The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
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.
Thursday, May 9, 2013 @ 1:53pm
Marshawn Lynch's pending DUI case and Doug Baldwin's future in Seattle beyond 2013 were among the topics discussed when Danny O'Neil hosted another edition of "Hawk Talk" on Thursday.
You can find the transcript of the chat here. Below are some highlights.
A guest posing as Brock Huard asked whether Lynch will be available for the start of the season considering he has a DUI case pending in Alameda County, Calif.
Danny O'Neil: This is a great question, and we don't know. There's a hearing to dismiss the charges on May 22 with a trial tentatively scheduled going in June. If he's convicted of DUI, there's a very real possibility he could face a suspension. However, that would really depend on the commissioner's discretion. A DUI was covered under the substance-abuse policy. Lynch was previously suspended under the personal-conduct policy. A first-time DUI offense generally doesn't warrant a suspension. However, the fact Lynch was previously suspended does create a conundrum.
Doug Baldwin will be a restricted free agent after the 2013 season, while fellow Seahawks receiver Golden Tate will be an unrestricted free agent. (AP)
Danny O'Neil. Very possible. I would say that we'll have to wait and see if Baldwin is in position for a long-term deal after next year. Team could tender him – and given the lack of offer sheets to restricted free agents – Baldwin could very well wind up playing 2014 on a one-year tender.
dharmabruce asked about Jermaine Kearse and whether he will end up on the 53-man roster or the practice squad.
Danny O'Neil. Great question, and he's one of the players I'm going to be most interested to watch in training camp. He had a real rapport with Russell Wilson in training camp last year, and he's got great size. The question – as always – is his catching ability.
RWIII isn't sold on the idea of using Bruce Irvin as an outside linebacker, while Kobe Berg doubts Irvin would be dropping into coverage much in that role.
Danny O'Neil. It's going to be interesting, that's for sure. I can see how you'd be concerned that you're taking a guy and seeing if he can do something that is drastically different from the position you picked him for. I can also see how – if it works – this makes your pass rush so much more dynamic because you essentially have two blazing-fast edge rushers on the field. ...There will be times that he does have to drop. Also, if Cliff Avril is at Leo, I think there will be times he's called to drop to change things up and keep offenses guessing.
PartyHarty asked what happened to Darren Fells.
Danny O'Neil: He was released, and this is not a shock. The guy hadn't played football in 10 years, and while the combination of his size and athleticism made him intriguing, his (lack of) playing history made him a long shot. A lot was made of the fact he signed a three-year contract, and that was very misguided. The team controls a player's rights until after he completes three seasons.
Thursday, May 9, 2013 @ 7:59am
Seattle's rookies show up for their first day of work on Friday, and while this is more like an introductory quiz than a final exam, it's never too soon to start asking questions about this year's crop of newcomers.
Here's five things we'll be trying to find out during this weekend's three-day minicamp:
Can Tharold Simon play the part he appears perfectly suited for?
He certainly looks like a Seahawks cornerback, standing 6-feet-2. He plays like a Seahawks cornerback, too, as he was known for his feisty man-to-man coverage at LSU. He was even picked in the fifth round, which is where the Seahawks have had remarkable success finding defensive backs since that's where they selected safety Kam Chancellor in 2010 and cornerback Richard Sherman a year later.
Sure, Simon was arrested in his hometown the day the draft began, but the Seahawks have been willing to overlook a legal scrape or two in the past. He sounds like an ideal fit for Seattle's secondary. Does his play match up?
Defensive tackle Jesse Williams might have the best chance of any Seattle rookie to crack the Week 1 starting lineup. (AP)
The Seahawks have had at least one rookie in the starting lineup the past four years, a streak that has a very good chance of ending this year with all but two of last year's starters still on the roster. But while there's no way this will be like 2011 when James Carpenter, John Moffitt and K.J. Wright were all Week 1 starters as rookies, there's certainly a chance that a newcomer will make an impact.
Defensive tackle Jesse Williams might be the best bet in that regard. At 6-feet-3, 323 pounds, he's the type of big-bodied player Seattle has found success with on the defensive line, whether it was with Red Bryant at defensive end or Alan Branch at tackle. Right now, new addition Tony McDaniel projects as the starter for Seattle as the three-technique defensive tackle, which means it's conceivable Williams could play his way to top of the depth chart.
