It will be interesting to watch practice today to see what Carroll’s approach is to giving young guys more opportunities with the first units while resting some veterans. It seems logical that it might be an insight into which players are closest to threatening for more playing time.
He mentioned that Charlie Whitehurst will get more snaps in practice, although he made it clear it is not to be interpreted as a vote of no-confidence in Matt Hasselbeck. He labeled this approach as a bye-week see-where-he-is opportunity. Although there have been a number of factors involved, Hasselbeck has been less than convincing much of the season. It seems that he, too, could use the extra work. Carroll said that even third-quarterback Zac Robinson will see more action in practice.
When I asked if he was going to go with anything that looked like JV scrimmages this week, he said it was more calculated than that. He gave Kam Chancellor as a specific example of what he was doing this week. Chancellor will be getting snaps while Lawyer Milloy takes a breather. Chancellor is an interesting player because of his size (6-3, 232) and athleticism. He’s also backing up a 36-year-old starter. Carroll has shown a willingness to find niche roles for certain hybrid players, those he says have “unique” skills, and I wonder if their longer look at Chancellor shows they’re intrigued by what he might be able to offer as more than just Milloy’s understudy.
A number of offensive linemen will be getting looks, too. Left guard Ben Hamilton will be getting time off, and we may expect Sean Locklear to be lightly used, too. Not only will newly resigned Chester Pitts get another look-see, but recently signed Allen Barbre and Breno Giacomini should get more action.
As Carroll described his goals for the week, he said that pretty much everything was going to be reviewed by the staff, including schemes. A giant weakness: The inability to drive the football. Their scoring at home has been propped up by turnovers and special teams play, the sort of thing they don’t get on the road, and compensates for offensive production. The commitment, still, is to build it all from the rushing attack.
I found it interesting that when asked about Brandon Stokley, he offered some scheme plans, saying he could envision using Stokley and Deion Branch as slots on opposite sides on third downs. Quick routes to receivers who can find openings would mean that Hasselbeck wouldn’t require as much time to get off passes.
Practice is at 1:45 today, with the locker room open after that. I’ll get back to you.