Russell Wilson, Robert Turbin and rookies, rookies everywhere in Seattle
Those were two of the top storylines out of the Seahawks rookie minicamp, which concluded Sunday.
Seattle concludes Phase II of its offseason program this week, and next week is scheduled to begin the next tier of organized training activities. That leaves us time this week to break down what we learned the previous three days. We'll start with the review material:
Russell Wilson in the running to start
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times
Memories of brother help keep Turbin motivated
By Steve Kelley | The Seattle Times
Tall task for Seahawks Russell Wilson
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times
Here's the Clift Notes version of this weekend:
What we learned
1. Robert Turbin is more than a battering ram out of the backfield
The man's got huge biceps, but anyone who saw the pictures from the scouting combine knew that, and to be honest, I expected a big, bruising tailback built along the lines of T.J. Duckett. You know, a short-yardage specialist. Well, his lower body is lean, he's got some burst, and he ripped off a couple of long runs during Sunday's practice to punctuate the minicamp. He certainly projects as more than a short-yardage specialist.
2. Korey Toomer is an impressive linebacking specimen
In a draft where the Seahawks surprised a number of people, Toomer was perhaps the most under-the-radar selection. A linebacker Idaho recruited out of junior college, he missed the 2010 season after breaking his hand, and while he played well as a senior, he was not invited to the combine. He is long-armed and fast with incredible athleticism. His vertical leap measured 42 inches in a workout, and he looked every bit as athletic as advertised in this first weekend of workouts. He's playing strongside linebacker, a spot that is locked down by K.J. Wright now, but it's possible Toomer could land a role in the Seahawks' nickel defense sooner, rather than later.
3. Bruce Irvin is fast. Like really fast. Like by the time you read this sentence, he's already sacked the quarterback, celebrated and returned to the huddle to prepare to do it again.
The first day of practice was a little bit of a challenge in his conditioning, but even then, you saw bursts of that speed off the edge as he jetted around Alex Barron. Yes, Barron has been out of the league for a year, but we're also talking about a former first-round pick of a tackle. Irvin might not start right away, but he's going to have a role as a pass rusher right off the bat, and he showed this weekend he has the speed to make the most of it.
What we don't know
1. The extent of Bobby Wagner's role.
He's working at middle linebacker exclusively to start with, trying to get up to speed. Barrett Ruud is another consideration there, but he's recovering from multiple injuries, as is Matt McCoy, a special-teams mainstay who had a role as a nickel linebacker last year before suffering a knee injury. It's not unprecedented for a rookie to start there. Lofa Tatupu did it in 2005, but already it's clear that Seattle won't be relying on Wagner as much as Seattle relied on Tatupu that year. Wright would call the defense from the strongside spot were Wagner to start, with Wagner then echoing the calls.
2. Where Seattle will find tight end depth.
Maybe the Seahawks are, in fact, happy with Cameron Morrah and Anthony McCoy serving as the backups to Zach Miller. After all, Seattle didn't sign Visanthe Shiancoe after hosting him on a visit, and the Seahawks didn't draft a tight end, either. The most consistently productive tight end during the rookie minicamp was Cooper Helfet, who was on a three-day tryout from Duke University.
3. Just how the quarterback competition will play out.
A week ago, I felt it was unlikely Tarvaris Jackson wouldn't be on this team in 2012. After all, even the most ardent of his critics would have to concede that he's an above-average backup quarterback in today's NFL. Pete Carroll's straight-forward declaration that Wilson would be part of the competition for the starting quarterback job shows that the situation under center is more fluid than I expected. Wilson is not someone the Seahawks plan to develop quietly in the background for a year. Does that mean Jackson is gone? Not necessarily, but it certainly opens up that possibility if Matt Flynn and Wilson were to both outperform Jackson in training camp. If nothing else, it just made an already unclear situation at quarterback even more complicated.