Tuesday, May 14, 2013 @ 11:36am
By Brady Henderson
Michael Robinson has been an adept lead blocker, a special teams captain and a vocal presence for the Seahawks, but his future in Seattle became less certain when the team drafted an alternative in Spencer Ware.
That was among the subjects discussed when Mike Sando of ESPN.com and Eric Williams of The News Tribune joined "Brock and Danny" on Monday to wrap up the Seahawks' rookie minicamp.
Robinson has done it all as Seattle's Swiss Army Knife since the team signed him at the end of the 2010 training camp. But he's 30 years old, has a salary that is scheduled to count $2.5 million against the 2013 cap and plays a position that requires him to run headlong into opposing linebackers, naturally raising questions about longevity.
NFL teams are constantly looking for younger and cheaper alternatives, and that's what Ware represents. As a sixth-round pick, Ware's salary is slotted at roughly $400,000 for his rookie season, significantly less than Robinson's. He was primarily a halfback at LSU, but the Seahawks' plan is to convert him to fullback and occasionally take advantage of his ability to carry the ball.
Coach Pete Carroll conceded that it will be tough to keep two fullbacks on the roster, especially if Ware doesn't demonstrate an ability to play special teams.
|Height/Weight:||5-10, 229 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 6, 194 overall|
|Notable:||Played OF on LSU's baseball team for part of the 2011 season.|
O'Neil noted that Seattle has an open role in the backfield after releasing Leon Washington, who saw some time as the third-down back last season. While Christine Michael showed good hands during Seattle's rookie minicamp, Carroll has said the second-round pick needs to improve his pass-blocking, an deficiency that could preclude him from a third-down role. That would leave Ware and Robert Turbin as the most viable options.
The Seahawks are also experimenting with defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril at outside linebacker, and Sando wondered whether the flexibility in their front seven would allow them to keep one fewer player at either of those positions. That would create an extra roster spot, potentially allowing Seattle to keep two fullbacks who have different body types and perhaps could be used in different ways.
If not, it would create a difficult decision assuming Ware shows he's worth keeping around.
"Would you be willing as a coaching staff to move on from a guy who really is important to the team?" Sando said of Robinson. "I think he's a good player and a good leader, has a good rapport with (Marshawn) Lynch. It's just a really interesting pick that way. I'm not sure if he's (Ware) exclusive to Robinson, but it kind of feels like he is."
Williams doesn't disagree with that either-or premise, but he doesn't see Robinson being the odd-man-out.
"What he does with his ability to read the opening of the holes as a fullback, his ability to play special teams and his ability as one of the vocal leaders on this team, I don't think that can really be replaced by a sixth-round draft pick who hasn't played fullback since his freshman year," Williams said." So I think we really have to kind of pump our brakes on Spencer Ware being able to replace Michael Robinson at this point."
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 1:25pm
Based on the Seahawks' depth at wide receiver, Chris Harper is facing what seems like an uphill battle to see significant playing time as a rookie.
But Harper, the fourth-round pick out of Kansas State, impressed coach Pete Carroll enough during the team's rookie minicamp over the weekend to earn some looks with the starters once Seattle's rookies and veterans are on the field together.
"He'll get reps with those guys early on so we can see what he can do, and he'll have no problem doing that," Carroll told reporters. "We'll do the same thing with [tight end Luke Willson] – those guys will get tossed right in with the first group."
In the video below, Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil discuss the roles Seattle has in mind for Harper and Willson.
You can listen to Monday's show here.
Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 7:56am
By Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned and three things we're still trying to figure out after the Seahawks' three-day rookie minicamp:
THREE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. Tight end Luke Willson is not some long-shot project.
While plenty of people arched an eyebrow over the fact Seattle used a fifth-round pick on a backup tight end from Rice who caught nine passes as a senior, Willson was the one rookie who most strikingly stood out over the three-day minicamp. He was slowed by a high-ankle sprain his final collegiate season and also a lower-back issue, but he's healthy now and he made the play of the day Friday when he ran caught the ball on a crossing pattern, and then not only beat the defensive back but turned the corner and ran away for a touchdown.
