Seahawks Close Out Minicamp

If a theme arose from the Seahawks' eight-practice June minicamp, it was one of challenge. Coach Mike Holmgren announced from the start that some positions were open for the taking, and in the process he and the staff threw enough new schemes and packages at the team that they would be challenged to absorb it all before training camp starts at the end of July.

"I was very pleased with camp," Holmgren said. "We installed a lot of new things and as it went along I saw improvement and we got better at it."

The changes were designed to give the offense a varied look, but also to let the players know that "it is not just business as usual."

"If it is the same ol' same ol', sometimes they are just going through the motions and I didn't want them to do that," Holmgren said. "Then I thought adding some things to our repertoire is healthy. It helps us. We are going to go in and we are going to meet about the things we put in. Some of the stuff we will stay with and some of the stuff we will throw out because it wasn't as good as I thought. We did that a little bit more this year than we have in the past."

Because of injuries and absences, the Seahawks were unable to definitively answer certain questions, particularly how the offensive line will come together after a season when the unit performed below the level of expectations set in previous years. The battle for the right guard and tackle spots were inconclusive because Chris Gray missed a week, Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack needed surgery on both knees, and Ray Willis broke a finger on his left hand and also had to divide his time among several positions.

"All in all, it was a good camp," Holmgren said. "I won't see them for about five weeks. Two things they must do: One, I encouraged them to go do something fun and get away from the coaches and get away from football just a little bit and recharge the batteries. But at the same time physically they must maintain their strength and continue their workouts so that when we report to camp in July they are raring to go for a long season."

Rookie to Watch: Josh Wilson -- Second-round draft pick Josh Wilson, a cornerback out of Maryland, looked the most field-ready among the rookies. Wilson is expected to see action in the nickel package, if not actually threaten starters Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings for playing time. Wilson showed good closing speed during camp, but he was still taught a few lessons by the Seahawks' veteran receivers.

"He does some things really well and there are other things right now that you can tell the coaches are asking him to change the technique," quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "His natural ability is great. Right now where we are getting him a little bit is when we get him against a Bobby Engram or a veteran guy where he is using his savvy and his experience to get open. That will come with time. He is working hard and obviously he is being well coached. We need him to play this year. We need him to play well."

Sudden Impact:
Patrick Kerney -- Of the new acquisitions, defensive end Patrick Kerney might be expected to supply the biggest boost. But Kerney missed training camp while rehabbing surgery on a pectoral muscle. At this point, safety Deon Grant has taken over a leadership role in the secondary.

But the one new face that should make the biggest change in the Seahawks is assistant head coach/secondary coach Jim Mora, late of the Atlanta Falcons. Mora has helped add some packages to the defense, and gives the Hawks three staffers on that side of the ball with experience as defensive coordinator (John Marshall, Ray Rhodes and Mora).

TRAINING CAMP IS NEXT

--The Seahawks had planned to spend a final year at training camp in Cheney on the campus of Eastern Washington University, but when the preseason game in China was announced, it forced the Hawks to plan for training camp at their Kirkland headquarters. Once the China trip was aborted by the NFL, the Hawks were left with no choice but the continue with the plans to stay in Kirkland on the campus of Northwest University.

"They are staying here," Holmgren said. "We're not calling it 'Holmgren's Happy Vacationland.' It is training camp. We are going to have coaches on campus every night. I am going to stay here. I have to do what I do because that is what I have done for so many years. The players are in the dorm. We will tuck them every night."

--The month between the June minicamp and the start of training camp is the only extended period the coaching staff gets off during the year. "I am going to ride my motorcycle a little bit," Holmgren said of his plans. "On 4th of July, we usually have a family reunion in California at my cabin down there. Little things, little trips. (Wife) Kathy is working now so she is messing up our vacation plans. I have to stick around for her."

--Having training camp in western Washington instead of the eastern part of the state doesn't make much difference to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. "The weather is definitely nicer here," Hasselbeck said. "The ground is probably softer. In a way Cheney had its benefits also. There were some nice things about Cheney. Either way it is training camp and it is going to be tough."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you ever needed to know that losing a football game is not the end of the world, it's times like this. This is what reminds you of the things that are really important and what are the things you need to truly value in your life." -- Seahawks fullback Mack Strong on his wife dealing with the deaths of five family members in a recent car accident.

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