Updated May 18, 2010 - 1:15 pm
It will always be a competition in my mind
by Liz Mathews, 710 ESPN Seattle
The Seahawks kick-offed OTAs today on the outside practice field at the VMAC. The majority of key players were in attendance save for the injured, the rookies still in class, and Leroy Hill - per the team's request.
Carroll continues to run a tight ship, with a ton of team drills and reps galore. Originally slated for two hours, Pete apparently saw what needed to be seen and the guys wrapped up in an hour and a half.
Following practice, John Carlson addressed his expanded role and the expectations of the tight ends for the season.
"This is my third year, third staff, third offense and third position coach. This is routine to me - starting over. We have a lot of time to meet and work with each other on the field - the transition isn't all that bad," he explained.
With the addition of TE Chris Baker earlier in the off season, and the hopefully re-vamped O-Line, Carlson is expected to be utilized in more of a receiving capacity.
"We are very fortunate to have John," said Coach Carroll, "He is a versatile football player and a very good receiver and we need to put him in positions to do that." Getting Chris [Baker] in here and Anthony [McCoy] and with Cameron [Morrah], it's going to be important to find our mix. Carlson has had to carry the load as the base tight end, but we'd like to move him around and put him in positions where he can be effective."
Carlson concurs: "Its fun to move around and be asked to do different things. We're in the learning phase of the offense right now, figuring out what we do well. Everyday is a new day - it's exciting."
Shortly after practice concluded, the Hawks announced that they released tight end Jason Pociask, who had signed to Seattle's practice squad in December 2009. Pociask was originally a fifth-round pick (150th overall) by the New York Jets in the 2006 NFL Draft and had spent time with New England, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Carolina.
For now, John Carlson, Chris Baker, Patrick Devenny, Jameson Konz, Anthony McCoy, and Cameron Morrah are the remaining tight ends listed on the roster.
During the drills and the after practice, it was finally time to get a look at QB Mike Reilly, recently claimed off waivers and ready to make his mark.
"Playing in the NFL is a dream," he said, "but playing with a team you've always wanted to play for is that much sweeter." As a local boy first acquired by the Steelers after SBXL, it's nice to be on a team his friends can finally root for. He's back in his comfort zone now - he explained - with the blue and the green helmets and the passionate fans he knows so well.
This is Reilly's fourth team in his short professional career, having been signed initially by Pittsburg as an undrafted free agent before spending some time with the Packers and Rams organizations.
Adjusting to new systems is nothing new for Reilly, who had four coaches and four playbooks in college as well. "Once you get that new book you flush everything out of the old system and start from scratch," he said. With the exception of all the west coast offense information he has picked up along the way...
Reilly explained the Seahawks incorporate the spread attack similar to what he ran in college. "It's a blend," he said, "it really makes sense the way you read this offense and go through your progressions. It makes a lot more sense than some of the other stuff I've been taught."
"It's not a long shot anymore," said Reilly, referring to the fact that he entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. "As long as you can play, they are going to give you the opportunity. It doesn't matter if you were undrafted or a first round pick." Brady, Romo and of course, JaMarcus Russell, were cited as examples.
Wrapping up the day, Pete Carroll spoke to the media regarding the "young guys" and his intentions for integrating them into the team. While not everyone was available due to class schedules and injuries, Pete explained that this is a very, very important time for them:
They are certainly behind and they have to work to catch up. We push the young guys to the front, they are are getting a lot of turns and we are going to stuff them with plays. We know they are going to make mistakes but we just need to get them out there. So, one, we can see where they are, what and they know. But also, just to get them active. It sends a message to the guys who have been here too - how important their turns and their reps are. They lose some reps to the young guys coming on the field.
With Kevin Vickerson, Lendale White and some others unavailable to practice, Carroll feels that the roster is not yet stabilized and the team has yet to feel the true impact of what happened on draft day.
"We'll continue to peck away at it, but this is the bulk of the guys we are counting on."
Of all of the little things he's looked at, Pete is most impressed with Red Bryant and his expanded role. Or rather, withered role to a smaller man and his transition to the defensive end position. "We never thought of him as a defensive end when he came in here," said Carroll, "but he's worked really hard in the off season program, seems to be moving well and has really taken to the position." While it's nice to have some bulk there - Pete hopes to whittle Red down to 330 pounds. Now that is a lot of defensive end.
"He's in the best shape he's ever been, he feels good about himself, knows his stuff and looks effective. But until he gets the pads on, we won't know though," Carroll cautioned.
As for Brandon Mebane, Carroll hopes to develop his pass rush abilities as well. Looking "explosively quick," Carroll is counting on his speed and ability to penetrate. "We need to load up with big dudes to compete in the division and match up on the line."
And finally... Charlie Whitehurst. Despite what it may look like to the casual observer at times, Carroll believes he's not lagging behind in any of the learning so far. "He's got a terrific arm and a nice release - all the physical stuff is there. He's done everything we've asked of him so far."
It just seems to me that he could do it, well, a little more quickly.
"I'm really pleased with Matt [Hasselbeck] being our quarterback right now," said Pete, "I have been from the start; I've never wavered from that. However, we're trying to make it as competitive as possible. We are trying to push Matt to make him better and trying to elevate Charlie's game as well."
"It will always be a competition, in my mind."
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