Russell Okung. The big news, of course, was having the team’s top draft choice on the field for the first time in camp after the left tackle from Oklahoma State signed a six-year contract.
How big? Six foot 6, 310 pounds big. But getting Okung back where he belongs – and the team needs him – was even bigger in the less-physical sense. The Seahawks selected him with the sixth pick in April’s NFL draft to solidify the spot where four different players started last season.
Okung got most of his work in the full-pads practice with the No. 2 line, and he also was spotted in with the No. 1 line a couple of times.
“It’s done with now. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want it in my head,” Okung said when asked to describe what the past week has been like. “I’m out here. I’m on the grass and I’m happy to be here.”
Okung is now in what coach Pete Carroll labeled “round-the-clock” catch-up mode to compensate for missing the first six days and eight practices of camp.
“I’m thrilled to finally get him here,” Carroll said.
We’ll have a lot more on Okung later.
Thursday, Leon Washington got his first rep in full-team drills. Today, that was expanded to a dozen, and the running back the Seahawks obtained in a draft-day trade with the New England Jets flashed his considerable talents on the shore of Lake Washington.
Washington threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Carlson, picked up blitzing strong safety Lawyer Milloy on another play and then darted around a defender with a quick stutter move after taking a short pass from Matt Hasselbeck.
“I love it. I miss it,” Washington said of finally getting some contact. “I’ve been kind of seeing it over the last few weeks.”
As for the versatility of his effort, he offered, “Whatever I can do to help this team win games, that’s what I’m all about: Help this team win football games.”
Washington’s reps will continued to be monitored, however, as he continues the final stages of his recovery from a severely broken right leg that ended his 2009 season.
“We’ll see him continue to progress, and now he’s expected to enter the competition at the running back spot in a major way,” Carroll said. “We just go very patient with him. We’ve been patient up to now. I’ve been waiting for him.”
NOTHING BUT THE TRUF
Marcus Trufant has rediscovered his game after an injury-delayed/plagued 2009 season. The proof was in his performance this afternoon, as the Pro Bowl cornerback intercepted a pair of passes.
On the first, Trufant was running stride-for-stride across the field with rookie wide receiver Golden Tate. Trufant then tipped the pass from Charlie Whitehurst before gathering it in with two hands. On the second, Trufant again picked off Whitehurst on a third-and-20 play.
After all that, Carroll had Trufant break the team down after practice.
“It was great for him,” Carroll said. “It’s fun for him. He’s excited. He’s breaking down the team afterwards. He deserved it because he made the big plays today.
“To get those turnovers in critical situations was great … and Tru finished it off in championship fashion.”
ONE FINAL FLING
As practice ended with Hasselbeck taking a knee on the final play, the QB got up and lofted the ball into the crowd of fans sitting on the berm adjacent to the practice field.
Linebacker Anthony Heygood, who tore his left Achilles at the start of practice Thursday, was waived/injured to clear a roster spot for Okung.
Left guard Ben Hamilton, tackle Ray Willis, cornerback Walter Thurmond and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh were back after being given the Thursday afternoon practice off.
Still sidelined: linebackers Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and Joe Pawelek; defensive linemen Lawrence Jackson and Kevin Vickerson; safety Kam Chancellor; and running back Louis Rankin. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane also sat out.
Carroll said Curry could return to practice by Tuesday or Wednesday. He has been sidelined because of lingering headaches after a collision in the practice Saturday afternoon.
“He’s back into all the walkthroughs and all the preparation stuff he can get done,” Carroll said. “We have time, so hopefully we’re going to make the right decision by utilizing that time.”
Vickerson (leg) and Jackson (hamstring) are listed as day-to-day, Carroll said, while Chancellor’s hip issue could sideline him longer.
The Seahawks will practice twice Saturday, at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The afternoon session is “sold out,” and a crowd in excess of 2,000 also is expected for the morning practice.
Sunday, the team will practice at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium starting at 1:30 p.m. Admission and parking is free.
After Saturday, there are only five more practices at VMAC that are open to the public – two Tuesday, at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and single practices at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday of next week, as well as Aug. 16. You can register to attend practice here.
THE “IN” CROWD
Today’s practice attracted 1,810 fans, bringing the total for the first eight practices that have been open to the public to 12,244.
YOU DON’T SAY
“We’ll just see what happens. There’s no rush. I don’t care which way it goes, and I don’t care when we figure it out. We’ve got some guys who are really battling.” – Carroll, on the increased competition at running back now that Washington is in the mix and Quinton Ganther continues to be what Carroll called “the best surprise of it.”