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Saturday, May 1, 2010
Seahawks rookies already impressing

Associated Press

RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll was excited when Seattle grabbed offensive tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas during the first round of the NFL draft.

The new Seahawks coach was even happier when he saw them during the team's minicamp this weekend.

Seattle selected Okung of Oklahoma State with the sixth overall pick and Thomas of Texas at No. 14, and the Seahawks are hoping both can adapt quickly to the pro game.

A day after Walter Jones announced his retirement, Okung was thrown into the mix at the left tackle position, lining up alongside recently acquired Ben Hamilton. He was back in the same spot on Saturday.

"Russell fit in very well and did some very good things today at the left tackle spot," Carroll said Friday. "I mean, I don't know how he could know as much as he does other than the fact that Ben Hamilton was there helping him with the calls and stuff, which was great."

Hamilton helped Ryan Clady become a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle in Denver before joining the Seahawks. He has experience with Alex Gibbs' zone blocking scheme and was brought in to help teach Okung and be an extension of Gibbs.

"It helps a lot," offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said Saturday. "Ben passes on the calls to him. Helps him out. It's like having a coach on the field."

Okung made his presence felt on day one of camp, grabbing seventh-round pick Dexter Davis under the facemask and driving him away from a play on Friday. He admitted that his head is still spinning a bit while trying to learn the differences between Gibbs' scheme and what he ran in college.

"It's different out here," Okung said. "The little steps. The hand placement. All those little things come into effect.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed but I'm just taking everything in. I'm learning. I'm getting in the playbook. I'm being patient and things are going to get rolling."

Thomas also made an impression, running with the first-team defense at free safety alongside Jordan Babineaux and recently re-signed Lawyer Milloy.

"Earl's range was all over the field," Carroll said. "He's got great speed. In time, when he gets to use it for us, he's going to be a big factor."

Milloy has taken Thomas under his wing and is helping ease his transition to the NFL.

"He gives me real solid advice," Thomas said. "He just told me you're not going to learn everything in the first day, so just take everything and take your coaching and you'll be just fine."

The Seahawks are hoping Thomas is the answer for a position that has been a trouble spot since their Super Bowl run in 2005.

"Some of the stuff we do on defense, we did at Texas so it's not all brand new to me," Thomas said. "I'm a quick learner. I'm going to get in there and try to compete and see what happens."

With Carroll's philosophy of competition at every position, both Okung and Thomas will have every opportunity to be an impact player for the Seahawks in the fall.

"It's kind of overwhelming. I see Julius Jones over there running the ball. I asked for his autograph," the 20-year-old Thomas said with a laugh. "It's a great experience, a great group of guys and I'm just happy to be out there."