The NFL preseason has begun, but before diving right into the action, it’s time for a final evaluation of Seattle Seahawks training camp. Specifically, I aim to highlight three winners and three losers from the past couple weeks.
Winner #1: Phil Bates
Bates is a third year man out of Ohio University who has been a breakout player throughout training camp. His June altercation with Richard Sherman, which never should have made news in the first place, is a very distant memory now in light of all his production in camp.
Bates played quarterback in three out of his four years at Ohio University, but a shoulder injury forced a move to receiver. With only one year of college ball at the position, Bates went understandably undrafted, and the Seahawks were eventually the one and only team to inquire about him. He has spent the last two years on the Seahawks’ practice squad, slowly building up his body to look more like a wideout in addition to learning the intricacies of the position. His work this summer has impressed his coaches and teammates alike, including Russell Wilson.
“He’s got great speed, great hands,’’ Wilson told The Seattle Times. “He’s got paws. I mean, I’ve got huge hands. He’s got really big hands as well, and he just catches the ball extremely well.”
His explosion in training camp has made guys like Wilson compare Bates to Jermaine Kearse, which is high
praise given Kearse’s solid season last year. Couple that with Kevin Norwood’s nagging injury that will keep him out indefinitely and Paul Richardson‘s inconsistent hands and Bates might be looking at a spot on the 53-man roster.
Winner #2: K.J. Wright
He may not have the contract extension I wanted him to receive this offseason, but Wright went into camp and demonstrated why he would be deserving of a long-term deal. Most of the other starting linebackers from last year, like Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith, have been injured, so the spotlight at the linebacker position was already on Wright. As camp went on, Wright made sure the spotlight never left him. The outside linebacker dominated in coverage during camp, grabbing interceptions off both Russell Wilson and Terrelle Pryor. His coverage skills will continue to shine during the 2014 season, and when the season is finished, I will be praying Seattle locks him up for years to come.
Winner #3: Caylin Hauptmann
Hauptmann is a guard out of Florida International whom the Seattle Seahawks acquired after he was waived last September by the Browns. He got a shot with the first team in training camp when James Carpenter, who had been performing very well, went down with a calf injury. Hauptmann has stepped in for Carpenter at left guard and has made a convincing argument to be the backup left guard this season. Hauptmann is relatively unknown now, but that may not be the case later this year.
Loser #1: Kevin Norwood
Norwood gets a loser classification only by unfortunate circumstances. His foot injury, which was a concern when he was back at Alabama, is continuing to sideline him and allow other receivers to shine. Norwood, noted for his toughness and ability to catch in traffic, is now being treated very cautiously and could miss more time than he would like.
Loser #2: Michael Bowie
Bowie had a legitimate chance to grab a starting right tackle spot, but he came to camp in a less than impressive physical condition and was waived. It was a strong message to the rest of the team about coming to camp out of shape and not ready to play, because Bowie had been a valuable asset last year when Breno Giacomini went down with an injury. Now, he’s out of a job and the Seahawks aren’t shedding any tears about it. The Hawks signed Eric Winston and Wade Smith, who will now compete with Britt. Bowie is a huge training camp loser not just for the Seahawks, but for all of the NFL.
Loser #3: Jesse Williams
Williams is now on IR for the second straight year, and by now the Seahawks’ front office has to be questioning whether Williams will be worth the trouble next year. Both knees are now questionable at best, and his inability to stay healthy has sealed his fate. With Tony McDaniel, Jordan Hill and Kevin Williams behind Brandon Mebane, Williams could be a goner next year.
Got an additional winner or loser in mind? Leave a comment below.