Thoughts, observations from Seahawks practice

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

RENTON, Wash. -- Emptying the notebook after watching the Seahawks practice on a bright, sunny day at their lakefront facility:

  • Tight end John Carlson stands out right away. Defensive backs are bouncing off him after he catches the ball and turns upfield. Carlson makes overhead catches appear routine even with a defender trailing him closely. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said the staff is using Carlson extensively across multiple packages, including on third down. There were times last season when Carlson inexplicably -- to me, anyway -- came off the field in those situations.

  • Aaron Curry covers Carlson better than anyone, but coach Jim Mora singled out the rookie linebacker's pass-rush skills as a pleasant surprise so far this offseason. Mora issued the usual disclaimer about how it's tough to fully evaluate when players aren't wearing pads. But he said the pass-rush aspect was something they did not see from him in college because Wake Forest didn't ask him to do it much.

  • T.J. Houshmandzadeh doesn't dazzle in practice. I suspect he's a master of maximizing situations during games to get open and make contested catches.

  • Oregon basketball coach Ernie Kent watched practice. His son, Jordan, faces increased competition for a roster spot at receiver. Jordan appears stronger than in past seasons, but he'll need to produce in exhibition games to earn a roster spot if Seattle remains reasonably healthy at the position.

  • Receiver Deion Branch and defensive lineman Cory Redding returned to practice after rehabbing injuries. Branch said he has no pain in his surgically repaired knee.

  • Seneca Wallace still throws a better deep ball than anyone on the team. He found Mike Hass for a long touchdown up the left sideline against Marquis Floyd. Wallace also found Deon Butler for a long gain despite tight coverage from Josh Wilson.

  • Logan Payne is practicing at full speed and without a knee brace. The receiver suffered a serious knee injury early last season.

  • Who is the backup tight end again? Carlson looks terrific, but I'm not sure the Seahawks can run their passing game as intended if something happens to him.

  • Lawrence Jackson, Darryl Tapp and Baraka Atkins have impressed coaches this offseason. Mora said he has seen "flashes" from each player and it's time for them to step up their games. I mentioned Jackson and Tapp when asking the question. Mora answered quickly and added Atkins' name to his answer.

  • Kevin Hobbs makes aggressive plays on the ball. He broke up a high pass to Houshmandzadeh early in practice, leaving the veteran receiver with obvious discomfort in his left hand. Houshmandzadeh kept practicing. Later, Hobbs picked off a pass from Wallace over the middle. Wallace took responsibility for the turnover.

  • Hasselbeck explained one big difference in practices since Mora replaced Mike Holmgren. The change to a defensive coach has led to much more emphasis on playing hard to the whistle and trying to force turnovers. Holmgren put more emphasis on the offense playing with precision and never letting the football hit the ground.

The Seahawks are back on the field Thursday and Friday. Their first training camp practice is expected to be held Aug. 1, although the team has not announced a schedule.