after signing here in free agency. Both guys look fast and ready to make a big impact at the two-hour morning practice.
2. I think Mike Holmgren looks enthused to be back for his ninth season with the Seahawks. And you always wonder about Holmgren's enthusiasm to coach, since he nearly walked away a couple of years ago. I like how he legitimately takes stock each offseason of coaching, and life, in general. He looks good and talking to him this afternoon, he's very excited about this team.
3. I think one of the best things that happened to this team were the subtractions of Hamlin and wide receiver Darrell Jackson. Hamlin's 2005 skull fracture seemed to zap some of his aggressiveness, because he didn't look like the same player -- prior to the infamous bar fight in 2005. Jackson was a very good receiver; but in the last couple of years, he was a lousy locker room guy. Seattle's much better off with Deion Branch as its go-to guy.
4. I think it's very hard to imagine any of the three other teams in the NFC West (each one having improved itself this offseason) being better than Seattle is right now. I will definitely stick with my June choice of Seattle to win the division. Of course, you can never tell what will happen if injuries hit, as they did with Seattle last season.
5. I think Matt Hasselbeck's surgically repaired left shoulder feels about 90 percent healed; that's the estimate he gave me today. "It's not going to have any impact on how I throw or how I play," he said.
Insider Fantasy Tip
Even though Shaun Alexander looks fit and totally recovered from last year's broken bone in his foot, the injury last year served notice that it's always smart to have a capable backup to the Seahawks' star running back. Seattle seems to be falling love with a fullback/halfback combo guy named Leonard Weaver, a 6-foot, 242-pound backup who is getting more and more carries and impressing the coaches with those carries in training camp. This is just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Weaver take five or six of the short-yardage touchdowns away from Alexander this year. He obviously can block at that size, and he's a lot faster than his dimensions would indicate.
Did You Know?
John Olerud was at practice this morning. He's a big Seahawks fan. Lives close to Hasselbeck. He wore a Seahawks sweatsuit and talked, without mercy, about the pain he inflicted on me in the 2004 ALCS when he beat Pedro Martinez in Game 2 with a homer down the line at Yankee Stadium. "But c'mon," Olerud said, "you have to be happy about how that series turned out. Happier than me." Yes, I said, I was.
On The Menu
I didn't eat with the Seahawks. And I don't think you'd be very interested in the review of the triple grande hazelnut latte and lemon scone from Starbucks in Kirkland early this morning. So you'll just have to imagine how good the food Hasselbeck and friends enjoyed today at camp.
A year ago, the Seahawks were bitterly adjusting to life without the best guard in football, Steve Hutchinson, who signed that prescient $7 million-a-year contract offer sheet with Minnesota that Seattle didn't' match. They struggled at the position all year, discovering they couldn't rely on Pork Chop Womack to stay healthy or to play competently for a whole season.
Seahawks prediction of the year: Holmgren has found his long-term replacement for Hutchison. His name is Rob Sims, a fourth-round pick from Ohio State last year, and the man Seattle should have stuck at left guard all along. In live pass-rush drills this morning, the 6-3, 312-pound Sims was technically sound and held his own against fast and beefy defensive tackles like Marcus Tubbs and Rocky Bernard.
Holmgren feels good about Sims forming a solid bond with all-world left tackle Walter Jones. After watching Sims drive block and pass-protect this morning, I'd feel pretty good if I were Holmgren, too.