That is perhaps the case because it is also the first chance the Seahawks have had to become acquainted with new defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.
"I see some
encouraging prospects," Rhodes said of his first look at the Seahawks on the
hoof. "The key thing for us right now is getting a chance to look at our players
and to evaluate what we see at this point, and if there's any additions we need
Rhodes is busily teaching the Seahawks the fundamentals of his
"Honestly, what we're trying to do is put our basic stuff in at
this time," Rhodes said. "We're going to be a multiple defense and run regular
base coverages. We're also going to be aggressive in dogging and blitzing
Rhodes said it is important to maximize the impact of available
talent, which will mean turning loose speedy linebackers Chad Brown and Anthony
"Chad Brown is an excellent blitzer," Rhodes said. "Coming from
Pittsburgh, one of the things he had was a lot of sacks because he can blitz
from the linebacker position. I feel like Anthony Simmons can also blitz from
the linebacker position. We're going to get those guys active in bringing
pressure. We're going to run some zone pressures where you might see a lineman
drop occasionally, but I'll be pretty picky about those things because there're
certain people I won't drop."
This minicamp is not only a teaching
exercise, but also the only evaluation period the staff has before the draft.
"A lot of times you look at tape on guys and some guys are not there,"
Rhodes said. "You've got guys who came in here late, guys who are backup players
that haven't played a lot here, and what you try to do is get a chance to
evaluate them first hand. That's what we've been trying to get done this week."
Initially, Rhodes was impressed with the effort and energy of
35-year-old defensive tackle John Randle, who appears healthy and eager to
bounce back from a season in which injuries limited his production.
as the Seahawks head toward the draft, Rhodes would not turn down help at any
When asked where the Hawks would focus, he went down the list
and when he had finished, he had named all three levels of the defense.
"Really, I think at every position we can fill a need," he said. "So we
are going to take a look at all of the positions on defense."
--One high-profile no-show at the
volunteer passing camp was cornerback Shawn Springs.
This is nothing new
for Springs, who has missed off-season camps before.
"I thought he was
coming in," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I left a message for him and he'll have
some great excuse. He'll have something like, 'My dog swallowed my airplane
ticket' or something."
Springs said he had a personal matter to attend
to. This, however, is a contract year for Springs, who enters the final season
of the seven-year deal he signed as a rookie.
--New schedule: The
Seahawks will see some familiar faces this fall.
On Oct. 5, they go to
Green Bay, where both head coach Mike Holmgren and defensive coordinator Ray
Rhodes have served as head coaches.
The two games against San Francisco,
Oct. 12 in Seattle and Dec. 28 on the road, will be a clash of the Hawks against
former head coach Dennis Erickson, now with the 49ers.
The Oct. 26 trip
to Cincinnati could be a meeting against former Seahawk quarterback and local
product Jon Kitna.
The Hawks' only prime time game on the schedule is
the first meeting against the 49ers, which is a Sunday night matchup on ESPN.
--Good thoughts: Seahawks players and coaches at the team's volunteer
passing camp expressed concerns for the son of quarterback Trent Dilfer, who is
hospitalized in California with a virus that attacked his heart.
have been in contact with Trent on a daily basis and it's just a very, very
difficult time," Holmgren said. "For the whole organization, our thoughts and
prayers are with his family."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The thing I stressed for
them is that we have a lot work ahead for us, and we're a long ways away from
where we have to be, and if we continue to work we'll get better as a football
team." -- Defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.
It is not one of the higher profile signings, but it is
terrifically significant to the Seahawks.
With a three-year deal for
$2.58 million, with a $300,000 signing bonus, the Hawks kept free agent fullback
Strong rarely carries or catches the ball, but he's been a
key component of the Seahawks' successful rushing attack for the past nine
The development of Heath Evans as Strong's backup had brought
some doubt into the equation. Initially, the Hawks had tendered a one-year,
$655,000 deal to Strong, but Atlanta made three-year offer that the Hawks
Strong's impact on the field and in the locker room
is evidenced by his twice being voted the winner of the Steve Largent Award by
NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: DT, DE, DBs.
whole defense needs to be bolstered through the draft.
Up front is the
key, though, and the Hawks will likely sort through all the DT candidates as
prospects for their selection, 11th in the first round.
John Randle was
banged up and is aging and will need to be replaced.
The need at the end
position is mostly for a pass rusher. The best pressure has come from linebacker
Chad Brown, who is coming off foot surgery. If a pass-rushing end can be found,
then the Hawks, under new coordinator Ray Rhodes, will be much more flexible.
The need in the secondary is mostly at safety, where free safety Marcus
Robertson has been released, and strong safety Reggie Tongue has performed only
adequately. They're still looking, even after the signing of Damien Robinson.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: OT Walter Jones (tendered at $5.734M).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Jeff
George (brought in for insurance late last season and will likely no longer be
necessary); DE Rich Owens (gave the Hawks some quality play late in the year);
OL Floyd Wedderburn (still valuable depth although he hasn't proven capable of
holding various starting jobs); CB Willie Williams (his timely play has made it
hard for the Seahawks to get rid of him).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE
John Hilliard (tendered at $605,000 with 6th-round pick as compensation); WR
Darrell Jackson (tendered at $1.318M with 1st-round pick as compensation); DT
Cedric Woodard (tendered at $605,000 with 6th-round pick as compensation;
Patriots submitted offer sheet April 4, Seahawks have until April 11 to match).
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: LB Marcus
Bell (RFA; $605,000/1 yr); DE Antonio Cochran (Potential UFA; $10M/4 yrs, $3M
SB; 2003 cap: $1.75M); LS J.P. Darche (RFA; $2.27M/4 yrs, $200,000 SB; 2003 cap:
$500,000); WR Bobby Engram (UFA; $5.6M/4 yrs, $1.3M SB; 2003 cap: $1.025M); LB
Isaiah Kacyvenski (RFA; $605,000/1 yr); LB Anthony Simmons (UFA; $23.75M/5 yrs,
$7.5M SB; 2003 cap: $2.5M); FB Mack Strong (UFA; $2.58M/3 yrs, $300,000 SB); OT
Chris Terry (Potential UFA; $18.1M/5 yrs, $5M SB); WR James Williams (RFA;
$605,000/1 yr); OT Jerry Wunsch (UFA; $1.8M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB).
ACQUIRED: DE Chike Okeafor (UFA 49ers; $4M/2 yrs, $2M SB); S Damien Robinson (FA
Jets; $4M/4 yrs, $500,000 SB; 2003 cap: $655,000); P Rodney Williams (FA; terms
PLAYERS LOST: P Jeff Feagles (UFA; $4.32M/5 yrs, $500,000 SB);
PK Rian Lindell (RFA Bills; did not match offer/$4.2M/4 yrs, $1.25M SB); FS
Marcus Robertson (cut).
MEDICAL WATCH: OG Steve Hutchinson, who missed
most of last season with a broken leg, returned to full action at the team's
volunteer passing camp and appears fully recovered.
Bill Belichick knows that success or failure closest to the ball has a great impact on winning or…