RENTON – With the starting quarterback job up for grabs, the focus on the first day of training camp for the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday centered more on the way the starter will be selected than the performance of the players involved.
As expected, incumbent Tarvaris Jackson took the opening snaps with the starters. Free agent signee Matt Flynn led the second unit, and rookie Russell Wilson took snaps with the third-stringers.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the team put a rigid timetable in place to make a final decision but that Carroll’s keeping that timeline to himself.
“We have it very well in mind here, and you guys are going to have to dig to try and figure it out, but you won’t be able to,” he said.
Carroll added, pointing to his head: “It’s like a steel trap that’s placed right here.”
Flynn said the quarterbacks can’t get caught up in how the decision shakes out and that he is following Carroll’s “always compete” mantra. All three quarterbacks had their share of highlight throws and plays they’d rather forget about.
“In training camp, it’s most important that you not look ahead,” Flynn said. “Really, you have to take it one day at a time, one slice at a time. Because if you start thinking about the first preseason game or what’s going to happen at the end of training camp, that’s when you start falling into mind traps.”
One thing that was noticeable is Flynn looks more comfortable. The LSU product said the reps during the team’s offseason workouts, along with a six-week break to study the playbook, helped him develop a better command of the offense.
Flynn also reiterated that the version of the West Coast offense he ran in Green Bay is similar to Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s version, making the transition easier.
“Any time you get more time and more reps – more time in the playbook – you’re going to be more comfortable,” Flynn said. “It’s just the way it goes for anybody – any position, any sport. The more you do it, the better you get.”
While the quarterback battle will be a daily storyline to follow during training camp, the one thing that had the 2,000 or so fans who attended practice excited was the play of the defense.
Seattle’s Pro Bowl secondary looked to be in regular-season form, with cornerback Richard Sherman returning a ball thrown by Jackson back for a score, imploring the crowd to make noise as he pranced into the end zone.
Linebacker Mike Morgan corralled an interception off a tipped pass thrown by Flynn; defensive end Chris Clemons stripped rookie running back Robert Turbin of a ball, which was recovered by Sherman; and safety Earl Thomas had an interception slip through his grasp.
Seattle’s defense finished tied for fifth overall in takeaways last season with 31, and the team appears to be establishing that aggressive style of play again.
“Rookies are not rookies anymore,” Clemons said. “They’re all grown now, so everybody is coming out and you’re got to have an attitude going into it now. It’s not the same as the first year.”
Defensive tackle Jason Jones, a free agent signee, said one of the reasons he signed with the Seahawks is the swagger of the defense.
“Seeing what type of defense they had last year – a top-10 defense – was a big factor,” Jones said. “So just coming in and adding my little thing to it, I think we can only get better. We do have a team that’s capable of making the playoffs. We just have to work hard every day.”
Carroll said he hopes Saturday’s practice is a start to what he thinks will be a successful season that results in a postseason berth.
“We have high expectations,” he said. “We want to do a lot. We want to make this team a really sharp football team, and be very, very competitive against anyone that we play, wherever we play them. We aren’t backing off that – that’s just how we feel.”
Marshawn Lynch made national headlines earlier this month after being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in his hometown of Oakland.
The enigmatic running back was in uniform Saturday, but did not talk to reporters. Lynch released a statement through the team last week, apologizing for the incident.
Lynch pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge last week. His next scheduled hearing is Sept. 27.
Carroll said he has been in contact with the league but that he would not speak specifically about the situation.
“Marshawn and I have been on the topic since the first day of it,” Carroll said. “And we’ve had very good communication about it. There’s a process going on that we really can’t even talk about it. But I’m pleased with the way he’s worked with us, so we understand what’s going on.”
Carroll also said that he believes the team can lean on Turbin, this year’s fourth-round draft pick, should Lynch not be available to begin the regular season.
At 5-foot-10 and 222 pounds, Turbin ran for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns on 245 attempts his senior season for Utah State.
“There isn’t any question that he could be (the main running back),” Carroll said. “He had a bunch of carries in school, and if we needed him to play on a regular basis, he’s as physically fit as you could get. He’s used to pounding”
CLEMONS HAPPY WITH DEAL
Clemons said he’s pleased to have the added security of his contract extension, a reported three-year, $21 million deal.
Clemons, who was in the final year of his contract, skipped mandatory minicamp to show his displeasure with his contract situation.
“It doesn’t secure everything,” Clemons said. “But it makes you feel better about how the team feels about you going into this next season, knowing you don’t have to worry about free agency. So I’m pretty happy about that.”
The Seahawks received Clemons and a 2010 fourth-round draft pick in a trade with Philadelphia two years ago for defensive end Darryl Tapp.email@example.com 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams