Corbin Smith

Early Observations From Seahawks Training Camp

Created on Jul. 28, 2014 5:59 PM EST

It's only been three practices thus far, but the Seattle Seahawks have officially started working towards repeating as Super Bowl champions. And while there have been plenty of moments where players have shown rust, it appears this team is ready to move forward with a huge target on its back. Every other team wants to experience what the Seahawks did last February, but head coach Pete Carroll says his team has put last year's "run behind them" and that he believes they'll be ready to take on this next challenge defending the crown.

Here's a look at some of my top developments from Seattle's first three days of camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Complex:

1. Seattle's 2014 draft class has drawn raving reviews thus far.
Unlike last year's draft class, this year's group of rookies has a chance to make instant contributions for the Seahawks. This has been most apparent at wide receiver, where the team's two newest additions have earned praise from the staff. Despite missing the past two days of practices with a foot injury, receiver Kevin Norwood stood out last Friday making several outstanding leaping grabs along the sideline. Speedy second round choice Paul Richardson has dropped a few passes, but he's also shown he's more than a mere deep threat, displaying great ability as an open-field runner after the catch.

Up front, a shoulder injury to Michael Bowie has allowed former Missouri standout Justin Britt to see all of the first team repetitions at right tackle. It hasn't been smooth sailing for Britt in pass protection, as he has struggled somewhat blocking pass rushers off the snap so far. He looks much more polished as a run blocker, however, as he has helped pave the way for multiple big plays out of the run game in practice. Given time, he will improve as he adjusts to blocking NFL-caliber pass rushers.

“What we’re thrilled to see in Justin is he’s got a great approach," Carroll said, adding, "He’s tough. He’s smart. He’s diligent. He’s flexible enough that he looks like he can learn and do the things that we want to do."

Defensively, Cassius Marsh has stood out as a monster at defensive end and the coaching staff is "real happy" about his early performance. He's much more explosive than I initially expected, and that will add greatly to his value. I expected he would be a player who would need to bulk up more to develop into a defensive tackle at the pro level, but his quick first step and aggressive mindset will suit him well as player who can play anywhere along the defensive line.

2. Less is more? Percy Harvin looks dynamic with extra rest.
After landing Harvin for a first and third round pick in March 2013, the elusive receiver/kick return specialist played in only one regular season game in his first season with Seattle following hip surgery. Coach Carroll hinted that the team would try to create a special plan to help Harvin stay healthy this season, and they intend to keep him fresh by having him practice every other day during training camp. Based on how he practiced Friday and Sunday, the team might be onto something.

When addressing Harvin's workout schedule, Carroll said, “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.”

While Norwood and Richardson impressed from the outset, Harvin also has looked fantastic during the opening stages of camp, clearly running faster than any other player on the team and hauling in several impressive receptions along the way. He spoke about how he changed his offseason program completely this spring and made a greater emphasis on nutrition and strength training. He's been able to keep his weight around 190 pounds consistently, and if he's able to sustain that weight, he should be better equip to handle the grind of an NFL season. Seattle can only hope that the current regimen continues to work and he can stay on the field for 16 games in 2014.

3. "Beast Mode" continues to hold out. How long will it last?
While Seattle's young core has looked quite impressive on the field, much of the talk away from the gridiron has revolved around running back Marshawn Lynch's decision to holdout for a new contract. The Seahawks have remained adamant that they won't give the Pro Bowl talent a new contract, and the longer the 28 year old Lynch holds out, the greater amount of money he will lose.

As ESPN's Terry Blount noted while addressing the NFL's current collective bargaining agreement, once Lynch misses his sixth day of camp, he will be subject to lose 15% of his signing bonus. In his case, that would be $900,000 with an additional $60,000 per additional day that he stays absent from camp. If he decided to continue following through with his holdout over the next few weeks, he could end up losing a total of $1.5 million out of his initial $6 million signing bonus.

From a financial standpoint, it makes little sense for him to keep holding out when he's already among the league's top five paid running backs. The Seahawks still have all the leverage in this situation, and the team won't be handing out new money to satisfy him. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael have performed well so far in his absence, and while neither will be compared to Lynch, the team has enough talent to win without him if he chooses to continue his protest.

I expect Lynch to show up on Tuesday to avoid losing big bucks from his signing bonus, and with him back in town, maybe he can find a way to negotiate with the front office to restructure his current deal for more guaranteed money. But if he truly believes the team will start fresh and pay him more, that simply won't happen.

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