RENTON, Wash. – On day two of his holdout-that-isn’t–a-holdout, Bobby Wagner put on a helmet and jersey.
That was in stark contrast to day one of training camp on Thursday when Wagner wore only a hoodie turned inside out, with no Seahawks identification visible.
The assumption is that irked coach Pete Carroll a little bit – he mentioned after Thursday’s practice that he would “visit” with Wagner about how he is handling this awkward period where the team’s standout middle linebacker is attending camp but not taking part in on-field drills as he and the team continue to negotiate a new contract.
When Wagner took to the field in helmet and jersey right as practice began it led to the obvious thought that maybe there had been a breakthrough and Wagner would get back on the field for the first time since last season.
Instead, when drills began, Wagner again stood to the side, at one point tossing a ball around with safety Bradley McDougald but most of the time simply watching the action and talking to teammates and coaches.
There remains a general expectation that something will get done soon, if for no other reason than things his teammates have said and the thought that the team wants to keep Wagner around for the long haul.
Expressing that opinion Friday was teammate Russell Wilson, who arrived in 2012 along with Wagner.
“I’ve talked to Bobby (about his contract situation),” Wilson said. “. …he deserves to be the highest-paid linebacker. There is nobody better in the game, that’s just the honest truth. He’s done great things, he’s put up all the stats, he’s done all the things. I think he will get taken care of. I have all the confidence it will work out. We need Bobby Wagner. He’s a great football player. I don’t want to play (against) him that’s for sure. I love for him to be on my team . Let’s play together for a long time.Bobby and I have goals, too. We are very similar. We want to win a Super Bowl together again, a few more Super Bowls and end it the right way, you now what I mean? So that’s kind of our mentality.”
As Wilson alluded to, Wagner wants a contract that would match or exceed the $17 million a year of C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets. That deal spans five years, which the Seahawks probably don’t want to do – even Wilson’s new deal is just for four seasons. So one hurdle may be giving Wagner the average he wants but the Seahawks maybe not taking on quite as much the long-term risk.
But some of that is guesswork – there has been little leaked about the talks, which is likely in part due to Wagner serving as his own agent, with the Seahawks pretty notoriously tight-lipped about such things.
The Seahawks are not on the practice field on Saturday before returning on Sunday when they can put on pads and do some actual hitting for the first time since the playoff loss in Dallas last January.
The Seahawks presumably would like Wagner to start getting in some actual football work as soon as possible.
But Wagner surely isn’t going to do any hitting without a new deal.
So for now, helmet or no helmet, the stalemate continues.
Here are some more thoughts on day two of Seahawks camp:
Big day for veteran receivers
The intrigue at this early stage in camp always falls largely on rookies and young players, and Seattle’s three drafted receivers are going to be in the spotlight throughout the preseason.
But for now, the starting three receivers remain veterans – Tyler Lockett, David Moore and Jaron Brown.
Lockett is the obvious new number one receiver with the departure of Doug Baldwin.
Moore and Brown will just as obviously have to fend off some of the young guys, and specifically DK Metcalf, to hold on to starting spots.
Friday, they each made a good case for themselves.
Brown had a handful of receptions including a deep pass for a touchdown from Russell Wilson in which he got behind the number one secondary.
Moore had two highlight-reel grabs, one in which he tiptoed on the sidelines while controlling the ball to make a completion.
Brown caught just 14 passes last year but had five touchdowns after signing as a free agent from Arizona, and from the start of the offseason program has been portrayed by coaches as ready to make a significant leap in production in year two in Seattle.
Maybe the Seahawks want to take some of the hype and expectations off Metcalf, who already has a ton of both.
But the coaches seem sincere in their praise and expectations for Brown.
“There is not a guy out there that I trust more than Jaron to do anything,” said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. “To run around, to block, put him in protection roles. Not a lot of guys do that. He’s so selfless – all about the team.”
Backup QB battle heating up
Schottenheimer said he continues to be impressed by the team’s backup quarterbacks – Geno Smith, who appears to be the number two right now, and Paxton Lynch.
Schottenheimer said Lynch “was really good” on Friday while he noted that Smith had won a couple of competitions in the meeting room earlier in the day for drawing up plays.
“Which made Russell a little pissed off, which is good when you can make him angry,” Schottenheimer said.
Schottenheimer, though, noted that what happens on the practice field means only so much in determining the backup QB battle.
“They understand it’s going to be a tough competition that goes a long way,” he said. “Ultimately it’s going to come down to who can move the team and score for us in the preseason (games).”
Offensive line stable as can be
The offense has featured no real change so far. The area with uncommon stability, compared to past years, is the offensive line, where the starting five is basically set – LT Duane Brown, LG Mike Iupati, C Justin Britt, RG D.J. Fluker and RT Germain Ifedi.
George Fant is also basically a lock to make the team in his hybrid role as a tight end/extra tackle.
That leaves the rest battling for two or three spots.
It’s way too early to know anything yet there, too. But it’s worth noting that Ethan Pocic continues to get looks at both center and guard, and that Joey Hunt also has been getting some snaps at guard along with center.
Pocic and Hunt are the only two other players on the roster listed as centers, so one is basically sure to make it as the backup center since Seattle is going to have to have someone on gameday who has some experience at that spot.
So, if you assume that one of Hunt or Pocic makes it, then basically everyone else is fighting for one or two spots.
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