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Originally published May 10, 2013 at 8:08 PM | Page modified May 10, 2013 at 9:30 PM

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Tight end Luke Willson makes impression on first day of Seahawks rookie minicamp

Tight end Luke Willson, a fifth-round draft pick from Rice, was impressive during the first day of the Seahawks' rookie minicamp.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — Luke Willson might not spell his name exactly like Russell Wilson.

Friday, though, Willson tried to duplicate Wilson's feat of a year ago as the Seahawks opened their three-day rookie minicamp.

It was at the first day of rookie minicamp a year ago that Wilson began his meteoric rise from third-round pick to starter, and eventually star. Coach Pete Carroll showed the film of Wilson's practice that day to his coaches before Friday's workout as a reminder of how quickly players can progress.

And then when practice began, it was Willson who made the coaches take notice, several times turning short passes into long gains with a quick burst upfield.

"He jumped out today," Carroll said of Willson, a fifth-round pick from Rice. "He had a very good first day for us."

Nagging injuries limited Willson — a native of Lasalle, Ontario — to just nine catches as a senior in 2012. He appeared to have about that many in Friday's workout.

Given it was just one no-pads workout against other rookies, Carroll wasn't ready to predict a leap for Willson of the type that Wilson made a year ago.

"But that's a good first impression," Carroll said.

Smith to center

Jared Smith, a defensive tackle from New Hampshire the Seahawks took in the seventh round with the thought of switching him to offense, lined up at center Friday. He had been listed as a guard.

Carroll said he hopes Smith can make the same kind of transition that J.R. Sweezy did. Sweezy was also a college defensive lineman, switched to offense by the Seahawks.

"We put him right there at the start to take a look and see if we can utilize his quickness," Carroll said. "He's really quick for the offensive side of the ball and he's got to learn a lot anyway, so stick him in there and make him snap it, and he did just fine today for the first time out."

Sherman takes it in

Cornerback Richard Sherman Tweeted early Friday he intended to ride up Lake Washington on his jet ski and try to get a look at practice.

True to his word, about halfway through the practice, spectators heard a buzz on the water, and there was Sherman. Photographers hurried to shoot pictures as Sherman sat on his ski, tweeting it to the world.

"Was that Sherm? Cool," Carroll said. "I was surprised there weren't more guys. You might not have noticed it but I think Russell was up in the hill up there peeking over the top wanting to know what was going on."

NOTES

• Carroll explained that defensive end Greg Scruggs, likely out for the season with an ACL tear in his right knee that was revealed Thursday, was hurt in an individual conditioning drill. "He stumbled coming out of a bag drill," Carroll said. "He was doing bags and stumbled and tried to catch himself and hyperextended his knee ... just a drill by himself and unfortunate that he hit just exactly wrong."

• Among players getting tryouts were former UW center Drew Schaefer and WR Justin Veltung of Idaho, a Puyallup native.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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