BY Art Thiel 06:00PM 05/11/2012

Seahawks draftee Irvin passes the speed test

Searching for meaning on the first the first day of rookies’ padless football practice against air is barely more productive than looking for life on the moon from one’s porch.

But one thing was plain Friday at Seahawks headquarters, even without a telescope — the scouts weren’t lying: Bruce Irvin is meteor-fast.

It will be an object of much entertainment for Seahawks fans, and help quiet the debate over the most talked-about pick in the NFL draft’s first round last month. More impressive to coach Pete Carroll, who knew about the speed, was Irvin’s quick take on the more cerebral parts of the enterprise.

“Bruce worked really hard,” Carroll said. “His command of what we were doing was really good. He’s not going to have any trouble learning what’s happening. He’s been a pleasant surprise in that it comes easy to him – that’s a really good deal for us to be able to push him forward.”

Again, it was the first day. But it wasn’t the first time Irvin has chased Russell. He got after him, in college.

“Got him twice,” said Irvin, of West Virginia, referring to Wilson’s North Carolina State days. “I should have had him five (times), but he’s a great athlete so he made me miss about three or four times.”

Russell’s athleticism was obvious to all as well. The Seahawks’ other controversial pick, a third-rounder,  took about 70 snaps in practice and displayed speed and agility with his feet, and a strong arm that delivered tight, hard spirals.

But he definitely wasn’t any taller than the advertised 5-foot-11, which truly was noticeable when he crouched behind center for the snap. Footstool, anyone? Naturally, it was of no mind to Carroll.

“He did a beautiful job for his first day out,” he said. “I don’t think he had a missed assignment. He’s really busted his tail to figure it out. He was not overloaded at all.

“Just knowing who he is and how he was going to approach this, I expected that he would be really good, and he was. He’s really smart, he’s very experienced, he’s as savvy as a guy could be.”

The first, unpadded glimpse of the rookies without veterans was brought to observers by the new collective bargaining agreement, which specifies fewer and shorter practices, less contact and safety first. It was odd.

“We can’t do anything about it,” Carroll said. “It’s brand new. We’re not just tippy-toeing along. We know this is part of the staging for their ability to compete when the other guys get here. It’s not always best for evaluation, but we don’t need to know everything right now, either.
“We’ll wear them out by the time they get out of here Sunday, but this is really a fun time to coach.”

Especially when the draftees make the drafters look like geniuses.