Day Two of the Seahawks’ 2005 training camp began with good news. Mike Reinfeldt, the team’s Vice President of Football Administration, arrived in Cheney having done the heavy lifting in brokering an agreement with linebacker Lofa Tatupu, Seattle’s second-round draft pick from USC. Tatupu could sign his rookie contract as early as Saturday night, which would open up the possibility that he could see action on Sunday. Tatupu will compete with Niko Koutouvides for the starting MLB position – certainly one of the most highly anticipated training camp battles.
Reinfeldt also intimated that negotiations with Mississippi C Chris Spencer are nearing a successful conclusion. “Everything’s good and (Tatupu) should be signed today,” Reinfeldt said. “We’re close on the other guy (Spencer) too.”
The Seahawks also announced the signing of free agent WR Bobby Shaw. Originally drafted by Seattle in 1998, Shaw didn't stick with the Seahawks and went on to play for the Steelers, Jaguars, Bills and Chargers.
Shaw has amassed 197 receptions in his career, totaling 2784 yards, for a 14.1 yards per catch average and 14 TDs. His longest reception was a 90-yarder for Pittsburgh in 2001.
Shaw also has a good history as a punt returner, but Mike Holmgren seemed to see Shaw as another factor in what has become a deep group of receivers. “Bobby was available and we know (him) pretty well,” Holmgren told the team’s official website. “He is a very intelligent football player. He works inside. He is a nice fit to what we do in the passing game. How he fits right now, I couldn’t tell you. He makes that pile of young receivers and then separate (Darrell) Jackson and (Bobby) Engram (as starters).” Reports indicate that Shaw looked comfortable running routes today.
We asked Denis Savage, the publisher of SDBoltReport, Scout.com’s website and magazine devoted to the San Diego Chargers, about Shaw’s chances based on his 2004 season in San Diego. “Shaw was signed by San Diego the same day they added Keenan McCardell. He ended up on the inactive list with the Bolts for all but one game – the finale against Kansas City with the playoff seed wrapped up already,” Savage said. “Shaw was, at best, an injury protection player in San Diego. While he is a veteran presence, he does not offer more than the current wide receiving corps in Seattle. If there is a choice between putting him on the active list and putting a rookie on the game day roster, the rookie should get the nod to gain the experience. If there is a spot on the punt return team, Shaw could be a viable option.”
Most likely, Shaw’s presence allows the team to add midline talent at the position while wide receiver/special teams maven Alex Bannister continues to recover from the broken right clavicle he suffered in a June passing camp. Bannister suffered the same injury last October. Although reported as inactive and “watching” by some news sources, Bannister did participate in conditioning drills with hurdles, as did safety Ken Hamlin (shoulder) and OLB Cornelius Wortham (hamstring). Bannister was also seen doing push-ups, which certainly bodes well for his recovery schedule.
The Seahawks participated in eleven-on-eleven drills on Saturday. As the intensity begins to build and contact becomes a factor, several different “must-see” matchups will take place. Seahawks President Tim Ruskell understands the acceleration of energy. “It was real spirited today,” Ruskell told the team’s official site. “The guys got their legs back and they’re into the tempo of what the coaches want. It just seemed to be a little sharper in both the (morning and afternoon practices). Sure, you’re impatient, you want to see the pads and see guys flying around, but you have to acclimate yourself to the game, and the guys haven’t done that for 7-8 months. And you do have to grow into it. You don’t want injuries. It’s much too long of a season to start losing guys at training camp.”
THREE MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
1. Grant Wistrom vs Walter Jones: Purely from an aesthetic standpoint, this is the Battle Beautiful. What true football fan wouldn’t get geeked to the nines at the opportunity to see this day after day? Wistrom, who has used his severe determination and non-stop motor to become one of the more well-rounded and disruptive edge rushers in the league, facing quite possibly the best left tackle in the game in Jones, whose impeccable technique and brute strength make him almost impossible to get around. This little war should help both players reach their peak as the season gets closer.
2. Andre Dyson vs. Kelly Herndon: Now that Marcus Trufant has moved to the right corner slot, Dyson and Herndon will compete for the other starting job in their preferred area. Early odds have Dyson nabbing the starting role as a pure playmaker, but don’t completely discount Herndon – he may land in the nickel corner position, but with all the nickel sets Seattle’s defense plays, he’ll still see a lot of action this season.
3. Jerheme Urban vs. Everybody Else: This offseason, the Seahawks signed Joe Jurevicius to accentuate their cadre of possession receivers, and Jerome Pathon as a replacement for the jettisoned Koren Robinson as a vertical threat. With Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram coming into camp with starting spots guaranteed (although nobody seems to know whether Engram will play in the slot or split wide), underdog Jerheme Urban is making quite an impression the old-fashioned way…by working his tail off.
Holmgren singled Urban out on Saturday when he spoke to the media, citing the third-year receiver’s admirable progression and ever-improving skill set. If he can show improvement in his ability to separate off the line, don’t discount Urban as a darkhorse starter. At the very least, with both Holmgren and QB Matt Hasselbeck singing his praises, expect to see Urban on the field a great deal in 2005.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.