Although Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander switched roles in attendance at the first day of the Seahawks’ minicamp, there was little register on the Surprise-O-Meter.
Jones, who had been franchised every year from 2002-2004 by the team and held out until preseason every time, was present and accounted for after signing a 7-year, $52.5 million deal in the offseason that included a $16 million signing bonus. Coach Mike Holmgren was obviously happy to have the big man in camp again. “He has played very, very well without training camp, that’s been documented,” Holmgren said of Jones. “I have always said it wasn’t so much about Walt as it was about the other guys, Pork Chop (Womack) and (Sean) Locklear. The guys we can stick in their positions now and let them practice. Walt loves the game and he is a great athlete and he practices the same way all the time. He likes being around these guys; that offensive line is a pretty close-knit unit.”
Alexander, who led the NFC in rushing yards in 2004 with 1696, had told Holmgren that he would not be in camp – having been designated the Seahawks’ new franchise player on February 22, Alexander has not signed the one-year tender that would pay him $6.3 million. When asked if he expects to see Alexander at all over the weekend, Holmgren was succinct. "Not to my knowledge. Unless he changes his mind or comes in and signs the tender,” he said.
The surprise may have been that Jones’ presence was not the big story – the media crush on Friday, which resembled a compact version of the Japanese press population that followed Ichiro-mania around Seattle in 2001 was unquestionably the Canadian contingent in Kirkland to observe undrafted free agent Jesse Lumsden. Lumsden rushed for over 1,800 yards in just eight games in 2004 at McMaster University in Ontario. In those eight games, he had six 200-yard rushing games and 4 for over 250 yards. His exploits earned him an invitation to the prestigious East-West Shrine Game, where he led the East team with 41 yards on only five carries.
Lumsden was also a dangerous special-teamer early in his career when he averaged over 35 yards per kickoff return during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. And it is on special teams where he might get a shot with the Seahawks.
When asked about Lumsden and what the Seahawks see in him, Holmgren detailed Lumsden’s versatility. “First of all, I think he is a very fine athlete,” Holmgren said. “The things we do scheme-wise kind of fit with what I think he can do. I think he is a pretty good pass receiver. He is a good runner. We’ll just see. He is really willing, but like all the new guys out there today, they were all kind of spinning around a little bit.”
That is, if double-duty QB Seneca Wallace doesn’t become the team’s new #1 return man.
Wallace, the Seahawks’ fourth-round draft pick in 2003, has seen little time on the field as a signal-caller due to the ascendance of Matt Hasselbeck and the reliability of Trent Dilfer. Although Dilfer was traded to the Cleveland Browns in the offseason, Holmgren is apparently looking for options in which Wallace’s athleticism can pay dividends. So, he spent time today practicing punt returns – according to Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune, Wallace looked fairly impressive in that role. He also completed several deep passes when it came time for him to get his reps at quarterback.
The Seahawks’ 2005 draft picks were all in attendance as well – first-round pick Chris Spencer, the highly regarded center from Mississippi, spent some time snapping the ball to third-rounder David Greene from Georgia. Greene looked a bit off by most accounts, which could most likely be attributed to new surroundings, a rainy day, and the overwhelming task of looking like a pro with little time to digest Seattle's complex playbook.
Seattle's minicamp will run through the May 1st. 26 of 32 NFL teams are conducting camps this weekend.
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