None of the 67 players the Seahawks listed for the three-day rookie camp this weekend believes they won’t be among the 20 or so to move on to the next round of roster building. That’s the mantra of sports optimism: The slightest doubt leaves you out.
Pete Carroll, of course, is never about doubt and all about possibilities. No day for rhapsodizing about the positives is like the first day of rookie camp for the Seahawks coach.
“You could tell how excited the players were to be here,” he said after the first practice. “If you look close you could see how excited the coaches were too.
“I don’t think anybody had a problem today. Everybody did good stuff across the board.”
The full Willy Wonka.
Carroll had to tamp down the gee-whizzery by alerting them that while the first shuttle left the hotel at 6 a.m. for the 8:30 walk-through practice, “Don’t everybody get on the 6 a.m. shuttle.”
The one guy from whom everyone on the staff wanted to see a 6 a.m. eagerness was Malik McDowell, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound defensive end from Michigan State, a top-of-the-first talent who dropped to the Seahawks at No. 35 in the draft last month because of his low-motor tendency to take some plays off.
“He’s an enigma,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper told reporters before the draft. “He’s got all this talent and he showed it two years ago and then, this year, it was underwhelming.’’
McDowell didn’t win any converts with his low-key first press conference Friday when he was asked whether his rap was justified.
“I guess so,” he said, shrugging. “I was really just ready to move on up and ready to go wherever I had to go. So I’m here, and I like it here. I love it here, actually.”
McDowell apparently came into his junior season with a sprained ankle, then aggravated it and missed the final three games of a desultory 3-8 Spartans season. He’s also only 20, so good health and some maturity might make some difference.
The physical virtues were immediately visible to Carroll.
“Instantly almost, you can see how comfortable he is with his movements and body control,” he said. “He’s got an awareness already on how to use his hands. I’m surprised to see that much background, technically. They did a real nice job with him at Michigan State.
“He’s taller than a lot of guys we’ve had at this position. I’m excited to see how we can move forward with that.”
The Spartans used him as a nose guard over the center, but Carroll thinks McDowell is a rush end in the fashion of Michael Bennett.
“We haven’t coached a lot of tall guys, getting in the way of QBs, knocking the ball down,” he said. “He has a big wingspan. He’s built like a five-technique and rushes like a three-technique.”
In the no-pads drills, McDowell’s speed was apparent. But on one rush, he was pushed away from the pocket and slowed down, not realizing the quarterback had rolled out behind him to keep the play alive. He turned and ran back to the action, but the play was over by the time he reached it.
That is exactly the kind of play that cost him first-round draft money.
Frank Clark needs to stay off social media
DE Frank Clark, who had a domestic assault charge hanging over his head when he was drafted by the Seahawks in 2014, did himself no favors this week when he offered a crude response on his Twitter account to a female reporter for Bleacher Report.
A Seahawks statement that expressed “extreme disappointment with his judgment” came out of a meeting with Clark after he wrote to Natalie Weiner: “People like you don’t have long careers in your field. I have a job for you cleaning my fish tank when that lil job is ova.”
The fish-tank reference is slang for a sex act. Clark’s 2014 charge was reduced to disorderly conduct, but the Seahawks were criticized for drafting Clark. He pledged that he learned his lesson. Eighteen hours after his tweet, Clark offered a vague apology, then after the meeting, a more direct apology.
“I understand the seriousness of this subject. I want to apologize to Natalie Weiner for letting my emotions get the best of me about comments made toward my personal life and family. I have worked hard over the last two years to do right, not only for myself, but for my family as well. I will continue on this path, on and off the field.”
Carroll was asked about it Friday.
“Frank did not handle that real well, and I think he has done a nice job to recognize and made his statement of apology,” Carroll said. “He has definitely learned from that, and sometimes that lesson for other people as well can be valuable. I’m hoping that Frank will do a nice job communicating that to guys in the locker room. I’m glad that thing’s behind us.”
The belief that bad behavior from Clark was behind them was, of course, what the Seahawks said after the first episode.