RENTON – They changed locations, numbers and uniforms, but linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin found themselves in a familiar position Saturday – staring at each other across the line of scrimmage.
Wagner and Turbin were teammates at Utah State. Turbin rushed for 1,517 yards his final season for the Aggies, and set a school record with 51 total touchdowns.
The Seahawks selected Wagner in the second round of this year’s draft as a potential replacement for middle linebacker David Hawthorne. And Turbin was drafted in the fourth round to help lessen the load for workhorse running back Marshawn Lynch.
“I’ve got a different number, he’s got a different number and it’s like, here we go again,” Turbin said. “It’s just a different helmet on – a different team, a whole different scheme. The greatest thing about it is we know each other enough that we can kind of push each other a little bit to get better.”
Wagner took it one step further.
“I actually catch myself rooting for the offense sometimes, which I probably shouldn’t do,” he joked. “But it’s great to have a person that you know well and he knows you well, so it definitely makes moving here and getting settled here much better.”
Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Wagner was solid in his first action Friday, then played even better Saturday.
Wagner echoed that sentiment, saying he’s more comfortable as Seattle’s potential starting middle linebacker of the future.
“I felt like I understood the plays more,” Wagner said. “I knew what was coming at me. I knew where I had to drop a little bit better because I had time to go out on the field and practice and go back in and look at it over on film.”
The rookie linebacker understands he has a long way to go before he proves himself as a starter. Veteran Barrett Ruud also is expected to compete for that spot when he’s healthy.
“I’m just going to do whatever I can to start,” he said. “I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m going to take my time. We’ve got time.”
Turbin flashed impressive speed in the open field on a couple of occasions Saturday, bursting through the line of scrimmage and leaving defenders grasping at air as he whizzed by them down the sideline.
Turbin also showed his versatility, shaking open on a deep route and hauling in a pass for a 50-yard gain.
Turbin, who said he’s still adjusting, looks forward to practice next week with the veterans.
“When Monday comes around and we get a chance to work with the vets, they’re going to teach us how to do it,” Turbin said. “They’re going to teach us how to be professionals.
“They’re going to teach us how professionals work, and it will be a great learning experience for us rookies.”
Turbin also talked about his running style and how it’s different than Lynch’s.
“I like to think of myself as a balanced back,” Turbin said. “So I can bring the physical tools. I can get downhill, do my best to break tackles and things like that.
“But I think I have enough agility and quickness to make people miss in space. I have a good enough knowledge of the game and I think I’m fast enough to run routes at the slot position and catch the ball out of the backfield on a consistent basis, which helps me be able to play all four downs of the game.”
Running backs coach Sherman Smith said he’s not asking Turbin to be Lynch – but to be physical and get the job done his own way.
“They’re different guys,” Smith said. “It’s interesting. We were watching run cut-ups (highlights) today of Marshawn doing his thing, and I said, ‘This is what we want from you, only we want your version of it. You’re not Marshawn.’
“But you see the physical style that he has, that’s what we want. And that’s what Robert’s going to be.”
DE HOWARD FITS IN
Defensive tackle Jaye Howard, a fourth-round pick, talked about his increased production in his final season at Florida.
Howard went from 29 tackles and 21/2 sacks his junior season to 65 tackles and 51/2 sacks as a senior.
He credited the hiring of former Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn as the Gators’ defensive coordinator and former San Francisco defensive lineman Bryant Young joining as defensive line coach for his increased production.
“Coach Quinn is one of the best coaches I’ve had,” Howard said. “And Bryant Young, he’s a player that I watched growing up. And you’re going to take heed to someone like that. You’re going to listen to what they have to say.”
Howard has played mostly pass-rushing defensive tackle during this weekend’s practices and has been a disruptive force.
Seattle defensive line coach Todd Wash said he expects Howard and seventh-round draft choice Greg Scruggs, a defensive end, to help improve the inside pass rush on third down.
Seattle added four tryout players to the roster, including former Lakes High and Montana tight end Kavario Middleton. The three others are Justin Helwege, a 6-foot-6 receiver out of Central Washington; Mississippi defensive tackle Justin Smith; and Oregon defensive tackle Terrell Turner. … Free agent receiver Phil Bates, a quarterback at the University of Ohio, turned heads with acrobatic catches the past two days. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Bates is raw but has displayed the ability to make tough catches in traffic, and may have done enough to earn a spot on Seattle’s 90-man roster for training email@example.com 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams