Seattle Seahawks Leon Washington. The shifty tailback, acquired in a draft-day trade with the Jets, participated in individual drills Tuesday, his first live football action since breaking his leg in the seventh game last season.
While his work was very limited Tuesday, it was a major step forward for Washington, who got to take part in first day of the Seahawks two-day minicamp that will close out the team’s offseason regimen.
“It felt good,” said a smiling Washington, who’ll wear No. 33 for the Seahawks. “All I can say is that it’s a blessing. This was a long time coming. I’ve been looking forward to this day since last October.
“I felt like a little kid playing Pop Warner football again.”
Washington’s return comes after months of intense rehabilitation, including daily work with the Seahawks training staff since being acquired in late April. It also comes at an opportune time, with minicamp ending Wednesday and two backfield regulars — Justin Forsett and Julius Jones — out of town attending to marriage-related events this week.
Following his activity in individual, non-contact drills, Washington watched the remainder of the practice right alongside his teammates, keeping his helmet on for most of the two-hour workout. Washington, who has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his four-year career, said he’ll practice again on Wednesday.
Washington wasn’t alone on the comeback trail. Receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch also participated in limited drill work on Tuesday, a positive sign for the team as it heads toward training camp, Coach Pete Carroll said. All three are expected to be full go for training camp at the end of July.
“It’s great to see these guys get back in so we have a feel for them heading into camp,” Carroll said.
CARLSON ON A ROLL
Besides being an outstanding blocker in the rushing game, the third-year tight end also showed his versatility in the passing game, as he caught balls all over the field — deep and short, up and down. During 7-on-7 drills, he had an impressive sliding catch and then in the next period, he flashed his jumping ability on a deep ball when he leaped up over the defensive back to come down with a reception. It all bodes well for Carlson, who’s expected to be a big part of the Seahawks offense under coordinator Jeremy Bates.
Carroll said he’s most impressed with Carlson’s knack for catching the passes near the ground, as he’s got “about 20 different ways he can catch the low balls.” The head coach isn’t shy in his compliments of Carlson, saying he’s one of the best low-ball catchers in the NFL.
That fits in line with the type of offseason Carlson has had, too.
“He’s had a great camp,” Carroll said. “We’re expecting big things from him.”
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Here are some highlights from Tuesday’s practice:
* Safety Earl Thomas recorded a great pass defense on a deep ball to Mike Williams, a play that drew high praise from Coach Pete Carroll following the sequence.
* Cornerback Josh Wilson turned in an excellent pass breakup on a short bullet pass in the flat during 7-on-7 drills.
* Matt Hasselbeck connected with tight end Chris Baker in the back of the end zone for a short touchdown during team period.
* During team drills, safety Jamar Adams had an athletic one-handed interception in the back of the end zone.
* Also during full-team red zone work, linebacker Anthony Heygood snagged a pick on a tipped pass at the goal line.
* Wideout Isaiah Stanback ran a perfect fade route to catch a beautiful throw from J.P. Losman.
* On the final play of the day, Hasselbeck placed an exceptional throw into wideout Golden Tate, who boxed out the cornerback for the touchdown.
MISSING IN ACTION
While several players made their way back onto the practice field Tuesday, a trio of Seahawks were out during the voluntary minicamp.
Linebacker Lofa Tatupu was present but sidelined with a minor hamstring injury, Carroll said. Tailbacks Justin Forsett (wedding) and Julius Jones (renewing marriage vows) were absent and will miss the two-day minicamp.
For the first time in a long time, the sun was shining brightly on Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Temperatures were in the mid-60s but the sunshine made it feel closer to 80 as the Seahawks glided around the immaculately green grass to kick off their third and final minicamp of the offseason.
“It’s always sunny here, it’s awesome, I don’t know why everybody’s griping,” Carroll joked to a chorus of laughter from the members of the media following the workout.
YOU DON’T SAY, PART I
“He makes things happen — that’s what special guys do. He reminds you why he’s special.” – Pete Carroll, on wideout Golden Tate
YOU DON’T SAY, PART II
“I’m hoping that’ll be a famous relationship.” – Pete Carroll, on the Ben Hamilton-Russell Okung dynamic on the left side of the offensive line.