Here’s the unedited column on Hawks’ minicamp from Saturday — Boling
RENTON _ The Seahawk veterans were dismissed to hit the showers and grab some lunch after Saturday morning’s rainy and cool minicamp practice.
But as the rookies and young players were kept afterward to get extra repetitions in unit drills, defensive linemen Darryl Tapp and Brandon Mebane stayed on the field to help with tips for their new teammates.
Tapp grabbed the jersey of free-agent rookie defensive end Michael Bennett and yanked it around, showing him a trick to employ against tackles.
"Hey, I’m a veteran on this team now, I’ve got to step up and be a leader," Tapp said of his tutorial. "I was in their situation four years ago … I know what they’re going through."
Tapp made an interesting point, one that’s relevant for Seahawk veterans as well as newcomers as they continue to rebuild after a 4-12 season and a coaching changeover: "Honestly, we’re all rookies now."
He was speaking specifically about the defense, since the scheme has been altered somewhat, and the defensive language has been changed significantly.
Really, though, the minicamps are important exposures for everybody to the ways and means of new head coach Jim Mora and his staff.
Some of the changes are small and administrative. In a general sense, the tone and tempo of practices are aggressive and fast-paced.
"All that enthusiasm and energy starts with Coach Mora," Tapp said. "It flows downhill from there."
The rookies always look good at these get-togethers, as they tend to be highly adrenalized in their first exposure to the NFL. And the Hawks’ top two draft picks are impressive.
Aaron Curry, the No. 4 pick in the draft, at 6-2, 254, is 15 pounds heavier than Julian Peterson, the linebacker he replaces.
Curry’s assignment correctness already has impressed the staff, and it’s obvious he’s more physically suited to bringing down the NFC West’s big backs.
In one drill on Saturday, he looked a little tardy getting out to cover a receiver in the flat, but in team drills he proved very capable of taking care of his business.
One time, when the run went the other way, he fought the linebackers’ urge to race to the ball. Instead, he pinched in toward the pile and was in perfect position to stop the ball-carrier’s cutback at the line of scrimmage – a problem on the back-side at times in recent seasons.
At 6-foot-5, Unger looks more like a natural guard than a center. And he actually did a very nice job against Mebane in pass-blocking drills; and Mebane is a chronic nightmare for linemen in these situations.
Among the holdovers, several players seem energized by the new season, as if there’s much to prove.
After an unspectacular rookie season, former first-round defensive end Lawrence Jackson has been noticeable. Saturday morning, he got such a good push on massive tackle Ray Willis in pass drills, the two went to the ground in what might have turned into a tangle if others hadn’t stepped in.
Right guard Rob Sims, who missed 15 games with a torn pectoral last season, looks to be bringing extra pop to every block. Having regained health and strength, Sims might be a major beneficiary of the new blocking scheme.
One of Saturday’s best defensive plays came from cornerback Josh Wilson, a competitive guy who might be especially challenged by the arrival of free-agent corner Ken Lucas.
Lucas has more experience and better size to battle the division’s top receivers, but Wilson looked strong in the morning practice when he climbed on the hip of speedy rookie receiver Deon Butler, rode him stride-for-stride, and then beat him for the ball with a diving interception of a pass from Seneca Wallace.
Defensive tackle Red Bryant, who missed much of his rookie season with injury, shows a knack for slipping blocks and disrupting the offense, and undrafted rookie Devin Moore, a running back from Wyoming, is small (5-9, 191), but has that rare fifth-gear speed.
Overall, it was only a rainy day in May, and a long way from the regular season, but it was interesting to see so many Seahawks – veterans included — going at it as if they were all rookies trying to make good impressions.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440