Updated May 28, 2013 - 9:27 am
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 @ 5:17pm
RENTON – Michael Bennett entered the NFL as a player without a position in the eyes of some scouts.
A tweener, so to speak, because while he was an accomplished defensive lineman at Texas A&M, the knock was that he would be too small to play defensive tackle in the NFL and too slow to project as a pass-rushing defensive end.
That's kind of odd in retrospect since it's Bennett's ability to play multiple positions that might be his biggest asset now that he's in Seattle on a one-year deal after recording nine sacks for Tampa Bay last season.
"We really want to feature Mike as an inside rusher in passing-down situations," coach Pete Carroll said after Tuesday's minicamp practice. "But his versatility is such that he can play both end spots."
Defensive lineman Michael Bennett signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks in March after spending the last four seasons in Tampa Bay. (Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks)
Chris Clemons – last year's starting defensive end – is recovering from knee surgery, and while the Seahawks haven't ruled out the possibility that he will be ready to begin the regular season, there's no guarantee of that, either. Bruce Irvin backed up Clemons a year ago, but not only will he be suspended the first four games of the season, he's playing some strongside linebacker this season.
Then there's Cliff Avril, a marquee defensive addition for Seattle this offseason along with Bennett and cornerback Antoine Winfield. Avril returned to the field Tuesday, but was limited to individual drills as he recovers from plantar fasciitis.
Bennett has provided flexibility amidst all that uncertainty as he returned to the team where he began his NFL career as an undrafted rookie in 2009, making the team out of training camp.
Bennett, who weighs 274 pounds, didn't appear in a game for the Seahawks in 2009, and was released in the second month of the season when Seattle was forced to add another left tackle. Bennett was claimed by Tampa Bay, where he recorded 14 sacks over the past two seasons, and amidst a slow free-agent market, opted to join the Seahawks on a one-year deal.
Now, the guy that so many worried wouldn't have a true position in the NFL is showing what a value his versatility is.
"Maybe that knock helped me become a better player," Bennett said. "I'm happy to be able to play all those different positions."
The Seahawks signed Bennett with the intention of plugging him into the spot Jason Jones filled last season as the pass-rushing defensive tackle on passing downs, but he has proven himself capable of filling more than one hole in Seattle's defensive packages.
"We feel like we have a good sense for that already," Carroll said, "and he's got a great work ethic, too, that he adds to the team."
Off on the wrong foot
Tight end Zach Miller sat out practice with a sore foot Tuesday, watching the workout while wearing a plastic protective boot. And while that's the same foot Miller injured in Atlanta during the playoffs – suffering a torn fascia in the first half – that's where the similarities to Miller's current situation end.
"Not the same thing," Carroll said. "He's just got a sore foot."
Miller's absence left Sean McGrath and rookie Luke Willson as the two tight ends getting most of the work along with Cooper Helfet. Carroll said he did not have any long-term concerns about Miller's injury.
"It's not going to be a serious problem," Carroll said. "Just a little rest."
Wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip flexor), guard James Carpenter (knee surgery) and cornerback Tharold Simon (foot) did not participate in practice, either.
Breno Giacomini was back at practice, returning to Seattle after undergoing tests on his knee in New York last week.
"He's fine," Carroll said. "All the reports came back really solid and that he was OK, which was really good for his mindset. He needed to know that. He's ready to go."
Giacomini worked alongside guard John Moffitt with Seattle's first-unit offensive line on Tuesday. Moffitt will be competing with J.R. Sweezy for the starting job at that spot.
Fingers crossed for Chris
Clemons returned to Seattle this week, attending the team's mandatory minicamp. Clemons is recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn ligament he suffered in Seattle's first-round playoff game at Washington.
He has been rehabilitating on his own, and while Carroll offered no firm timeline for Clemons' return, he did not rule out the possibility that the team's top pass rusher each of the past three seasons will be ready to play in the opener.
"The doctors say he's in great shape," Carroll said. "He's ahead and all of that. He has worked diligently to get there. Is he going to make it by the first game? I don't know. He has a chance, and if it can happen, he'll make it happen. But like I said the whole time, we will not rush that. We're going to take our time on that and make sure he's right."
Monday, June 10, 2013 @ 1:17pm
Dave Boling of The News Tribune and ESPN's John Clayton joined "Brock and Danny" for a roundtable Seahawks discussion on Monday and were asked what potential issue – aside from injuries – poses the biggest threat to derailing a 2013 season that is full of promise.
Clayton's response: More suspensions stemming from violations of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Seattle will already be without defensive end Bruce Irvin for the first four games of the season while he serves a PED-related ban.
Boling had Irvin's suspension in mind when he answered with Seattle's pass rush, the team's most glaring deficiency last season.
"It came in spurts last year and at critical times they didn't always have it," he said.
"For instance, [at] Atlanta, if they get a little better pressure on that last drive on Matt Ryan, they're playing in the NFC Championship against a team they just beat by 39 points."
Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil have a different potential issue in mind, which they discuss in the video below.
You can listen to Monday's show here.
Sunday, June 9, 2013 @ 11:10pm
By Danny O'Neil
Jobs are like championships in the NFL in at least one way.
Neither are won in June.
But that doesn't mean there wasn't anything at stake during Seattle's offseason training program, though, and as those workouts conclude with this week's three-day mandatory minicamp, it's an opportunity to pinpoint which players have impressed and which ones still have a ways to go.
I. Littler Mr. Moffitt
A third-round pick in 2011, John Moffitt was installed as a rookie starter before suffering a season-ending knee injury that compromised his offseason preparation a year ago. By the end of last season, Moffitt was sharing time behind J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive tackle who was playing offensive line for the first time since junior high.
Well, Moffitt is in noticeably better shape this year. At least his coach has certainly noticed.
"He's had a good offseason," Pete Carroll said of Moffitt. "He's in the best shape since we've had him. He's in better shape than when he got here. He's leaner, and I think stronger, than he has been."
Whether that translates to a starting role remains to be seen, and his competition with Sweezy at right guard is one of the only starting spots that will be up for grabs in August.
II. Catching on
Chris Harper's role really isn't a question. At 234 pounds, he is the biggest of Seattle's receivers and his strength and size were a pair of intriguing calling cards for Carroll, who has had a great deal of success with larger receivers.
But while Harper caught the ball extremely well during the three-day rookie minicamp in May, he hasn't made the same impact after joining the veterans for workouts. The Seahawks will remain a run-first offense, which means there's a question as to how they're going to spread the ball among receivers Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. There's no doubt about Harper making the team, but he's got work to do if he's going to crack the rotation.
III. Simon says, 'Recover'
Fifth-round pick Tharold Simon is the prototypical Seahawks cornerback, standing 6 feet 2. That length – combined with Simon's strength – makes him a natural fit for Seattle's press-man scheme.
But while Simon looks the part, we still haven't quite seen that yet. Not enough at least since his on-field work has been very limited during the voluntary training sessions because of a bum wheel.
"He came in with an old foot injury that he played with all last year," Carroll said. "We just want to make sure. It's kind of a stress-fracture kind of looking thing, but it isn't that yet. So we just don't want it to progress."
Translation: It's not too bad right now, but it could get worse, so the Seahawks have had him rest.
The question is where that will leave him when training camp begins because cornerback is going to be one of the most competitive spots on the roster. Start with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Then there's veteran Antoine Winfield and Walter Thurmond, who's healthy for the first time in two years. That leaves Simon hip deep in a battle to make the roster with second-year player and special-teams mainstay Jeremy Lane as well as Byron Maxwell and Will Blackmon.
Simon can't afford to be playing catchup in terms of conditioning when training camp opens.
IV. Knee-d to know: Jesse Williams
Maybe it was nothing more than a precaution that rookie Jesse Williams watched last Wednesday's offseason training activity. Maybe it was just a little soreness in the right knee that was covered in a compression sleeve. Maybe it won't mean a thing when training camp begins.
But concern over Williams' knee was the primary reason the defensive tackle from Alabama was available in the fifth round when Seattle chose him. He has as clear of a path to playing time as any rookie on the team if he can hold up. That will be something to watch going forward.
V. Tackle football
You comfortable with rookie Michael Bowie – a seventh-round pick – being one injury away from starting at offensive tackle? Well, how about Michael Person, a seventh-round choice from 2011 who's now in his third year? One of those two is the backup right now because while Paul McQuistan has played some tackle, he's at guard right now while James Carpenter recovers from knee surgery.
Frank Omiyale was last year's backup tackle, but he wasn't re-signed, which leaves Seattle going with the youth movement. For now.
Saturday, June 8, 2013 @ 3:50pm
When the 2013 NFL season finally arrives, opposing defenses will be geared up for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The sophomore signal-caller tortured teams down the stretch in 2012 with his ability to mix in zone-read option plays to the Seahawks' otherwise balanced attack. Each and every instance of Wilson's success will have been pored over by the rest of the league by the time the Seahawks reach their season opener, however, and how Wilson reacts to defensive schemes he hasn't seen before will be key for the Seahawks, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com told "Brock and Danny."
"(The Seahawks' season) is gonna depend on how Russell Wilson reacts to that adjustment that teams will be making as they try to figure out how to shut him down based on a full season of game tape," Florio said. "Will the Seahawks and Russell Wilson be able to essentially predict what defenses are going to do and exploit the weaknesses that pop up when the defenses reconfigure to take away the things that Russell did well? I think he's got the will and the brainpower to do it. The physical ability – I don't know at what point he reaches his limit, but I think that as Wilson goes, the team goes, and they still have a chance to be very very good."
Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil have another reason why Wilson and the Seahawks will continue to outsmart defenses. As they explain in the video below, the effectiveness of the Seahawks' zone-read keeps the focus off other more essential parts of their offense.
Friday, June 7, 2013 @ 4:04pm
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks already had arguably the NFL's best cornerback duo in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman before they added free agent Antoine Winfield, a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
Add a finally-healthy Walter Thurmond and promising recent draft picks Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon, and it wouldn't be a stretch to say Seattle has an embarrassment of riches at the position.
Danny O'Neil addressed the questions regarding Seattle's cornerback situation and others in the latest edition of "Hawk Talk". The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.
Isaac asked which reserve cornerback could be the odd-man out. The dude later asked whether Maxwell or Lane has the better chance at making the team.
Danny O'Neil. Well, I think the team will keep six corners. Browner, Sherman and Winfield would be deemed locks, and I would consider Thurmond not at risk of being cut. Lane, also hard for me not to see him on the team. That leaves Maxwell, Simon and Will Blackmon playing for a spot. Maxwell has a real hard time staying healthy, but he has been doing hot yoga, which is supposed to get him loose and stop the recurring hamstring strains. I really like Lane, though. Thought he was a special-teams demon and promising nickel corner. Lots of scrap in him.
Sean asked about the likelihood of Seattle retaining Browner, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Danny O'Neil. My inclination is to say that with the number of other priorities – and Sherman and safety Earl Thomas both in what amount to contract years – that Seattle won't be able to keep him. On the other hand, I look at the absolutely brutal free-agent market for cornerbacks this offseason and it might be a situation where Browner ends up cheaper than anyone expected.
Chawks asked if Simon's foot injury or receiver Percy Harvin's sore hip flexor are concerns.
Danny O'Neil. Wouldn't worry for a second about Harvin's hip flexor. Now Simon, that's a question. Pete Carroll said he's suffered from that soreness through last season, and tests showed the injury could become a stress fracture. That secondary is deep, and Simon is going to be playing catch-up in the race to earn playing time.
