Training camp status report: Offense

Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham after practice (Seahawks via Twitter)The Seahawks open the preseason against the Denver Broncos on Friday in Seattle. Here is our breakdown of the
offense, what we will be watching in the first game and our updated roster projections:

Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson, R.J. Archer

Wilson’s No. 1 goal in camp has been to develop and refine his rapport with Jimmy Graham.

“Chemistry has been more than I could ever imagine,” Graham said after the scrimmage Aug. 8. “For example, today in the scrimmage we had one we didn’t connect on; so, after practice, we did it about four or five times. And that is how we’re going to do it each and every day. Anything we’re iffy about we’re going to get it after practice. The season is right here; and, when those big moments come, I want that connection to be right.”

Earlier this week, Pete Carroll said, “They’re not there yet. It’s just going to take time. The intricacies of the things that they’re trying to do together go way deep, so it’s going to take them a lot of time. … Both of them are really determined to get this thing figured out. They’re doing great, but there’s more room for them to make up.”

By all reports, Archer has been off target in most practices — putting to rest any thoughts that he might challenge Jackson, who still puts up a great deep ball.

The Hawks have their eyes open for other QBs — they reportedly worked out Jake Waters, who was Tyler Lockett’s QB at Kansas State.

What to watch: Wilson to Graham, of course.

Projected (2): Wilson, Jackson

Veterans: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Derrick Coleman (FB), Will Tukuafu (FB)
Rookies: Thomas Rawls, Rod Smith, Brandon Cottom (FB)

Turbin apparently has come back from double hip surgery better than ever and remains the No. 2 back behind Lynch. So much for Michael taking advantage of the chance to unseat him.

Michael clearly has great speed and raw ability, but the coaches still don’t seem convinced they can trust him. They will be watching to see how undrafted rookies Thomas Rawls and Rod Smith fare in the passing game. It sure seems like Michael is in a fight to hold onto the third spot more than he is challenging Turbin for the second spot.

Carroll praised Michael early in camp, saying, “Christine is having a terrific start to this camp. He’s returned in incredible shape, he’s just in fantastic strength and quickness and stuff. Preseason for him, he’s going to get a lot of work; we anticipate that he should be one of the lead carriers (in the NFL) during preseason, so that he can get comfortable and demonstrate his consistency and all that. He’s done everything that we’ve needed him to up to this point, so I have really no reason to think otherwise; he’s having a great camp.”

As for the rookies, OC Darrell Bevell said, “We want to see how well they have picked up the offense, where they are with that. Protection will end up being the key as well. Route running ends up being the key.

“Rawls has done a really nice job. He has really quick feet. You can see him making cuts in the hole. You can see him making cuts within the holes at the second level. Smith is a bigger guy (6 feet 3) so he needs to be a longer strider. Get him out in space and see how well he runs. Seems like he runs behind his pads really well. We’re not tackling (in practice), so we want to be able to see when he lowers his pads … how many tackles is he going to come out the other side of? So there’s a lot of things to learn from these next couple of games for them.”

The Hawks also have a good battle going on at fullback and could end up keeping five running backs if the 280-pound Tukuafu’s versatility makes him tough to let go.

What to watch: How do Rawls and Smith stack up against Michael?

Projected (5):
Lynch, Turbin, Michael, Coleman, Tukuafu

Veterans: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Kevin Norwood, Ricardo Lockette, Chris Matthews, Kevin Smith, B.J. Daniels
Rookies: Tyler Lockett, Deshon Foxx, Kasen Williams

Lockett has been a star throughout camp, and Carroll has hinted he will see a lot of time at receiver this season. He and Baldwin are the only locks at this position, although Kearse apparently is having a great camp and making it hard for the less experienced guys to take his job.

All eyes have been on Matthews, who was a postseason star last season. But he has not yet shown the consistency the coaches would like to see.

“I just want to see him show up every day,” Bevell said. “And that’s what I’ve talked to him about every day. We don’t want to have a situation where we come out here and he has one good day and then he disappears for two or three. … He’s got size; he’s got great catch radius, all that. But we want to make sure he’s showing up each and every day.”

Williams has stepped up this week and is doing his best to push Matthews, Norwood and Lockette for a spot. Said Bevell: “He’s shown that he has the ability to play here.”

What to watch: Next to Graham, Lockett is the featured attraction this summer.

Projected (6): Baldwin, Lockett, Kearse, Lockette, Matthews, Norwood
PUP: Richardson

Veterans: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Anthony McCoy, Cooper Helfet, RaShaun Allen

The Hawks love their TE corps, and Bevell is looking forward to two-TE personnel with Graham and Willson: “There’s so much stuff that you can do with it. … It really presents problems for the defense and how they want to match up to it. Do they want to play it like it’s a base formation? Or do they want to play it in their nickel? And we’re able to react according to how they choose to do that.”

The Hawks messed up their offense trying to get the ball to Percy Harvin last season, but Bevell said, “The cool part about Jimmy is we can just plug him in. We really don’t have to do anything special. He’s special as a player being able to fit into the offense; he’s picked it up very well. We can run the exact same routes that we’ve been running and just kind of plug him in.”

The 6-foot-7 Graham will give Wilson the over-the-middle target he has not had for three years.

The Hawks seem likely to go with just three tight ends, especially if they keep Tukuafu, which means McCoy and Helfet are in a tight battle for that third spot.

What to watch: Graham in his first game as a Hawk, of course.

Projected (3): Graham, Willson, McCoy

Veterans: LT Russell Okung, LG Alvin Bailey, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Justin Britt, OT Garry Gilliam, C Lemuel Jeanpierre, C Patrick Lewis, C Drew Nowak, OG Will Pericak, OG Keavon Milton
Rookies: OG Terry Poole, OG Mark Glowinski, C Kristjan Sokoli, OT Jesse Davis, OL Kona Schwenke

The battles at center and left guard have been watched, noted and logged perhaps more than any other positions on the team.

The center spot has been boiled down to Jeanpierre, the four-year veteran with 11 starts, vs. Nowak, yet another converted defensive lineman.

A trimmer Bailey seemed to have a lock on the left guard spot, but Milton suddenly has ascended to first string in practice this week and appears to be giving Bailey a run for his money. Even money says left guard will be a revolving door again, as it was in 2013.

The three draft picks — Glowinski, Poole and Sokoli — all have been moved around over the past week, with Poole now working as the No. 3 right tackle, Sokoli as the No. 3 left guard and Glowinski moving from No. 2 left guard back to No. 2 right guard after Milton stepped up to challenge Bailey. Glowinski seems like the only one of the three rookies who is destined to make the roster at this point.

What to watch: Center and left guard battles.

Projected (9): Okung, Sweezy, Britt, Bailey, Milton, Jeanpierre, Nowak, Gilliam, Glowinski


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s