Postcard from camp: Seahawks
Despite calling the competition open, Matt Flynn will be the Seahawks' starting QB
It'll be hard to play against the defense, which will try to increase its pressure
The WRs will have opportunties to make plays, but they're a big question mark
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Jim Trotter had to say about Seahawks camp in Renton, Wa., which he visited on Aug. 9. Read all of our postcards here.
In Renton, Wa., at the Seahawks' year-round training facility. The first thing that stands out about this camp is its location, just off the banks of beautiful Lake Washington. The second is the music that blares from the public address system during warmups. Where else in the NFL are you going to hear The Police, Guns 'n Roses, Michael Jackson, James Brown, AC/DC and so on filling the air as players go through individual drills? The last thing is the energy and tempo of practice. Coach Pete Carroll likes to do everything fast, and his players respond accordingly.
1. The defense is going to be fun to watch. It's not only big and strong, but fast and athletic. The unit was working on its blitz drill the day I was there, and more times than not the period resembled a jail break. Defenders consistently came free in the offensive backfield, forcing quarterbacks to look for safety valves instead of a receiver. Ideally, Seattle wants to generate pressure with its front four, and the addition of first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin should help it do that. He's long and incredibly quick, which will be even more noticeable at home, where the crowd noise will give him an advantage over offensive tackles at the snap of the ball. Irvin still needs to develop a second rush move to maximize his potential, but that will come in time. For now his quickness and length, combined with the Seahawks' other talent up front, will give offensive lines headaches.
2. As much as Carroll talks about competition, the starting QB job is Matt Flynn's to lose. Tarvaris Jackson won the respect of the players and coaches last season by playing hurt and helping them to a 7-9 mark, but the organization wouldn't have signed Flynn if it felt Jackson was the long-term answer. Now the Seahawks are holding their collective breath that the acquisition turns out as well as the last time they handed the offense to a former Green Bay quarterback. All Matt Hasselbeck did was set a franchise record for wins and lead Seattle to its only Super Bowl appearance. The feeling within the organization is that the team is primed for success after 7-9 finishes in each of Carroll's first two seasons. The defense is stout, the running game is strong and the special teams are solid. All that's missing is consistent production at the QB position. Flynn has shown he can do it in flashes (see his 731 yards passing in two career starts). Now we'll find out if he can do it for a season.
3. There's a lot of buzz surrounding running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick from Utah State who is the front-runner to back up Marshawn Lynch. Unlike a year ago when the Nos. 2 and 3 backs were smaller and more change-of-pace types, Turbin has the size (5-foot-10, 222 pounds) and power to carry the load should Lynch go down or need a long breather. Turbin, who ran for more than 1,500 yards in his final season at Utah State, has the girth to run between the tackles and keep the chains moving, which is critical in this offense.
The wideout corps. The unit was less than impressive on my visit. It says something when Terrell Owens, in only his second day with the team, made more plays than anyone. Braylon Edwards, another former star looking to jump-start his career, made a couple of nice plays but also dropped a ball or two. Sidney Rice, the projected No. 1 who is coming off a second shoulder surgery, was practicing for the first time since November and admitted he needed to shake off some rust; and Golden Tate, whom the coaches expect to have a breakout year, was not a focal point during the 7-on-7 and team periods. We know the Seahawks are going to run the ball, so the wideouts should see plenty of one-on-one coverage. They need to win those matchups.
See the aforementioned wideouts. Carroll says he definitely could see Owens and Edwards making the team. Seems a stretch to me. One, perhaps. But both? I don't see it, if only because neither plays special teams. My guess is that Edwards is the front-runner for a spot. He's younger, seemingly better at beating press coverage, and at this point in his career is a more dangerous downfield threat.
The Seahawks open with a divisional game at Arizona. If they prevail in that one, it could give them momentum going into home games against the Cowboys and Packers. Two stretches to watch: Weeks 4-8, when they'll play on the road four times in five weeks -- with the lone home game against the Patriots -- and Weeks 14-17, when they'll host divisional foes Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis.