Bill Belichick knows that success or failure closest to the ball has a great impact on winning or…
Team Notes: Seattle Seahawks
"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 to make."
Rhodes is busily teaching the Seahawks the fundamentals of his defense.
"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 people."
Rhodes said it is important to maximize the impact of available talent, which will mean turning loose speedy linebackers Chad Brown and Anthony Simmons.
"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.
But as the Seahawks head toward the draft, Rhodes would not turn down help at any position.
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.
"We 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 Mack Strong.
Strong rarely carries or catches the ball, but he's been a key component of the Seahawks' successful rushing attack for the past nine seasons.
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 ultimately matched.
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 his teammates.
NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: DT, DE, DBs.
OK, the 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).
PLAYERS 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 unknown).
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.
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