SEATTLE – The Seahawks’ offseason is nearing its end. Thursday marked the last of the team’s 10 voluntary OTAs (Organized Team Activities). All that’s left now is a mandatory mini-camp next Tuesday-Thursday, after which the team will break for the summer before returning for training camp in late July.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Thursday that he expects every player on the 90-man roster to be present for mini-camp (teams can fine players up to $84,435 for missing mini-camp while there is no punishment available for sitting out OTAs).
That obviously means he is expecting free safety Earl Thomas – who has not been seen at any of the team’s off-season activities – to show up, as well as defensive end Frank Clark and cornerback Byron Maxwell, who also were not around for OTAs.
“Yeah, well, it’s mandatory, you know?” Carroll said. “So we expect everybody to show up.”
Dion Jordan recently had a clean-up surgery on his knee, but the team expects him ready for training camp: Jordan, recall, missed the 2016 season while with Miami due to an ACL injury and then underwent another surgery after signing with Seattle last spring. He recovered to play in five games in the second half of the 2017 season, and played well enough that the team tendered him as a restricted free agent, with the hope that he can step in as a starting defensive end.
That appears to still be the hope, with Carroll saying Jordan should be ready for training camp even if he has not taken part in OTAs.
“He had a surgery, kind of an after surgery to correct a little something, and everything went really well, and we’re hoping by camp time he’ll be ready to rip and all that,” Carroll said adding that Jordan has had a few concerns with the knee over time, “so it was worth it to just go ahead and clean this thing up. It was a really small issue, but it was one that was going to sit him down for 6-8 weeks, so we just went ahead and did it.”
Carroll likes the way Shaquill Griffin is making the transition to left cornerback: In a subtle but important change, Griffin is moving from right corner to left, the side Richard Sherman has played since 2011. Carroll said that also allows Maxwell to go back to the right side, where he thrived with the Seahawks from 2011-14. So far, so good on Griffin’s side of things, Carroll said.
“Physically it was no problem,” Carroll said. “He had played back and forth in earlier years. His mentality was fine and he was wide open to it, so that’s most of it.” Carroll said Griffin “never balked at all” at making the switch, and that there are no signs “it’s going to be a problem.”
If Carroll had to pick one offseason standout, it’d be second-year running back Chris Carson: Carson became the starting tailback last season before suffering an ankle injury in the fourth game that ultimately knocked him out for the rest of the year. Carson is healthy now and also has put on about 10 pounds to get up to about the 226-227 range.
Asked Thursday to name a few players who have stood out from a physical conditioning standpoint, Carroll began with Carson, saying “he hasn’t missed one snap of anything. He’s just looked so fit, and just so cut, and quick and explosive and all of that. He’s the guy that just stood out in that regard.”
Oft-injured third-year tailback C.J. Prosise has also been an offseason standout: Prosise, a third-round pick in 2016, has had a frustrating start to his career, with some tantalizing moments of promise overshadowed by injuries that have resulted in him playing in just 11 of a possible 32 games.
But Prosise has been healthy this offseason, on the field for everything during the OTAs open to the media, and Carroll also volunteered his name Thursday, saying “C.J. has really jumped out, too. He’s looked good now. He knows he’s battling (for a roster spot).”
Offensive linemen were also part of Carroll’s group of offseason standouts: Two other players Carroll cited for their conditioning are left tackle Duane Brown and left guard Ethan Pocic, the latter of whom has added about 20 pounds.
Brown has “just looked great,” Carroll said, while he said of Pocic that “he came back 20 pounds heavier after a really great offseason of work that we really wanted him to do, and he’s just carried it off and did a beautiful job.”
Receiver Tyler Lockett is also healthy, and caught about a million passes Thursday: Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration. But Lockett was everywhere Thursday as the Seahawks conducted a number of situational drills (such as two-minute drills). He looked, finally, fully recovered from the devastating leg inury he suffered on Christmas Eve 2016. Lockett returned to play all of last season, but Carroll said it was obvious Lockett wasn’t quite 100 percent. But he is now, Carroll said, which could give the team’s receiving corps a significant boost.
“It’s really been a blessing for him to be able to get his legs back underneath him,” Carroll said. “Last year was a struggle for him, the offseason for certain, but throughout the season itself, he was not able to do things in the same manner that he had done it in years past, and that’s really just workload. He just couldn’t do as much, had to take care of his legs more. So he’s back at it, he’s really playing fast, he has no restrictions of any kind, of aftereffects of the surgery of last year or since he’s been hurt. So that’s a real positive. He looked great today, in particular.”
That Russell Wilson guy, and also that Doug Baldwin dude, are still really good, too: It’s easy sometimes to focus on the new in the offseason and take for granted the big names. But the big names on this team are more important than ever, and the good news for Carroll is that Wilson and Baldwin, in particular, are right where the team needs them to be.
Wilson threw a 60-yard dime right in stride to Lockett at one point, symbolizing a day when he appeared on the money with everything. Baldwin has been a steady performer throughout OTAs – watching him dive for passes, you wouldn’t know he’s a veteran as secure as anyone on the roster, and not an undrafted rookie fighting for a roster spot.
“Doug and Russell have had really good work up to now,” Carroll said. “They have really been the best they’ve ever been, the tightest they have ever been. Schotty (new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) has helped them in some ways that shows that.”
The punter competition may still take a little while: It sort of feels like a given that at some point the team will release veteran Jon Ryan – who has been with the Seahawks since 2008 – in favor of rookie Michael Dickson, on whom Seattle spent a fifth-round pick.
But it was interesting Thursday seeing Ryan handle all of the holds during the team periods – holding is a duty that ideally falls to the punter, and is one Ryan has manned for years. Dickson had done most of the holding in the earlier OTAs, open to the media.
It may have been nothing, just getting Ryan some work. But asked about the punting competition afterward Carroll said team considers it still a battle.
Carroll said Ryan “has had a good offseason so far, so this will take quite a while before we will be able to make any kind of evaluation. But Jon is doing everything he can to be the punter here.”
There’s nothing new on Kam Chancellor: Chancellor will have some scans on his neck at some point this month to determine where he is in his recovery, and if he has a chance to play again.
Brandon Marshall had the day off to rehab on his own: Marshall revealed when he signed last week that he not only had ankle surgery but also toe surgery last fall. He was not present Thursday, with Carroll saying Marshall “had an opportunity to get out of here for one day on the weekend, sent him home for special rehab back there.”
Carroll expects George Fant ready for training camp: Fant, who was on his way to being the team’s starting left tackle last year before suffering an ACL injury in the second preseason game, should be ready for training camp.
In fact, Carroll said Fant could probably do some work now, but that there simply isn’t any reason to push it at this point.
“George could probably get out there now if we needed him to, but it’s just not worth it to do that,” Carroll said.
Guard D.J. Fluker, who had been resting with a knee issue, also was back to doing some work on Thursday, and Carroll said he should do more next week.
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