Seahawks fans get their first in-person look Saturday against the Minnesota Vikings at what a 7-9 team can do with a lot of available payroll cash, little time time to implement its rewards and even less veteran leadership to help execute the plan.
You might want to practice watching the game through the fingers of one hand.
Nevertheless, as fans sort out whether newcomer Tarvaris Jackson is even the question at quarterback, much less the answer, it will be fun to cast your eyes for a few moments on No. 79 on defense.
He won’t be hard to spot. He’s the 335-pound dude chasing 180-pound receivers in the secondary.
“Imagine a wide receiver seeing that big ol’ guy with him,” said Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, grinning maniacally. “That might get him to hesitate a little.”
Thursday in practice at the VMAC, it was a tight end who was the target of Red Bryant, AKA Deion Sanders Heavy. Dominique Byrd (6-3, 255) took a short pass and moved well upfield, only to be mooshed to the ground by Bryant, 75 pounds his superior, in a drill where tackling is banned to avoid injury.
Hoots erupted across the lawn for the big man downfield, for both the hustle (yay) and the beat-down (boo).
“Red’s antics were up today,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “He was having fun playing football. I think when he tackled Byrd about 25 yards downfield on a full-speed, live tackle, we realized that Red was officially back.
“That came just two plays after he thumped (backup quarterback) Josh Portis in the back on a pass rush. Red’s alive and well. And when you’re cooling Red down, that’s when you like him the most.”
“Cooling Red down” is Carroll’s reference to keeping the big man’s emotions under control and directed. When that happens, the Seahawks have no more influential defender than the fourth-year end from Texas A&M.
His over-enthusiasm on the rush that jolted Portis drew a post-practice admonishment from fullback Michael Robinson, who interrupted an interview to tell Bryant, politely but firmly, to chill when the drill calls for no contact with the QB. Bryant nodded his head a little sheepishly, and the two shook hands.
“It was as close as I’ve come to a quarterback a long time,” Bryant said, smiling. “I got a little excited.”