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Offense looking for better execution

8/17/2004 - Seattle Seahawks

CHENEY, Wash. -- Five observations on the Seattle Seahawks, based on practices.

1. The scheme is pretty well set on offense so the mission for the Seahawks is better execution. Matt Hasselbeck is trying to make sure his receivers don't drop as many passes as last season when they finished second to Detroit. So far Darrell Jackson, Jerramy Stevens and Bobby Engram are catching the ball better. Koren Robinson, who dropped too many passes last season, got a wake-up call when coaches put him behind Jerheme Urban at split end because he didn't arrive in camp in great shape. Robinson is showing more urgency now so he can reclaim the starting job. After getting an $8 million signing bonus in a contract extension, flanker Jackson came to camp in great shape and has worked even harder than in the past. "You can tell which guys worked hard on it this offseason," Hasselbeck said. "We had a good year last season, but we had a lot of mistakes." Halfback Shaun Alexander worked harder on conditioning to improve his game. Pleasing to the coaching staff is the extra time Alexander spent in the tape room watching offensive players and studying the weaknesses of defenders. "I'm real excited about this team," Alexander said. "You see things jelling. The wide receivers came in with a swagger. The quarterback was ready to go. I've been fine tuning everything by how I study plays."

2. The most improved player on the roster is quarterback Seneca Wallace, who appeared destined to be released after two seasons or maybe make the practice squad. Wallace is running and throwing with much more authority and made great strides in learning the West Coast offense. His ability to make plays out of the pockets makes him valuable near the line of scrimmage. Brock Huard was signed to be the third quarterback, but he is hobbled by a sore back. Wallace suddenly has a chance to stay as the third quarterback.

3. The surprise name to watch is strong safety Terreal Bierria. He's running with the first team and looking good. At some point, he may give way to second-round choice Michael Boulware, who is making the transition from being a college linebacker. Bierria was a highly rated safety from Georgia selected in the fourth round in 2002, but hasn't been able to shake the injury bug during his first two seasons. He's a big safety at 6-foot-3, 211 pounds and has a lot of range.

4. The Seahawks may take the whole season to sort out their uncertain middle linebacker job. Solomon Bates has the edge because he's good on running and passing plays. Fourth-round pick Niko Koutouvides is real interesting, though. He's an instinctive player who will push until the end of the game. With so many three-receiving teams on their schedule, the middle linebacker position really is on the field for only first downs and some second down running plays.


5. Cornerback Ken Lucas, who lost a lot of confidence as he struggled in pass coverage a year ago, is having one of the best camps among the Seahawks. He's playing ahead of Bobby Taylor and is trying to match Marcus Trufant play-for-play in stopping the passing offenses. Lucas is in the final year of his rookie contract.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.