Happyharms asked whether there's room on the roster for Doug Baldwin given the addition of fellow slot receiver Harvin. DiJoo later asked how Baldwin has looked this offseason.
Danny O'Neil. Yes, I definitely think there's room for Baldwin. In fact, I would be surprised if he's not on the roster. Who else is going to fill that role at slot? I mean, there are some young players like Justin Veltung and Bryan Walters have a shot at slot, but that's a long way to go to beating out a guy who's entering his third year in this offense. I remarked to Brock when we were watching practice the other day that Baldwin looked much better.
TaterTots asked for the likelihood that wide receiver Sidney Rice is released or asked to take a significant paycut after this season.
Danny O'Neil. That depends entirely on how he plays this season. Looking at Seattle's payroll structure and the large raise that Harvin receives in terms of cap-cost next season, it seems unlikely that Rice would stay on his current deal. But what if Rice has 1,500 yards receiving and 12 touchdown catches, you still going to cut him?
John asked whether the Seahawks will keep Paul McQuistan at his $3 million salary if he doesn't emerge as a starter at guard.
Danny O'Neil. Well, that's a question, but here's another one: Who's your backup tackle? McQuistan is the most versatile in the lineup.
Robert asked about the depth on the offensive line.
Danny O'Neil. There's a real question at backup tackle, something highlighted by the fact that rookie seventh-round pick Michael Bowie got first-team reps when Breno Giacomini was getting his knee looked at in New York. Frank Omiyale, last year's backup tackle, has not been re-signed. McQuistan has the versatility to play there, but that's not ideal. Bowie and Michael Person right now are the backups.
Isaac asked whether Robert Turbin or Chrisine Michael will be the No. 2 running back behind Marshawn Lynch.
Danny O'Neil. That question is not going to matter as much in previous years. You're going to see both Turbin and Michael get carries. Bigger question: Is Turbin going to be the third-down back? I might expect that.
Thursday, June 6, 2013 @ 12:53pm
No team threw the ball less often last season than the Seahawks, who averaged a league-low 25 attempts per game.
Even though coach Pete Carroll insists Seattle will remain a run-first offense, that number figures to rise as quarterback Russell Wilson has another year under his belt and another weapon in Percy Harvin at his disposal.
With that in mind, Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil discuss in the video below how often they think the Seahawks will get Harvin the ball.
You can listen to Thursday's show here.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 @ 6:07pm
RENTON – If he was healthy.
For three years those four words have followed any description of Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond, a footnote attached to any description of his potential.
If he was healthy, he would have been at least a second-round pick coming out of Oregon in 2010, maybe even a late first-round choice, but coming off a serious knee injury in which he tore three ligaments as senior, Thurmond was chosen in the fourth.
If he was healthy, he may have won a starting cornerback job for Seattle in 2011. Instead he was slowed by a high ankle sprain in training camp and after an injury to Marcus Trufant opened up a starting job in Week 5, Thurmond suffered a broken leg the next game that ended his season.
"He's fighting to play a bunch, not just to be around here," coach Pete Carroll said of cornerback Walter Thurmond, who's missed 28 games over his first three seasons. (Rod Mar, Seattle Seahawks)
And Thurmond could be a factor in the secondary for Seattle this season if he was healthy, and guess what? He is.
"Now he's right," coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. "He's over that hump and really has prepared himself to have a great camp."
Now, Thurmond is not some shiny, new offseason acquisition for Seattle so he's not going to inspire the imagination in the same way as veteran addition Antoine Winfield. Not only that, but he doesn't play a position of extreme need. The Seahawks' secondary was already considered one of the best in the league, and that was before signing Winfield, a three-time Pro Bowler in Minnesota.
But don't go crossing Thurmond off Seattle's depth chart just yet. The guy who has started four games in three seasons as a Seahawk stands 5 feet 10 with a wingspan as broad as his 6-3 teammate Richard Sherman and an explosiveness that also merits consideration as a punt returner.
