JOHN CLAYTON

Physical nature of Seahawks’ early practices is needed this season

Aug 5, 2016, 9:44 AM
Seahawks rookie right guard Germain Ifedi did not practice a day after suffering a reported high-an...
Seahawks rookie right guard Germain Ifedi did not practice a day after suffering a reported high-ankle sprain. (AP)
(AP)

Minutes before the start of practice Thursday, an eagle and an osprey got into a flying skirmish above Lake Washington on the banks of the Seahawks’ Renton headquarters. The combatants resumed their battle by a tree.

This was mild compared to some of the fights that have occurred on the practice field during the start of training camp. Earlier in the week, Michael Bennett went at Germain Ifedi and the rookie right guard didn’t back down. On Thursday, Bennett didn’t like something left guard Mark Glowinski or center Justin Britt did to fellow defensive lineman Cliff Avril, and Bennett attacked like an eagle. Bennett had to be escorted away. Coach Pete Carroll booted him from practice.

This is suddenly becoming one of the feistiest camps since Carroll arrived in 2010. Most practices have had some kind of battle. Offensive-line coach Tom Cable is trying to break in a young group against a talented, physical defensive line, and his players aren’t conceding anything.

“The intensity level has been to the sky,” safety Earl Thomas said. “Guys are competing their butts off and are trying to maximize every play. It’s been a battle.”

Carroll loves competitive practices and the Seahawks have made it a habit to compete hard on every play. But there seems to be more intensity this year. It’s understandable. The Seahawks ended last season wanting after being eliminated by Carolina in the divisional round of the playoffs.

It’s been a great offseason for the Seahawks. The starters are signed through at least next year. Players talk about the brotherhood in the locker room and the veteran leaders are doing their best to teach the youngsters to not make mistakes.

But there seems to be more emotion and intensity in this camp.

“The older guys lead from the front and then it starts to be like a factory,” Thomas said.

When you think about it, the Seahawks probably need to have a physical training camp. Let’s not understate the transition that’s taking place with Marshawn Lynch’s retirement. He established the physical presence of the offense. He thrived on punishing those trying to tackle him, and his running style put fear in opposing defenders.

But that fear factor is gone, so the Seahawks have to re-establish something similar with either their offensive line or their defense. It’s probably no accident the Seahawks wanted to get Brandon Browner back in their secondary.

“He’s very physical,” Thomas said of Browner. “He’s also a matchup monster. You put him on the tight ends and big receivers. Getting him back feels right. We started this thing together. He’s an original.”

So it looks like this summer, the Seahawks plan to be physical.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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Physical nature of Seahawks’ early practices is needed this season