Not a big secret — Seahawks’ rookie mini-camp isn’t just for first-time players right out of college.
It is also another prove-yourself opportunity for guys who have not only been around the NFL, but the team — like quarterback Jake Heaps and wide receiver Kenny Lawler.
There is a reason coach Pete Carroll and his staff wanted Heaps back this weekend — he set an unmatched tone running the offense. And the former Skyline High School standout hooked up plenty of times with Lawler, last year’s rookie mini-camp receiving darling.
“Jake is really sharp in our system. He knows our stuff,” Carroll said. “It is awesome to have him in this camp. He can set the tempo and show how things are supposed to look. He looked very good again today. “
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Last season, Heaps was part of a undrafted free-agent quarterback trio with Trevone Boykin, out of TCU, and Vernon Adams, who had been at Oregon for one season after spending much of his career at Eastern Washington University.
Boykin ultimately landed the spot backing up Russell Wilson, but his future with the Seahawks could be dicey following two offseason arrests in the span of two weeks in Dallas.
Even before Boykin’s troubles, the team had planned on adding another quarterback to the roster to challenge him for the No. 2 job.
The guy Carroll raved about at the conclusion of last month’s NFL Draft was Skyler Howard, whom the organization signed as one of its first undrafted free agents.
Carroll dubbed Howard the “mad bomber” for his ability to throw the deep ball.
Howard’s touch was a little off Friday as he underthrew a long pass along the left sideline to third-round draft choice Amara Darboh, out of Michigan.
But the West Virginia product, who posted back-to-back 26-touchdown seasons with the Mountaineers, did a nice job on a rollout play, hitting seventh-rounder David Moore on a comeback route along the right sideline.
“Skyler looked good running around, and looked very resourceful,” Carroll said.
The third member of the signal-caller group is the biggest guy in the group — 6-foot-4, 243-pound Michael Birdsong, out of Tennessee Tech.
With his red hair and stocky shoulders, Birdsong could easily pass as the brother of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Birdsong has had an adventurous college career, beginning at FCS school James Madison where he started in 2013.
He sat out the next season after transferring to Marshall, and won the starting job there at the outset of 2015. But he was sidelined by a shoulder injury, and never regained his standing.
After graduating a year ago, Birdsong transferred yet again — this time to Tennessee Tech where he played in 11 games, throwing for 2,577 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Much like Howard, Birdsong has a big arm, which Carroll raved about after practice Friday.
“Birdsong was on fire today,” Carroll said.
The great thing about this time of year – the Seahawks don’t have to know what exactly to do as insurance for Wilson. They can continue to evaluate the three quarterbacks here this weekend, then decide whether or not to bring in a veteran sometime this summer.
“We are throwing them out there,” Carroll said. “So we are going to wait and see, and take a long time and figure it out. And hopefully these guys get a long time, and come back and get more time with us. That is what they are trying to prove in this mini-camp.”