Willson is the fastest tight end on this team and someone Seattle very well may use to stretch the field this season.
2. Tony McDaniel might be this year's version of Barrett Ruud in Seattle.
You remember Ruud, right? Veteran middle linebacker who signed with Seattle last offseason as a veteran failsafe in case the team didn't draft a middle linebacker capable of starting right away. Well, Seattle wound up with Bobby Wagner, who showed early in training camp he was more than ready to start, leading to Ruud's trade to New Orleans for a seventh-round pick.
A year later, Seattle is looking to see if another rookie can step into a starting role, only this time it's defensive tackle Jesse Williams, the fifth-round pick out of Alabama. So while the presumption was that McDaniel was signed this offseason to step in to the vacancy at defensive tackle, the reality is that he might be the veteran insurance if a rookie – in this case Williams – isn't ready.
3. Chris Harper has that gift of grab.
He only spent two and a half seasons at receiver at Kansas State, playing quarterback before that, but Seattle's fourth-round pick sure is smooth when it comes to catching the football. He's a big receiver, not in terms of height so much as his body type. Harper is 6 feet 1, which is 3 inches shorter than Sidney Rice, but Harper outweighs Rice by almost 30 pounds.
"It gives me an advantage as far as the point of attack when the ball's in the air," Harper said of his size. "When they want to get in pushing matches, I usually come out on top of those."
After three days of the minicamp, coach Pete Carroll was already imagining how Harper would contribute to the team's group of receivers.
"There's a case of a guy that early on, he'll go right in with the first group," Carroll said. "He'll get reps with those guys early on so we can see what he can do."
THREE THINGS WE'RE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT
1. Why Tharold Simon spent so much time in the water line?
He's a 6-foot-2 cornerback who's tough and feisty, which is exactly the flavors that Seattle prefers in its cornerbacks. He may not, however, be in the greatest shape, according to Carroll.
"I don't know what kind of condition he's in yet," Carroll said of Simon, "but we'll get him stronger and get him right. By the time we get through camp, I would think he can compete with our guys. He looked kind of in the fashion of guys that we like."
2. What exactly Seattle has in mind for Spencer Ware.
The Seahawks drafted him out of LSU with the intention of shifting him to fullback, and that's where he's going to be competing for a roster spot, according to Carroll. So why was Ware still getting turns carrying the ball during this weekend's minicamp? It certainly points to the possibility that he'll be more than just a blocker in Seattle's offense. Could he be someone Seattle looks at as a third-down back, who is involved in the passing game whether it's in terms of protection or receptions? It's something to keep an eye on.
3. Can offensive tackle Michael Bowie play his way onto this roster?
He was the last of Seattle's 11 selections in this year's draft and one of three offensive linemen Seattle drafted in the seventh round. As an offensive tackle, though, he plays a position where Seattle needs depth as Frank Omiyale – the team's third tackle last year – has not been re-signed.
Bowie played left tackle only during his first weekend, and at 330 pounds he clearly stands out as one of the more physically imposing rookies. He has only one season of major-college experience having spent two years at junior college, transferring to Oklahoma State where he played in 2011 only to be dismissed from the team the following August, which is a primary reason he was not picked before the seventh round.
His first weekend with the team showed he'll have a shot at making it, though.
Sunday, May 12, 2013 @ 1:40pm
By Danny O'Neil
"They were in better shape than the other guys," coach Pete Carroll said of his defensive linemen. "They were not taxed by the workload. You could see some of the guys were really tightening up and all of that. They did not have a problem."
|Height/Weight:||6-1, 303 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 3, 87 overall|
|Notable:||Can play both nose tackle and 3-technique. Totaled 64 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a senior.|
Hill, a third-round pick out of Penn State, is playing nose tackle, while Williams, the fifth-round pick out of Alabama, is the next spot over at what is referred to as the three-technique in Seattle's scheme.
