If Monday’s OTA session at the VMAC in Renton is any indication, fans concerned that the Seattle Seahawks might let up after their Super Bowl XLVIII victory need not be worried.
Hawks players were flying around on a sunny Seattle Monday — as were some verbal fisticuffs.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin — the epitome of head coach Pete Carroll’s “always compete” mantra — proved that his new three-year, $13 million extension with the team hadn’t taken the fight out of him, calling out linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. with a string of vulgarities after the Hawks defense got the best of Baldwin’s offense during some 11-on-11 reps
The two worked things out with a hug and handshake just seconds later, but it was clear that Baldwin was going to continue in his role as a fiery leader on the offensive side of the ball.
His counterpart on defense, cornerback Richard Sherman, signed his own four-year, $56 million extension in the offseason. But the money hasn’t diminished his effort in the voluntary sessions either, as Sherman was consistently jawing at the offensive squad and his defensive teammates throughout Monday’s session.
Sherman took particular interest in third-year cornerback Chandler Fenner, offering tips from the sideline and assisting Fenner with his technique.
Baldwin’s and Sherman’s energy level was indicative of the entire squad, which seems not to have gotten complacent following the Super Bowl season in 2013. Quarterback Russell Wilson attributed that drive to the make-up of the team, calling his teammates a group that is “so competitive, so eager to play.”
Linebacker Bobby Wagner added that the team isn’t content to rest on its laurels. “If we’re going to call ourselves the best, we’ve got to prove it every day,” he told reporters after the practice session.
Wagner also said the contracts given to Baldwin, Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and defensive end Michael Bennett in the offseason serve to motivate the team. The fact that the franchise has spent money toward retraining players already on the roster gives players motivation to earn their spots and prove themselves, knowing the Hawks aren’t “looking for someone outside,” according to Wagner.
Attendance and injury updates
After Monday’s session, the Seahawks revealed that linebacker Bruce Irvin underwent hip surgery on Monday morning. The team would not elaborate on the injury or give a timetable for his return. Also missing Monday’s session were running back Marshawn Lynch (for being Marshawn Lynch), defensive tackle Andru Pulu (completing school), tackle Russell Okung (foot surgery), defensive end Cassius Marsh (completing school) and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (personal reasons).
Players present but not participating were wide receiver Sidney Rice, safety Kam Chancellor, running back Spencer Ware, linebackers Malcolm Smith and Heath Farwell, tight end RaShuan Allen and defensive end O’Brien Schofield.
Running with the 1′s
With Lynch away, Christine Michael took most of the reps with the No. 1 offense. Last week, Carroll praised Michael’s development and said that the 2013 second-round pick would get a lot of work in the lead-up to the 2014 season.
Tackle Justin Britt — the second of the team’s 2014 second-rounders — got some time with the No. 1 offense at right tackle as Michael Bowie sat out some of the session.
On defense, safety Jeron Johnson continued to line up alongside Thomas in Chancellor’s absence, while defensive tackle Jordan Hill and defensive end Benson Mayowa lined up with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in the Hawks’ first-team nickel package during two-minute drills.
Youngsters battle it out
Cornerback Tharold Simon — who missed all of the 2013 season with foot injuries — was on the field Monday. The 6-foot-3, 202-pounder certainly looks the part of a Seahawks defensive back, and he showed some of the physicality that has him in the running to play a key role for the team this season.
In one play during 11-on-11 drills, Simon lined up across from second-round pick Paul Richardson, then put the rookie wide receiver on the ground with a quick, powerful jam. The slight Richardson recovered a couple of plays later, using his blazing speed to burn coverage for what Wilson called a “deep, deep, deep ball” (about a 50-yard touchdown).
Simon got a little too physical with free-agent signee Chris Matthews earlier in the session, jumping on the 6-foot-5, 218-pound receiver’s back and bringing to the ground during a live period. That caused a reaction from Matthews’ offensive teammates and earned Simon a talking to from Wilson and Sherman — though they were likely giving him differing feedback.
Case o’ the Drops
Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks quarterbacks weren’t particularly sharp on Monday, but their receivers did them few favors. Robert Turbin, Anthony McCoy and Kiero Small — none of whom are wideouts — each had balls go off of their hands, while Matthews — who according to Wilson had a great session Friday — dropped two, including one that would have been a 50-yard touchdown.
Still, when asked about his receivers, Wilson was unequivocal in his praise, calling them “as fast as it gets” and the “best looking position so far.”
A different kind of cut
Wilson explained the roots of his new haircut, which has grown out since he nearly shaved his head in mid-May. After getting a mohawk prior to a charity event in May, Wilson said, he buzzed it off because he didn’t want to sport a mohawk at the White House.
King County Council members recognized the Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVIII win with a proclamation, declaring June “Seattle Seahawks Month” in King County. So happy holidays, everyone.
By Stephen Cohen