"Walter is physically capable of showing off," Carroll said. "He is a tremendous athlete. He has been in a situation where he has kind of had to hold back a little bit for a long time, and then he's really able to just go for it now. He's got extraordinary quickness. He's a playmaker. He's fighting to play a bunch, not just to be around here."
The question of where Thurmond would play seems to be compromised by the offseason addition of Winfield, who was added to a secondary with entrenched starters Brandon Browner and Sherman.
"We preach competition," Thurmond said. "And from what I've been told, three spots are open for competition, the nickel spot and both corner spots. I'm going out there and just worrying about my game and competing for a starting job."
By the same token, Thurmond is not alone in his aspirations about making an impact in that secondary, and he's going to have to play his way onto the regular-season roster with Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell and veteran Will Blackmon – who was added this offseason – also looking to lock down a spot. Rookie Tharold Simon was drafted in the fifth round, and he'll also be playing for a spot though he has not practiced recently, resting a foot that has been painful going back more than a year now.
But while injuries have slowed Thurmond's career, they haven't shaken his confidence.
"Personally, I feel that I'm an elite player," Thurmond said. "I just fell short with circumstances playing this brutal game we call football. That is a consequence of playing. Both of my injuries are pretty serious."
But now, Thurmond says he feels better than he has at any point since returning from the lockout in 2011. Before he suffered that high ankle sprain in training camp, then broke the same leg twice in the span of seven months and finished each of the past two seasons on injured reserve.
Healthy again, Thurmond is reminding everyone the kind of potential he possess if he can stay on the field.
"When he's playing healthy, it's just something we got in our back pocket," safety Earl Thomas said. "If he can stay healthy, we'll be good."
Related: Walter Thurmond stands out at Seahawks' OTA.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 @ 8:25am
Richard Sherman shouldn't be able to surprise anyone at this point. Not unless Seattle's outspoken cornerback takes the fifth, anyway.
In two years, Sherman has gone from a fifth-round pick to an All-Pro cornerback to an all-world lightning rod. He has picked off 12 passes in his career, taunted Tom Brady and perhaps most amazingly of all, won his appeal of a four-game suspension because of irregularities in the testing procedure.
At this point, he shouldn't be taking anyone by surprise, which makes what happened during Monday's practice so very remarkable.
Richard Sherman isn't known for his speed, but he showed he has a higher gear while making a leaping interception over Golden Tate on Monday. (AP)
I'm not sure what was tougher to believe about that play: What Sherman did or the fact that he made me feel that I had underestimated him. Again. That's not easy to do at this point given how high of regard the man is held in after a season in which he intercepted eight passes and had the best season of any cornerback in the league.
Sherman stands 6 feet 3, he is strong and tough and he has a fighter pilot's confidence in his abilities to best anyone he goes against. But of all the traits Sherman has been praised for, his ability to run down an opposing receiver has not generally been one of them.
People will talk about his length, his ball skills and his unrelenting, at times overbearing confidence, but he wasn't considered to have the catch-up speed like Champ Bailey and Nnamdi Asomugha had a few years back or Darrelle Revis before his knee injury. Get a step, maybe even two behind them, that's OK. Those guys could make that up when the ball was in the air.
Maybe Sherman has that higher gear, too. Think back to the first half of Seattle's playoff game against Atlanta. No, not Roddy White's touchdown catch, but earlier when it appeared Julio Jones was behind the Seahawks' defense and Matt Ryan threw a pass to him only to have Sherman accelerate, make up the distance and reach to tip the ball away before Jones had a chance to catch it.
Monday's practice was a reminder that Sherman's speed is an asset, not a liability for the guy who won a state champion in the triple jump as a high-school senior in California.
While Sherman's first two years have taught the rest of the league not to underestimate the former fifth-round pick, there still may be more to learn about Sherman's full range of skills.
Monday's practice was proof that there's still room for surprise, even from an All-Pro.
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.