RENTON, Wash. -- The 6:10 a.m. PT flight from Phoenix to Seattle has its advantages: arriving in time to catch the Seahawks' first fully padded practice of the summer.
A few thoughts and observations:
Catching on: This team is catching the ball well throughout the roster. Coach Pete Carroll alluded to at least a half-dozen "circus" catches already from Sidney Rice. Guys fighting for playing time and roster spots are also making the impressive appear routine. Isaiah Stanback, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Pat Williams were among those catching my attention Saturday. Williams stole the ball from safety Josh Pinkard after Pinkard undercut the route. I'm still not sure how Williams caught the ball. Stanback made a leaping grab in the end zone. Tate seized possession of a pass to the flat that cornerback Marcus Trufant contested closely.
The more you can do: Stanback, former quarterback at the University of Washington, could have additional value as teams transition to 46-man rosters on game days. Fullback Michael Robinson also would qualify as an emergency quarterback for a team keeping only two on its 53-man roster. Stanback and Robinson are both strong special-teams players.
Whitehurst watch: Third-string quarterback Josh Portis stood out Saturday. He's having a strong camp and the team plans to keep him around in some capacity. Carroll heaped praise upon Portis after practice: "He is in command of the offense as much as he could be at this time. He is handling the huddle well and he's very confident. He has a great delivery and a very strong arm and he is very poised. He has just been a real pleasant surprise. We're real excited about him being the third guy right now and knowing that in time he is going to gain knowledge of the offense, get settled in and let that ability come to the front. This is an extremely big get for us in free agency." Carroll offered no specifics when I asked whether Portis could realistically compete for the No. 2 job, which Charlie Whitehurst currently holds. Pushing an undrafted rookie into the No. 2 role sounds ambitious and could be a long shot. The footing beneath Whitehurst has softened since Carroll committed to Tarvaris Jackson as the starter, however.
Legging it out: Offensive linemen must run laps around the field immediately after committing false-start penalties. I wasn't sure right tackle James Carpenter was going to make it through practice. He's a huge man built to maul other huge men at the line of scrimmage. He's not a candidate for the cross-country team. Of all the offensive linemen guilty of false starts Saturday, left tackle Russell Okung appeared most comfortable taking his laps. Carpenter is having a strong camp, by the way.
Injury watch: Receiver Mike Williams is practicing again after sitting out with an unspecified leg injury. I was watching to see if he opened up and ran full speed. If he did, I missed it.
One last note: More than 2,100 fans packed the hill overlooking practice. The Seahawks have limited space for fans at practices because Lake Washington and Interstate 405 frame the facility narrowly. Fans park off-site and then ride buses a short distance to the facility.
I'll be heading to San Francisco 49ers camp beginning Monday, with an extended trip to St. Louis from Rams camp scheduled the following week. It's great having football back.