RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks were off Monday after completing their first four practices of the 2013 season.
And thanks to the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement that vastly limited the amount of practices teams can hold this time of year, that means the Seahawks are already one-fourth of the way through what is officially defined as training camp.
Here, then, is a look at five things we’ve learned in that first quarter:
• Percy Harvin will miss the season – or maybe not: OK, so we don’t yet know the answer to the key question to arise in the first four practices – the health of Harvin, the wide receiver who was the team’s key offseason acquisition.
Harvin will get a second opinion on his ailing hip in New York today, and if surgery is required he could be out a while. If not, he could be back for the start of the season. Or maybe it’s something in between and the team makes sure to get him ready for the second half and a playoff run.
For now, despite the rampant speculation in social media and elsewhere, it’s too soon to really know much of anything other than that the excitement created by the trade and signing of Harvin to a six-year $67 million contract has been muted until his injury status is cleared up.
• Expect Tarvaris Jackson to win the backup quarterback job: This isn’t a surprise, as conventional wisdom from the moment Jackson returned to the team in June held that he’d eventually beat out Brady Quinn to become the team’s backup quarterback to Russell Wilson.
Jackson’s rise to the No. 2 role, though, appears to already be happening. After Quinn appeared to take the majority of the snaps with the second unit the first day, Jackson appeared to take the majority of the second-unit reps the next three days.
• The Seahawks are really deep at cornerback: It’s no secret the Seahawks have maybe the best set of cornerbacks in the NFL in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Camp, though, has reinforced that the cupboard is far from bare below those two.
Walter Thurmond, healthy after battling a series of injuries the past three years, continues to shine and is waging a stiff battle with free-agent signee Antoine Winfield for the nickelback job. Younger players, notably Jeremy Lane and Ron Parker, as well as Will Blackmon and Byron Maxwell, also have had their moments.
Seattle’s apparent bevy of young talent, in fact, caused one national observer to opine that Winfield-a 15-year NFL veteran-might have trouble making the team.
Seattle coaches say only that they know they will have some tough decisions to make when it comes time to pare the roster down to 53.
“This is a very competitive group,” said defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
• The guard spots remain up in the air: Possibly the two most competitive position battles on the team are at right guard (J.R. Sweezy/John Moffitt) and left guard (Paul McQuistan/James Carpenter).
Sweezy and Moffitt spent the first four practices taking turns working with the starting offense, with no apparent separation yet between the two. McQuistan continues to work with the first team on the left side. But maybe the biggest positive of the first quarter of workouts was the return of Carpenter, the team’s 2011 first-round pick who has battled knee issues since coming to Seattle. Once he gets back into football shape he’ll make a serious run at the starting job.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said the team would like to be able to solidify those two spots “as fast as possible.”
But he also said that probably won’t happen.
“We’re going to let it play out for a little bit and it may go through the preseason,” he said. “We don’t know at this point. I want to make sure that I give that a fair shot.”
• The Bruce Irvin experiment at linebacker appears to be working: Irvin, the team’s 2012 first-round pick who played last year solely at defensive end, is also being worked now at outside linebacker – he works with the linebackers when the team splits into position drills.
Irvin, though, will also continue to get in some work at end. But coach Pete Carroll says the team wanted to try to find some different ways to get Irvin’s speed and quickness on the field, and through the first practices the coaches like what they have seen.
“He’s off to a good start in the first part of training camp in terms of the work and the approach,” Quinn said.
Said Carroll: “We are really excited about this transition. It’s just a matter of growing and encompassing more responsibility and he’s doing that really well.”