By Danny O’Neil
Jobs are like championships in the NFL in at least one way.
Neither are won in June.
But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything at stake during Seattle’s offseason training program, though, and as those workouts conclude with this week’s three-day mandatory minicamp, it’s an opportunity to pinpoint which players have impressed and which ones still have a ways to go.
I. Littler Mr. Moffitt
A third-round pick in 2011, John Moffitt was installed as a rookie starter before suffering a season-ending knee injury that compromised his offseason preparation a year ago. By the end of last season, Moffitt was sharing time behind J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive tackle who was playing offensive line for the first time since junior high.
Well, Moffitt is in noticeably better shape this year. At least his coach has certainly noticed.
“He’s had a good offseason,” Pete Carroll said of Moffitt. “He’s in the best shape since we’ve had him. He’s in better shape than when he got here. He’s leaner, and I think stronger, than he has been.”
Whether that translates to a starting role remains to be seen, and his competition with Sweezy at right guard is one of the only starting spots that will be up for grabs in August.
II. Catching on
Chris Harper’s role really isn’t a question. At 234 pounds, he is the biggest of Seattle’s receivers and his strength and size were a pair of intriguing calling cards for Carroll, who has had a great deal of success with larger receivers.
But while Harper caught the ball extremely well during the three-day rookie minicamp in May, he hasn’t made the same impact after joining the veterans for workouts. The Seahawks will remain a run-first offense, which means there’s a question as to how they’re going to spread the ball among receivers Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. There’s no doubt about Harper making the team, but he’s got work to do if he’s going to crack the rotation.
III. Simon says, ‘Recover’
Fifth-round pick Tharold Simon is the prototypical Seahawks cornerback, standing 6 feet 2. That length – combined with Simon’s strength – makes him a natural fit for Seattle’s press-man scheme.
But while Simon looks the part, we still haven’t quite seen that yet. Not enough at least since his on-field work has been very limited during the voluntary training sessions because of a bum wheel.
“He came in with an old foot injury that he played with all last year,” Carroll said. “We just want to make sure. It’s kind of a stress-fracture kind of looking thing, but it isn’t that yet. So we just don’t want it to progress.”
Translation: It’s not too bad right now, but it could get worse, so the Seahawks have had him rest.
The question is where that will leave him when training camp begins because cornerback is going to be one of the most competitive spots on the roster. Start with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Then there’s veteran Antoine Winfield and Walter Thurmond, who’s healthy for the first time in two years. That leaves Simon hip deep in a battle to make the roster with second-year player and special-teams mainstay Jeremy Lane as well as Byron Maxwell and Will Blackmon.
Simon can’t afford to be playing catchup in terms of conditioning when training camp opens.
IV. Knee-d to know: Jesse Williams
Maybe it was nothing more than a precaution that rookie Jesse Williams watched last Wednesday’s offseason training activity. Maybe it was just a little soreness in the right knee that was covered in a compression sleeve. Maybe it won’t mean a thing when training camp begins.
But concern over Williams’ knee was the primary reason the defensive tackle from Alabama was available in the fifth round when Seattle chose him. He has as clear of a path to playing time as any rookie on the team if he can hold up. That will be something to watch going forward.
V. Tackle football
You comfortable with rookie Michael Bowie – a seventh-round pick – being one injury away from starting at offensive tackle? Well, how about Michael Person, a seventh-round choice from 2011 who’s now in his third year? One of those two is the backup right now because while Paul McQuistan has played some tackle, he’s at guard right now while James Carpenter recovers from knee surgery.
Frank Omiyale was last year’s backup tackle, but he wasn’t re-signed, which leaves Seattle going with the youth movement. For now.