Matt Hasselbeck. Coach Pete Carroll ended the first full-pads practice of camp with a “move the ball” period, and Hasselbeck did just that.
The Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback was 5 of 6 while directing the No. 1 offense to the only touchdown that was scored during the drill – and it was his 28-yard pass to second-year wide receiver Deon Butler that got the ball into the end zone.
“The No. 1’s had excellent tempo,” offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said. “That was impressive. They were in and out (of the huddle). It was good to see Deion (Branch) and T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) out there. The offensive line did a good job. We’ve got something to build on.”
With Hasselbeck wielding the largest hammer. His only incompletion came when he threw the ball away while being pressured by defensive end Chris Clemmons. Before and after that throw, Hasselbeck was on target – hitting Branch for 9 yards and Houshmandzadeh for 16; then going to Houshmandzadeh for 5 yards; and finally finishing it off with completions of 13 and 28 yards to Butler.
“Matt did a really nice job with tempo and utilized a lot of guys,” Carroll said. “It was good first work with them getting out there on the field by themselves without the coaches screaming at them all the time.
“It worked out very well for the first time out.”
All eyes were on free safety Earl Thomas, of course, after the just-signed first-round draft choice practiced for the first time in camp. But the nod goes to linebacker Joe Pawelek.
If the name isn’t familiar, it’s understandable. At a position where the team is loaded, the free agent from Baylor is battling what they call long odds.
But this afternoon, with Aaron Curry sitting out because of a headache and Matt McCoy limited after having a fingernail torn off in the morning practice Saturday, Pawelek not only got more opportunities, he made the most of them.
“Having a couple guys go down made me get in there and get reps – which, more than anything, is the best way to learn,” the 6-foot-2, 237-pound middle linebacker said. “You can do so much film study and so much looking at the playbook, but until things are flying at you it just isn’t the same.”
In a down-and-distance drill, Pawelek used nice reads and even better reactions to get to running backs Justin Forsett and Quinton Ganther before they could really get going. In the final drill, Pawelek tipped away a J.P. Losman pass that was intended for wide receiver Isaiah Stanback.
“He had a better day today,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “It’s just a learning process for him. We’ve installed a lot and he’s trying to figure out how to do some things. But he did a nice job, and it was good to see.”
Pawelek definitely agrees with that assessment.
“From pre-snap to the snap of the ball, I’ve got the basics down,” he said. “But then all the intricacies of the defense I’m still learning on the fly.”
This afternoon, he was flying in the right direction.
Offensive line. With first-round draft choice Russell Okung unsigned, Ray Willis continues to work at left tackle with a No. 1 unit that also includes left guard Ben Hamilton, center Chris Spencer, right guard Max Unger and right tackle Sean Locklear.
The No. 2 unit is comprised of – from left tackle to right – Mansfield Wrotto, Mitch Erickson, Steve Vallos, Mike Gibson and Joe Toledo. In the third unit are Jacob Phillips, Erickson, Jeff Byers, Adrian Martinez and Toledo.
Those combinations will change, however, when Okung reports and just-signed Chester Pitts is ready to practice.
Linebacker Aaron Curry did not practice after he was “dinged” as coach Pete Carroll put it. Curry was suffering some headaches and got the day off. So did Jameson Konz, Seattle’s rookie tight end. Both watched practice.
Fullback Owen Schmitt was back in practice, returning after he began training camp on the physicall unable to perform (PUP) list on Saturday because of an elbow infection.
The first-string defense looked like this during Sunday’s practice: DE Chris Clemons, DT Brandon Mebane, DT Colin Cole, DE Red Bryant; LB David Hawthorne, LB Lofa Tatupu, LB Will Herring; LCB Marcus Trufant, S Earl Thomas, SS Lawyer Milloy, RCB Kelly Jennings.
It didn’t take Thomas long to make an impact. During a seven-on-seven drill, he showed off the range that has coaches so excited, breaking up a pass intended for TE John Carlson.
Earlier in the practice, Thomas had a great diving catch on a ball thrown by Charlie Whitehurst. It drew an audible reaction from the crowd. So did Matt Hasselbeck’s perfectly placed pass to Deon Butler, who got behind Kelly Jennings.
Practice concluded with a scrimmage, which was highlighted by Hasselbeck’s touchdown pass to Butler against the No. 1 defense.
“It’s good first work,” coach Pete Carroll said of the scrimmage. “They’re getting out there on the field themselves without the coaches screaming at them all the time. I thought it was an opportunity really to show the players how far along we are, that we can go out and run plays on our own and communicate through our headsets and the whole thing. It’s Day 2, and the guys did a nice job with it.”