Malcolm Smith was all the rage yesterday at practice, his first full one since surgery in the spring to clean out his ankle. His twisting, leaping, one-armed interception was remarkable — even for a Tuesday in August — and that is what I lead with in today’s News Tribune.
–The notebook story details the NFL’s new rules on practice squads, highlighted by them now being 10-man squads instead of eight. Honestly, I’m still working through the permutations of the new rule and trying to apply them to which Seahawks may now be practice-squad eligible that weren’t before Tuesday. Phil Bates immediately comes to mind, but consider this: With the Seahawks getting so heavily scouted in the offseason and at the first two exhibition games by other NFL teams trying to glean knowledge and talent from the Super Bowl champions in this copycat league, many whom Seattle cuts on Aug. 30 may get claimed off waivers and onto other 53-man rosters before the Seahawks could put them onto their practice squad. The list of scouts attending last week’s Chargers-Seahawks exhibition was almost college-Pro Day long.
–Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn praised two of his guys for being particularly impressive, and his words might be a hint of who does and does not make the team at rush end and backup safety. Quinn said O’Brien Schofield, whom the Chargers couldn’t block in the first half last week, “is somebody that stood out to me in training camp and through the first two preseason games. … You can feel when a guy is going for it, and I can with him this year.” Quinn has moved Schofield to the rush “Leo” spot on the edge off the offensive formation’s weak side, and Schofield has thrived in his battle with Benson Mayowa for a job as pass-rush specialist. Last year, after he arrived at the start of Seattle’s training camp upon Arizona cutting him, Schofield played the strong-side “Sam” edge spot with more run responsibilities.
Quinn also praised safety Jeron Johnson, a fourth-year undrafted free agent from Boise State, for his aggressive and dependable play through minicamps and this preseason.
“I know we can count on Jeron,” Quinn said.
–Some well-reader blog posters — you know who you are! — shared this link of Kam Chancellor saying his is all kinds of against fellow safety Earl Thomas being this season’s primary punt returner. We have discussed this here for the last week, and the majority seem to agree that having your All-Pro anchor of the defense’s back half as the target for kamikazes with 40-yard head starts in sprinting and wanting to take his head off is, at best, a risky proposition. At least here, Chancellor agrees, too.
I’m interested to see if Bryan Walters is practicing today in the workout that is just beginning here in Renton. The Ivy League’s career leader in punt returns at Cornell “absolutely” impressed Pete Carroll, the coach said, in last week’s exhibition against San Diego with how fearless he was. But he got banged-up ribs to match his guts, and hasn’t been on the field since. His chance to win the job is Friday against Chicago and the final exhibition Aug. 28 at Oakland, but obviously he has to get back on the field first.
–For those car/truck folks out there interested in the Chevrolet Silverado High Country I mentioned in today’s TNT that Malcolm Smith received for being the Super Bowl MVP, here is a look at him with one. That’s not exactly his; Smith told TMZ in February that he was giving his ride to his mother Audrey, who wanted it customed with “gun-metal (paint) and black rims.” Go, Mom!
–Russell Wilson was on Seattle’s KJR-AM radio this morning. Among other, relatively routine things he said — “Q: What specifically gnaws at you that you want to improve on?” A: “Everything” — Wilson was asked what advice he would give Cleveland Browns rookie QB Johnny “The Finger” Manziel, if Wilson had the chance.
Wilson simply said: “Be professional.”