In the news:
Seahawks enter minicamp looking for progress in key issues
Seattle’s three days of workouts this week will be the last before training camp
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — The Seahawks hit the field one last time for a three-day minicamp beginning Tuesday before taking a summer break.
When they return in late July for training camp, they will begin a season that will be greeted with expectations as high as any in team history.
Here’s a look at a few key issues facing the Seahawks as they gather this week:
• Continuing to tweak the offense: Coach Pete Carroll said after organized training activities ended last week that the Seahawks were finished installing some of the newer aspects of the offense that are designed to emphasize the running skills of quarterback Russell Wilson. The minicamp will be spent polishing those changes.
“We’ve gone on with our scheme and the things we are asking guys to do on the perimeter — blocking, the runs by the quarterback,’’ Carroll said. “All that kind of stuff has all grown and we will see how that all fits together. We are very pleased at this time that we found out some answers that we weren’t sure (we’d have) at this point. We’ve got to get to camp, too, but we’ve had a lot of progress.’’
• Identifying backup linebackers: The Seahawks have shifted the roles of K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith, moving Wright to the weak side and Smith to the strong side, with Bobby Wagner remaining in the middle. Backup spots, though, are less defined.
“The backup competition at linebacker is really an issue,’’ Carroll said. “We have to figure out how that’s going to work out. I don’t know right now. Allen Bradford is a guy we’re really curious to see. Korey Toomer had a very good OTA session out here. He probably has improved more than anybody. He had a long ways to come. He missed a ton of work last year and was new to his position. But he’s playing fast. He’s playing with the confidence that shows his ability is something to deal with now. He’s a very good edge football player, but he’s very inexperienced also. We need to see how far he’s come, but the signs are great. That’s still where the biggest question marks are, what’s going to happen there?’’
• Experimenting with Bruce Irvin at strongside linebacker: Irvin’s suspension for the first four games for using performance-enhancing drugs has understandably gotten a lot of attention. Getting a little less is that the team is using the 6-foot-3, 248-pounder some at strongside linebacker, a move Carroll said he likes so far.
“He looks very comfortable,’’ Carroll said. “He looks absolutely natural at doing it. His body type is the 3-4 outside backer guy like (Chris Clemons) and like Cliff (Avril). Those guys are all the same in that regard. At this point he understands the position, he can cover, he’s coming off the edge like lightning. It’s just a matter of how he demonstrates his savvy once he starts playing the game. ... Unfortunately he’s going to miss some time, but that preseason will be hugely important for him to show how far he’s come.”
• Continuing to develop a backup tight end: The loss of Anthony McCoy for the season means fifth-round draft choice Luke Willson and second-year player Sean McGrath are battling it out for the backup spot behind Zach Miller.
The good news is Carroll seemed pleased with the play of each during the workouts last week.
“Sean had a really good offseason,’’ Carroll said. “He’s stronger and quicker than he’s been. That’s one guy that jumps out. He makes that tight end group very competitive. Luke had a very, very good OTA. He really did. I’m hoping he’ll finish up (this) week with a couple days. Made a great catch (Thursday) and continues to show the speed that makes him different than some of the other guys. That position group is in good shape.”
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.