Monday metatarsal musings: Korey Toomer is having his second impressive spring for the Seahawks, but the third-year linebacker must carry it over to summer and fall after missing his first two NFL seasons with injuries.
Korey Toomer might not be the talk of the town, but the third-year linebacker has been the talk of the team.
And not just any team – the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
“Korey Toomer looks like the hottest guy in camp right now,” coach Pete Carroll told the audience during the Seahawks’ Town Hall at CenturyLink Field two weeks ago. “Korey Toomer has looked fantastic.”
Last week, Carroll added, “He probably has been the brightest guy of the whole camp. Probably has jumped up the most.”
What Toomer displayed during the team’s OTA sessions that concluded last week – when he was making plays coming and going – will be on display again this week as the Seahawks conclude their offseason program with a three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday. And the skills Toomer has been showing are the same as those that first attracted the Seahawks when they selected him in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
It’s just that few outside of Virginia Mason Athletic Center have seen them to this point, as Toomer spent his rookie season on injured reserve after having shoulder surgery and last season on the non-football injury list with a knee problem.
But with Toomer, seeing him has a way of making you believe in him.
“The biggest thing for him, he’s got just really good quickness,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said last week. “It shows up at (strong-side) linebacker when he steps into the flat. It shows up when he’s blitzing, where you can see his initial quickness getting right off the ball.
“That’s the thing that jumps out to me the most about him.”
Quinn’s comments were right on cue, because Toomer has been jumping out on a regular basis. He was all over an incomplete pass to tight end Anthony McCoy in one OTA practice. A few plays later, his pressure forced another incompletion. On another play, on another day, Toomer filled the hole before the back could hit it.
Quinn’s assessment also were a bit repetitive, because Toomer displayed the same skill set last offseason – when Quinn returned to the Seahawks after spending the 2011 and 2012 seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida.
“With Toomer, the athleticism jumps out,” Quinn said last June. “His initial quickness. His speed. Those are the things that jump out.”
And always have. Toomer wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but the Seahawks dispatched linebackers coach Ken Norton to his Pro Day workout at the University of Idaho. And it was worth the trip, as Toomer ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds at 234 pounds and also popped a 42-inch vertical leap and 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump.
“Ken was excited about the workout,” general manager John Schneider said at the time. “He saw that Korey is a great athlete, can run and had a positive attitude about him. It’s a great thing when you have the position coach buy in like that. Ken had a lot of conviction about him.”
And Toomer has been showing that the wait – even a two-season hiatus – might be worth it. He adds depth and talent to a unit that already includes middle linebacker and two-time leading tackler Bobby Wagner; K.J. Wright, who has started at all three linebacker spots and averaged 88 tackles the past two seasons; strong-side ’backer Bruce Irvin, who is recovering from recent hip surgery; Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, who also is sidelined after having foot surgery; special teams standout Heath Farwell, another sideline spectator this spring because of an injury; and Mike Morgan, another versatile linebacker who also is a core special teams player. Then there’s Kevin Pierre-Louis, a fourth-round draft choice this year who also is having an impressive offseason; Mike Taylor, who was added to the practice squad briefly late last season and then signed to a future contract in February; and the rookie free-agent duo of Brock Coyle and Horace Miller.
Play on special teams, of course, has a way of separating players – especially when it comes to linebackers. And last week, Toomer was working on the No. 1 kickoff team.
“His speed is really obvious,” Carroll said last week when asked about Toomer. “He no longer is a rook, not understanding. He’s studied really hard; he’s worked hard in the offseasons. He’s watched so much, he practices just like the guys that are playing all the time.
“He looks like he can compete with all those guys. That’s a lot of ground he’s made up. He doesn’t seem like a rook anymore. He seems like a red-shirt junior kind of right now. So he’s in good shape there to compete.”
Competition is what it’s all about with Carroll, and for Toomer what it’s all about is staying on the field so he can continue to be as impressive during the summer and fall as he has been the past two springs.
“He’s done a fantastic job, for not being able to be on the field,” Carroll said. “We’ve all been impressed with his knowledge of what’s going on and the expectations of it. His effort, the way he’s flying around the field, it shows that he’s been really involved when he has been able to. So he’s gained ground and he’s giving himself a tremendous chance to make the team.”
Korey Toomer looks to continue his maximum efforts at Seahawks’ minicamp.