Williams also has the distinction of being the only player John Schneider has traded up to acquire during his term as Seahawks general manager. Seattle gave up two picks to acquire choice No. 137, which was used to select Williams.
How's Spencer Ware's transition game?
He was the second running back Seattle selected, but the Seahawks are actually looking at him as a potential fullback. Will he make that transition quick enough to make the 53-man roster? Anyone thinking that his selection signaled the potential end of Michael Robinson's time with the Seahawks should think back to Mack Strong, who spent the better part of a decade beating out fullbacks like Heath Evans, Chris Davis and then David Kirtman.
Still, Ware is a big, physical back and it will be interesting to see how quickly he takes to the position whose job description reads like a battering ram.
How does Michael Bowie look?
Of the four players Seattle took the seventh round, this is the guy that just might have the best chance at making the roster. Start with the position: Bowie plays offensive tackle, a position where Seattle returns starters Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini while Mike Person is the primary backup at age 24, a member of the practice squad who was promoted to Seattle's 53-man roster last year.
Bowie spent time at a junior college, transferred to Oklahoma State where he played as a junior and was projected to start at left tackle for the Cowboys last season only to be kicked off the team the month before the season started. Bowie wound up playing at Northeastern State in Oklahoma, and Schneider said Bowie was chosen where he was for a reason: "He has a background," Schneider said.
There's also a reason he was drafted at all because he's got plenty of ability, he knows Okung and he plays a position that gives him a shot to make the 53-man roster.
Which undrafted free agent will find a way onto the team?
Great question. There's an average of one a year over the past decade, and anyone who questions the level of impact an undrafted player can have should be reminded that Doug Baldwin led this team in catches two years ago. Three undrafted rookies made the team that year: Baldwin, quarterback Josh Portis and safety Jeron Johnson.
None made it a year ago, but you could have one this year even with the stature of Seattle's roster. A big part of Seattle's pitch to sign undrafted linebackers John Lotulelei of UNLV and Craig Wilkins of Old Dominion was that Seattle didn't use a draft choice on anyone to play linebacker. We'll see if either of those can make a case for the regular-season roster.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 @ 10:55am
Linebacker Leroy Hill will not face a felony charge in King County for his January arrest on suspicion of domestic violence in Issaquah.
The King County Prosecutors Office decided the case against Hill was insufficient for a felony charge, a spokesman for the department said Wednesday. Hill may still face a misdemeanor charge, though, as the case has been referred to the Issaquah prosecuting attorney.
Hill was arrested on Jan. 29 after officers were summoned to his Issaquah home by a woman who identified herself to police as Hill's live-in girlfriend. She alleged Hill assaulted her, took her cell phone and held her against her will. She was taken to Swedish hospital, treated and released, according to a police statement. Police staked out Hill's home and later arrested him nearby. He was released later that week without being charged.
Hill, 30, was a third-round pick by the Seahawks in 2005, but he is currently un-signed. He has played on a one-year contract each of the past two seasons. The Seahawks have not indicated they are interested in bringing him back.
Hill and cornerback Marcus Trufant were the only two players on last year's team who were also part of Seattle's Super Bowl team in 2005. Trufant's departure became official Tuesday when he signed with Jacksonville.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 @ 2:57pm
The Seahawks had already started revamping their defensive line before adding a pair of tackles in last month's draft.
Seattle signed pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett during the first week of free agency, then added Tony McDaniel before allowing fellow defensive tackle Alan Branch to sign elsewhere.
Defensive line was still the Seahawks' priority heading into the draft, where they selected Jordan Hill in the third round and Jesse Williams in the fifth, two more additions to what was already going to be a new-look unit.
The Seahawks will get their first look at Hill and Williams during the team's rookie minicamp, which runs from Friday through Sunday.
How will the rookie defensive tackles fit in with the other additions along the defensive line? Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil tackle that question as they continue their look at different position groups on the Seahawks.
You can listen to Tuesday's show here.
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