He struggled at times, but the talent was evident in watching Terrell Owens take the field for the Seattle Seahawks for the first time.
Owens was one of the last players to emerge from the practice facility this morning. And you could hear some cheers and applause from the 2,000 or so on hand to watch practice when he took the field.
At first glance, Owens looked lighter than I thought he would in person. But, the reports about Owens speed were confirmed when watching him run routes today. He looked smooth and fluid during individual work.
But watching him during one-on-ones against the cornerbacks you could see some of the agility and timing stuff is not there, and that will take some time to develop.
“Obviously I have to get myself back in shape,” Owens said. “Physically I look pretty good, but I have to get my endurance and my legs back under me like I need to sustain a full practice and obviously get in game shape. That’s where I lack my preciseness.”
Owens got the best of Brandon Browner in his first rep, getting off press and creating enough separation to get open on an out route, and tapping his toes just as he went out-of-bounds for the completion.
But the second time around was a different matter, as Browner locked Owens up at the line of scrimmage and eventually flattened him the ground.
The play of the day for Owens was a nice catch on a go route from Matt Flynn. Owens double caught it, and had to go to the ground to secure the catch against rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane, with the crowd roaring its approval after seeing him come up with the ball.
The most interesting thing about practice is that Owens lined up at flanker with the No. 2 unit – behind Sidney Rice – and not at split end, where Golden Tate, Braylon Edwards, Kris Durham and others are competing for the starting spot opposite Rice.
Owens knows all three receivers positions from his time working in the West Coast offense both in San Francisco and Philadelphia, but obviously the team has concerns about Rice staying healthy long term coming off two shoulder surgeries this offseason.
In fact, Seahawks general manager John Schneider has said he’s prefer that Rice not play at all this preseason.
“He’s a playmaker, and that’s what he’s here for,” said Seattle receivers coach Kippy Brown. “And he got the opportunity and made a couple plays. That was positive. He’s still learning. He’s been here a couple days, and he’s got a lot to learn about out offense, adjustments and what have you. But for the first day and he came out and was able to play pretty well.”
Brown said that Owens can play flanker or split end, but for right now he’ll be focusing on the flanker position.
“You’ve got to start some place, but all of our guys can play every position,” Brown said. “So that’s what we’ll work toward.”
Owens had this to say about wearing the No. 10 instead of his more traditional No. 81.
“I look good in 10,” joked Owens. “That’s going to be my number.”
So why No. 10 Terrell?
“Hey man, it was available,” Owens said. “That’s all I can tell you.”
The owner of No. 81, Golden Tate, provided the answer for us.
“He asked me for it, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to give it up,” Tate said. “Me and No. 81 have been through a lot. We’ve been through donut shops and inactives – rock bottom. … So I’m going to be loyal to No. 81.
“It was a tough decision. And I definitely have a lot of respect for a veteran like that. But I just feel like I want to play in the No. 81 for the Seahawks for a long time. So I felt like it was more appropriate for me to go on and hold onto it.”
Flynn said he didn’t think it was a little weird or surreal throwing to Owens in practice for the first time, one of the best receivers to play the game.
“Not really,” he said. “Once you get out there, and you snap the ball and you’re going against the defense, you just see a helmet running out there. It’s not that you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is T.O., or whatever.’ It’s get out there, and you see a receiver and getting open.”
Flynn in rhythm with starters
Matt Flynn did not take long to assert himself with the starters, throwing with rhythm and accuracy in his reps with the first unit.
Flynn had two, nice throws to Golden Tate on deep routes, and another touchdown throw to Tate on a post corner to the back of the end zone during red zone drill.
Flynn also used his tight end well, completing a couple nice throws to Cameron Morrah on seam routes, and finding Zach Miller a couple times on play action passes.
Overall, it was a pretty impressive performance for Flynn, and will go a long way in his effort to win the starting job.
“It felt good today,” Flynn said. “Like I said, it’s good to get out there and get into a rhythm and going with the same group of guys. It was nice. It felt like it was a game situation and we had good chemistry.”
Flynn also complimented Tate on his play today, and said Seattle’s receiving group reminds him of Green Bay’s receiver group when he first arrived there five years ago.
“I see a lot of the things here that I saw in Green Bay when I first go there,” Flynn said. “And it’s exciting for me, and as a quarterback because I’m only as good as the people around me.”
Of course, I don’t want to go all Allen Iverson on you – but it is just practice.
LB Allen Bradford (hamstring), WR Doug Baldwin (hamstring), WR Ricardo Lockette (hamstring), DE Alan Branch (leg) and WR Kellen Winslow (knee), LB Matt McCoy (knee), LB Jameson Konz (shoulder) did not practice today. CB Walter Thurmond (leg) and OL James Carpenter (knee) remain on the PUP list. TE Anthony McCoy returned to practice today.