"(We'll) see if he can play first and second down for us," Carroll said of Williams.
That's the starting point for what Seattle hopes will be a broader, more versatile role.
"We'll probably wind up keeping Jesse at three-technique for a while," Carroll said. "Then we'll move him to five-technique to see how he does there and then we'll bring him back to nose tackle in time. He has played all these spots."
This is Carroll's blueprint for integrating rookies into his team: Find a specific role, maybe even a niche, and broaden from there.
Now there are exceptions to that format. Two of Seattle's rookies will be worked into the first-team rotation over the offseason workouts: receiver Chris Harper and tight end Luke Willson. Seattle's defensive linemen, however, have more narrow roles.
|Height/Weight:||6-4, 329 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 5, 137 overall|
|Notable:||A native of Australia and a starter on Alabama's BCS Title teams in 2011 and '12.|
"Jordan is an accomplished nose tackle," Carroll said. "He knows how to play the position. He has been coached very well. He's got good, long arms for his size and he uses his hands really well. He got in the backfield, penetrated a lot. He looks like he could be a really good addition to complement what Mebane does in there."
Williams' spot on the depth chart will remain to be seen as he's playing the position where Alan Branch started the past two years. The Seahawks opted not to re-sign him, signing Tony McDaniel from Miami to a one-year contract as Branch left for Buffalo.
And while it's only three days of minicamp, Williams showed he might even start at that spot. He's a powerful man with a surprisingly lean lower body, and though he came in weighing 329 pounds, he was able to keep up with every drill.
That's not a shock since he played for Nick Saban at Alabama, where the practices are at a brisk pace and the format of the defense is similar to the concepts Seattle uses.
"A lot of the plays are really similar to the schemes we ran at Alabama," Williams said.
One big difference, though, is the music that plays during Carroll's practice.
"I'm not sure coach Saban would like that," Williams said.
But while the soundtrack has changed, the first weekend of work showed that Seattle's pair of rookie tackles are in shape to add to Seattle's defensive line sooner rather than later.
Saturday, May 11, 2013 @ 4:33pm
By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – Tharold Simon's second day at work ended with the opposing wide receiver face down out-of-bounds.
It was the final play of Saturday's practice, evidence the 6-foot-2 Simon didn't just look like someone who fit the Seahawks' blueprint for an outside cornerback, but he played like one, too.
"He has real good size," said Chris Harper, the wide receiver Seattle drafted out of Kansas State. "He's a real physical player ... He plays big."
Now take a moment to consider where that's coming from. Harper is a wide receiver who weighs 230 pounds. He was the player Seattle chose a round before picking Simon, and Harper isn't anyone to be taken lightly.
And while Simon weighed in at 202 during this week's rookie minicamp, his play proved the accuracy of the old adage about the size of the dog in the fight not being nearly so important as the size of the fight in the dog.
"He's strong," Harper said of Simon. "He got me one time today. He's long. He's real long. You usually don't see corners that are 6-2."
Not unless you're in Seattle, that is, where the 6-3 Richard Sherman starts at left cornerback, and he's bookended by the 6-4 Brandon Browner on the right.
And when Seattle drafted Simon last month, it was a license to dream that he would be a sequel to the Seahawks' success when it came to finding lanky individuals capable of physically harassing opposing wide receivers right up to the brink of a criminal complaint.
|Height/Weight:||6-3, 202 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 5, 138 overall|
|College stats:||Made 15 starts and played in 34 games over three seasons, finishing career with 7 interceptions, 22 pass breakups, 99 tackles and 1 forced fumble.|
Exhibit A: Sherman.
Exhibit B: Browner.
Exhibit C: Seattle chose Jeremy Lane in the sixth round last year, and he appears to be a special-teams mainstay at the very least, while the worst thing you can say about Walter Thurmond (fourth-round pick, 2010) and Byron Maxwell (sixth-round pick, 2011) is that they just haven't been able to stay healthy.
That's the lineage that preceded Simon, who entered the draft after his junior season at LSU, and probably one of the reasons his selection in the fifth round was greeted with a sense of expectation.
This week's rookie minicamp is no place to make any definitive judgments on his trajectory for this season or in the future. This is nothing more than three days of no-pad practices including only the team's 11 draft picks, the 18 undrafted rookies who were signed as free agents and another 30-something players looking for a spot.
Of course, Simon has a history that must be mentioned at this point. He was arrested the day the draft began, an incident you've undoubtedly heard about. It was a dispute that started over where his car was parked outside his grandmother's house and escalated to the point an off-duty officer arrested him.
But this was the weekend when Simon stopped being a punchline. While his foot appeared to be bothering him by the end of Friday's practice, Saturday's workout gave a glimpse of just how feisty this cornerback is in the very best way when it comes to a football field.
There was the moment Harper mentioned when Simon jammed a receiver that outweighed him by 30 pounds, and on the final play of Saturday's workout, he knocked Gerald Kemp off his feet and onto his stomach at the edge of the playing field.
Kemp got back to his feet and jogged onto the field right as an air-horn sounded in three blasts, denoting the end of Saturday's practice, but only the beginning of Simon's tenure with the Seahawks.
Friday, May 10, 2013 @ 4:49pm
RENTON – The Seahawks' backfield will be even better armed this season.
That was evident from the start of Seattle's rookie minicamp, which began on a sunny afternoon so hot it could have been a metaphor for this team's expectations.
Running back Christine Michael – the team's second-round pick – took the field, the short sleeves of his jersey rolled up to his shoulders to reveal a pair of biceps as muscular as the rest of his physique.
"He's very quick," coach Pete Carroll said after Friday's practice. "Very quick and sudden. Caught the ball well, too, and didn't have any trouble picking things up, understanding the system. For the first day, he had a good start."
Coach Pete Carroll liked what he saw from running back Christine Michael during the first day of Seattle's rookie minicamp. (AP)
Michael was the first of 11 players Seattle drafted last month, and Friday was the first time for them to take the field. While they weren't wearing pads they did wear helmets as they tried to grab hold of the opportunity now in front of them.
"Excited to be here," Michael said. "Just excited, getting the plays down and competing with the other guys. It was fun, just bringing emotion to the game and competing."
Michael was a surprise pick. No one foresaw the Seahawks choosing a running back so highly not only because Marshawn Lynch is coming off a career year, but Seattle is pleased with backup Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick a year ago. Not only did Seattle draft Michael, but it chose Spencer Ware in the sixth round of LSU. Ware will compete for a spot at fullback, but he carried the ball some, too.
That's all part of the plan for building upon what was one of the league's best running games as Seattle ran the ball more often than any team in the league in 2012.
"He's a really aggressive, tough runner," Carroll said of Ware. "We love that about him so we're trying to transfer that nature in the fullback spot. He came in at 218, which is a little light at that spot, which I don't mind at all. At this point, he's coming in to compete and battle and wants to get in good shape, and he is. He's an exciting football player."
Right now, it's all excitement and anticipation. Seattle's rookie class is here through Sunday, and in the first day tight end Luke Willson looked as fast as the Seahawks could have expected and probably caught as many passes during that two-hour practice as he did his entire senior season at Rice when he had nine receptions.
Korey Toomer is back. A linebacker chosen in the fifth round in 2012 out of Idaho, Toomer didn't play as a rookie, eventually undergoing shoulder surgery, but he could be a factor this season. Tight end Darren Fells – who was signed earlier this offseason and released earlier this week – is also at minicamp as a tryout.
But Friday was like new employee orientation for players like Michael, who took his first steps as a Seahawk.
"My main focus was to learn the plays," Michael said. "Like I said, get the playbook down, get the install down."
He also imagined to impress along the way, especially with his ability to catch the ball, and while we really won't get an idea of how physical a runner Michael is until training camp when the pads are put on, Friday's workout offered a first impression of his physique, which was certainly impressive.
At least it was until practice ended and Michael unrolled the sleeves covering up those biceps.
"Practice was over with so I just let them down," Michael said.
Friday, May 10, 2013 @ 2:48pm
Tight end Luke Willson was the first player coach Pete Carroll mentioned when asked who stood out on the first day of the Seahawks' rookie minicamp.
"I thought Luke Willson did some cool stuff today," Carroll told "Afternoons with the Go 2 Guy" on Friday. "He looked very fast. He ran a great time [in the 40-yard dash]; it was 4.50, 4.51 or something like that. It looked like it today on the practice field. He got loose up the sidelines and got to turn it on a couple times and caught the ball really well. So that's an exciting first day for that guy."
Willson had all of nine catches for 126 yards last season as Rice's backup tight end. Yet, according to general manager John Schneider, Willson was a player the Seahawks felt they had to have when they drafted him in the fifth round last month.
"We really, really would have been disappointed if we wouldn't have been able to acquire him," Schneider told "Brock and Danny" Friday, comparing Willson to Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson from last year's draft in that regard.
Why were the Seahawks so high on Willson? Brock Huard offers his take in the video below.
You can listen to Friday's show here.
Friday, May 10, 2013 @ 10:43am
Seahawks general manager John Schneider has likened the NFL Draft to Christmas, which makes this weekend's rookie minicamp the first chance he'll get to see all his new toys in action.
Seattle's 11 draft picks and nine undrafted free agents will practice at the team's Renton headquarters Friday through Sunday. The group will also include 38 players on a tryout basis, Schneider said, as well as quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who was signed last month.
Schneider joined "Brock and Danny" before Friday's practice and shared a few notes about the weekend:
"His movement skills at the combine were good. His movement skills at his individual workout were excellent," Schneider said. "It will be really interesting to see – his background, obviously Harding and the level of competition is one of the reasons he was drafted where he was drafted. So I'm very interested to see him."
Schneider also mentioned Luke Willson, the tight end Seattle drafted in the fifth round. Willson was a backup at Rice who caught nine passes in 11 games last season, but Schneider likened him to Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson from the year before as a player Seattle was determined to draft.
"Luke was actually a guy that was in that same mold," Schneider said. "We really, really would have been disappointed if we wouldn't have been able to acquire him, that down-the-field threat."
Fells back in the fold. Darren Fells is among the tryouts at Seattle's minicamp. Fells, the former professional basketball player who's trying to make it in the NFL as a tight end, was waived by Seattle on Wednesday. Schneider said that move was about creating a spot on the roster, which is currently at the 90-man limit.
"He's still gonna get a chance to compete this weekend and see how he does. This will be his second time through the install, so hopefully that helps him," Schneider said. "He's got great hands, he's a big target. You just want to see how he develops this weekend."
The 6-foot-7 Fells last played football in high school.
- May 17, 2013 - Hour: 1Brock and Danny have a Mariners conversation and look at whether they are better than they were a ye
- May 17, 2013 - Hour: 2Ryan Divish, of the Tacoma News Tribune, joins the show to continue the Mariners conversation. He ta
- May 17, 2013 - Hour: 3Brock and Danny kick start their Seahawks conversation by looking at Pete Carroll, the 'Hawks depth
- May 16, 2013 - Hour: 1Brock and Danny start by breaking down yesterdays decision. They discuss what it means,the next step
- May 16, 2013 - Hour: 2ESPN MLB Insider, Jayson Stark, calls in to talk the Mariners offense, whether they are buyers or se
- May 16, 2013 - Hour: 3Mike Sando of ESPN.com joins "Brock and Danny" for a position-by-position comparison of NFC West r