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What did we learn from Seattle Seahawks minicamp?

Joe Nicholson / Associated Press

While teams around the NFL finished up three-day mandatory minicamp sessions, the Seattle Seahawks found themselves in a bit of an odd position.

Seattle was only allowed to hold one minicamp day as punishment for having excessive contact in offseason practices last summer. Thursday’s minicamp marked the last time the Seahawks will practice as a team until training camp starts in late July.

Much like OTAs, no contact was allowed in team drills, so there’s only so much that can be learned. Still, there were a few takeaways from the abbreviated session.

Perhaps most notably, both Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin were present despite rumors all offseason that both weren’t too happy with the team. A few surprise candidates also received some key playing time with the first team.

The starting center job is completely up for grabs

As many as four candidates are still vying to take over for Max Unger as Seattle’s starting center. Thursday’s session did little to clear up the question of who will be starting at center come September.

As expected, Lemuel Jeanpierre got quite a few snaps at center with the first-team offense. Jeanpierre has been with the Seahawks since 2010 and his familiarity with Tom Cable’s system could be the deciding factor later this summer.

However, Jeanpierre split first team snaps with newcomer Drew Nowak. Nowak has primary been a guard in his three-year NFL career and only appeared in two games with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but has impressed the coaching staff enough to get first-team snaps just about every practice.

Patrick Lewis is also in the mix, while Kristjan Sokoli will likely take more time to convert from the defensive line to center. The battle for the starting center job will be the most intriguing thing of trainig camp and looks like it could down to the last minute.

Thomas Rawls has a real shot at making the roster

With Marshawn Lynch absent and Robert Turbin injured, OTAs and minicamp was supposed to be Christine Michael‘s time to shine. Instead, the often-injured Michael was sidelined on a couple seperate occasions, inlcuding Thursday with a hamstring issue.

That was to the benefit of undrafted free agent Thomas Rawls, who took most of the snaps with the first team offense. Pete Carroll and company have given Rawls rave reviews so far, and he is making a serious case to be included on the final 53-man roster.

Rawls is a very physical runner at 5-9, 215 pounds and likely had the talent to go in the mid-rounds, but was held back by off-the-field issues. It’s obviously very early, but the Seahawks may want to hold on to Rawls on the active roster just in case he shows enough to establish himself as part of the post-Lynch picture down the road.

There will be some new faces at linebacker

Always looking for more flexibility and a bigger rotation on defense, the Seahawks tried moving some familiar players to linebacker during the early stage of the offseason.

Cassius Marsh, who had some success at both edge rusher and tackle last season before being injured, debuted at outside linebacker on Thursday. Carroll compared him to Bruce Irvin, a similar ‘tweener player, meaning Marsh could potentially take over that role if Irvin does indeed leave next year.

The Seahawks are also trying to find the right role for Eric Pinkins. Pinkins played safety in college before the Seahawks moved to cornerback right after he was drafted. That didn’t work out at all, so Pinkins added some weight and is now getting some snaps as an outside linebacker.

His transition will be tougher than Marsh’s, so there’s still a long ways to go before he establishes himself on the depth chart. But Pinkins has fantastic speed and athleticism, so the Seahawks will continue to try and find the right fit throughout the offseason.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.
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