NFL Nation: Phil Bates


The Seattle Seahawks' depth at wide receiver is suddenly a little shallow, but for how long? No one seems to know.

The latest from coach Pete Carroll: Sidney Rice went to Europe for a non-surgical procedure on his knee, while Percy Harvin was in New York getting a second opinion on his sore hip (nothing new to report there).

This situation is ripe for overreaction. Harvin was running at full speed within the past week or so and did not, as far as we know, suffer a new injury. Rice has been practicing and did not, as far as we know, suffer a new injury. But at the very least, there's a chance both receivers will be managing injuries throughout the 2013 season.

Harvin missed seven games to an ankle injury last season. Rice did not miss a game in 2012 after having a surgery on each shoulder. He missed seven games in 2011 and 11 the year before that.

Rice played through knee soreness last season without missing time. He scheduled this overseas treatment previously and with the team's knowledge. The timing wasn't in relation to any aggravation of the injury. Rice was functioning as normal and practicing. The team does not expect him to miss practices or games when he returns.

Harvin and Rice figure prominently into the Seahawks' plans on offense. Their contracts also figure prominently. The chart shows projected salary-cap charges for Harvin, Rice, Zach Miller, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Golden Tate. Harvin's new deal buys him security for the next couple seasons. The team could more easily free itself from Rice's contract. Tate is entering the final year of his contract, adding another dynamic to the position.

Those are issues to resolve in the future. First, the Seahawks need to find out more about Harvin in particular, and also Rice.

Seattle currently has 12 receivers on its roster: Harvin, Rice, Tate, Doug Baldwin, Chris Harper, Stephen Williams, Jermaine Kearse, Brett Swain, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Greg Herd and Arceto Clark.


Three things: Titans-Seahawks

August, 11, 2012
8/11/12
5:00
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Three things to watch for Saturday in the Seattle Seahawks' preseason opener at home against the Tennessee Titans at 10 p.m. ET:

1. QB competition. Matt Flynn has benefited from the Seahawks' decision to give him additional reps as the starter for at least this week. He's gotten sharper in practice and has an opportunity to improve his chances at becoming the starter for the regular season. It's a bonus if Flynn gets to work in two-minute situations. That was one area where Seattle struggled with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback in 2011. Jackson had no touchdowns, six interceptions and nine sacks in the final two minutes of halves. Will the offense look better with Flynn in those situations? Rookie Russell Wilson is scheduled to play the second half. That means he'll also have an extended opportunity to prove himself as a potential starter.

2. Three rookie draft choices. Defensive end Bruce Irvin (first round), middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin (fourth round) are the ones I'm most interested in watching. Irvin has been too fast for the offensive linemen trying to block him in practice. He has also shown better strength than might have been anticipated. It's an upset if he doesn't get pressure, based on what he's shown in camp. Wagner is the favorite to start at middle linebacker. Speed and strong hands made him appealing to Seattle in the draft. Fullback Michael Robinson compared Wagner's speed to what he saw from Patrick Willis, his former teammate in San Francisco. On offense, Turbin figures to get chances with the first-team offense while Seattle rests starter Marshawn Lynch. Turbin has made a positive impression in camp. We should watch to see if he runs with power. The Seahawks wanted a backup runner with qualities somewhat similar to those Lynch possesses. They figured that would allow them to run their preferred offense even if Lynch were unavailable.

3. Receiver mix. Terrell Owens, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette are not expected to play in this game. That opens the door for Golden Tate, Braylon Edwards, Ben Obomanu and Kris Durham in particular to show the Seahawks can count on them. Durham has struggled to this point in camp. He likely needs to fare better during the exhibition games to secure a roster spot. Tate had drawn high praise from coach Pete Carroll. Will it carry over? Edwards came on strong once Owens' arrival ramped up competition for what figures to be one roster spot between the two of them. Other receivers: Deon Butler, Phil Bates, Lavasier Tuinei, Charly Martin and Jermaine Kearse. Bates has impressed as an undrafted rookie. He is 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds.
AFC hidden treasures: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

The Seattle Seahawks haven't sent a player to the Pro Bowl as a full-time wide receiver since Brian Blades made it following the 1989 season.

That streak appears unlikely to end anytime soon. The team invested virtually nothing in the position this offseason. A few questions persist -- for example, what does Mike Williams have in store? -- but with so much attention on quarterbacks and the Seattle defense, wide receiver gets my vote as a Seahawks position group that could surprise.

Sidney Rice and 2011 fourth-round choice Kris Durham are returning to health, Golden Tate was ascending late last season and the Seahawks are giving themselves a chance to get more from the quarterback position.

Rice underwent surgery on both shoulders this offseason. He is now nearly three full offseasons removed from the only statistically impressive season of his five-year career. This is looking like a pivotal season for him. Tate caught 35 passes on 56 targets with no drops last season.

Doug Baldwin, largely unknown a year ago, returns as one of the best third-down threats in the league. Ricardo Lockette has shown signs he can stretch a defense. Seattle targeted Lockett four times last season, all in the final two games. Lockette caught a 44-yarder against San Francisco and a 61-yarder against Arizona. Both defenses were hot.

Undrafted free agent Phil Bates could be another player to watch, particularly after Baldwin emerged last season.
RENTON, Wash. -- Thoughts and observations after watching the Seattle Seahawks open their rookie camp Friday:

  • First-round pick Bruce Irvin impressed coaches with his ability to grasp defensive concepts. That can be a concern for any rookie and particularly for one with Irvin's unusual background (out of football for two years while living on the streets). Irvin practiced with intensity. He did not get great results immediately and it was easy to see why. Alex Barron, who has practiced against Leonard Little and DeMarcus Ware over the years, was one of the few veterans in camp. While Barron's career has faltered, he remains a first-round talent and it showed in the first practice. The Seahawks are giving him a tryout. Barron, a first-round pick for St. Louis in 2005, is 29 years old and spent last season on injured reserve with New Orleans. He looked healthy and was obviously more talented than the free-agent offensive linemen in camp.
  • Coach Pete Carroll raved about running back Robert Turbin. He loved Turbin's quickness and feel for the zone running game. Turbin has huge biceps, but his lower body looks like it belongs to a smaller man.
  • Third-round quarterback Russell Wilson took twice as many snaps as any rookie and made a resoundingly positive first impression. Wilson threaded perfect passes all over the field, hitting receivers and tight ends in stride. Height, not talent, is the concern for the 5-foot-11 Wilson. He did have three passes tipped near the line of scrimmage, by my count. A couple deep balls failed to find their targets, Carroll noted. Wilson is going to get the attention of the veteran quarterbacks, it looks like.
  • Fourth-round pick Jaye Howard, a defensive tackle from Florida, impressed Carroll with his quickness.
  • The Seahawks invited draft choices' families to watch practice. All 10 picks had family in attendance on a spectacularly sunny day on the shores of Lake Washington.
  • Linebacker Korey Toomer, a fifth-round pick from Idaho, appeared athletic. He picked off a batted pass and headed for the end zone with it.
  • The Seahawks fared well with undrafted receiver Doug Baldwin last season. Phil Bates from Ohio was the undrafted receiver I noticed the most during this practice. He made a leaping grab on a deep ball. He also made a one-handed grab in traffic. He also dropped a pass later in practice. Overall, though, he looked good. Bates is 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds.

Players were wearing helmets, but no pads. It's tough to make lasting judgments from a camp such as this one. First impressions will have to suffice.

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