Seattle Seahawks

Dave Boling: Rookies already get what it takes to be Seahawks

Seahawks rookie running backs Alex Collins (36) and C.J. Prosise (22) have been impressive in the early days of training camp. Also pictured: Tre Madden (38) and veteran Christine Michael (32).
Seahawks rookie running backs Alex Collins (36) and C.J. Prosise (22) have been impressive in the early days of training camp. Also pictured: Tre Madden (38) and veteran Christine Michael (32).

You would think that this was a time for tiny baby steps.

And that rookies in the first week of Seahawks training camp would be like novitiates taking beginner catechism classes in the Carrollian creed.

That’s not how they do it, though — not on a team where competitive audacity serves as a special currency at all times.

Here, coach Pete Carroll and his staff toss them into the deep end and ask them to swim with the sharks from Day One.

This 2016 draft class looks like the most talented, top to bottom, since the 2012 haul that was highlighted by the conscription of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.

In the first few days of camp, the rookies have impressed with both their talent and combative comportment.

Practices from Saturday through Tuesday grew increasingly intense, and two veterans cited the rookies as the reason.

“A bunch of young guys fighting for a spot,” Richard Sherman said when asked of the battles that sometimes escalated beyond the coaches’ whistles.

Cliff Avril added: “The young guys are coming along pretty fast. … They have to show if they’re tough — tough enough to play this great game.”

Tough enough to be Seahawks, he means.

First-round guard Germain Ifedi was notably defiant in the face of Pro Bowl defender Michael Bennett, and second-round defensive tackle Jarran Reed has locked horns with veteran center Justin Britt.

Running back Alex Collins, too, has asserted himself on occasion.

There’s a threshold, though, between being assertive and going all-out-Giacomini on somebody — the difference between earning respect and being dangerous.

Any number of the current Seahawks have been there, coming in and gaining immediate notice with their impassioned play. Cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-rounder in 2012, was a great example, coming in from Northwestern State in Louisiana and challenging every receiver who got near him.

There was no deference to experience or accolades; when the ball went up, Lane was going to go get it.

Two circumstances factor into that attitude.

Players know they’ll get the chance to get on the field if they earn it. Eleven rookies were on Seattle’s opening-day rosters over the past two seasons.

Second, rookies are treated like Seahawks, not some kind of lesser subgenus. There’s no hazing, no menial chores, no condescension.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable was asked about the approach to assimilating rookies onto the team.

“I think it’s important to recognize that young guys are going to help your team, and so if you treat them like rookies, you’re really probably putting them in a negative vibe,” Cable said. “… Treat them just like any other teammate — with respect, and have great honor in what they’re doing.”

Veterans, Cable said, should remember what it was like when they were in that situation, and give the rookies the respect they wanted at that point.

It’s unfair to make assumptions after only a few days, but it certainly looks like Ifedi will start at right guard. And depending on others’ health and performance, Reed will start or be in the rotation.

Running back C.J. Prosise has been shelved temporarily with a hamstring injury, but he should have time and the opportunity to earn snaps as the third-down back.

Nick Vannett needs to prove he can be effective as an in-line blocking tight end, and we’ll only see that once the preseason games start.

The value of game action also holds true for backup guard Rees Odhiambo and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, who has been getting quality time and impressive reps in early camp sessions.

Of the other draft picks and free agents, receiver Kenny Lawler made a number of eye-catching receptions in the rookie minicamp, and free-agent quarterback Trevone Boykin gets more comfortable with every practice.

The pick of the litter could be any of these guys or even some obscure free agent who will emerge once the games get underway — as running back Thomas Rawls did last season.

Carroll recently bestowed his blanket approval of the rookies, calling them “a really competitive bunch of guys.”

It means more than just being talented.

It means these rookies understand what it takes to be a Seahawk.

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