SEATTLE – In the pre-COVID-19 world, the Seahawks on Wednesday would be holding a light walk-through at the VMAC in Renton, Washington, after which Pete Carroll would address the media, and then the team would get on a plane to Las Vegas to play the Raiders in a preseason game Thursday night, the first of the year.
Instead, in a year unlike any other, Wednesday marks the first time the Seahawks will take the field at the VMAC for what is officially considered a practice since the end of the 2019 season.
The Seahawks are set to practice at 1 p.m. for what is the first of a five-day “ramp-up’’ period in which practices will increase gradually in length and intensity, though still resembling offseason organized team activity (OTA) workouts.
Teams can put on full pads for the first time Monday.
Still, even if not quite the “real thing” just yet, the workouts will be the first real chance for Carroll and general manager John Schneider to see the 2020 Seahawks in full and begin assembling the 53-player roster that will (they hope, anyway) take the field in Atlanta on Sept. 13.
Here are a few things we’ll be watching for:
Roll call: The Seahawks put only one player on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list following physicals last week – running back Rashaad Penny, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last December against the Rams.
Rookie defensive end Darrell Taylor was also put on the Non-Football Injury list after having surgery in January to put a rod in his leg to repair a shin injury, as was tight end Colby Parkinson. Taylor and Parkinson are on the active NFI list and could be activated at any time.
That indicates the team thinks everyone else can be ready for the start of the season, maybe the most notable being running back Chris Carson, who suffered a season-ending hip fracture last December.
That’s not really a surprise because the team has said all along the hope was he’d be ready for the season, though the assumption has been he won’t do much in camp. Seattle doesn’t have a lot of running-back depth at the moment after waiving both undrafted rookie free-agent running backs it signed – Patrick Carr and Anthony Jones – leaving just five on the roster. That would seem to indicate optimism for the health of players who remain, including newcomer Carlos Hyde, who had offseason shoulder surgery.
The line on the line: In a normal year, the Seahawks would have had 10 OTAs and three minicamp practices in the spring to begin assembling an offensive line that features a lot of new parts.
Now, piecing together the line will have to occur in a camp without preseason games – but with 14 full-padded practices, including two scrimmages at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 22 and Aug. 26, as well as a later mock game at the VMAC.
Conventional wisdom says the No. 1 offensive line will likely look like this to start: left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Mike Iupati, center B.J. Finney, right guard Damien Lewis and right tackle Brandon Shell.
Only Brown and Iupati were with the Seahawks a year ago. Lewis was drafted in the third round out of LSU, and Shell and Finney signed as free agents.
But of those five, only Brown feels a completely sure thing.
There are legitimate contenders at each of the other spots, notably Phil Haynes at left guard, former 2013 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi (with Tennessee) and Jamarco Jones at tackle (Jones may also line up at guard), Ethan Pocic at guard and center, and Jordan Simmons at guard.
Wednesday will mark the first chance for the Seahawks to see the newcomers (Lewis, Shell, Finney, Ogbuehi) on the field in a full-team session and begin putting it all together.
How will the linebackers shake out?: Quinton Dunbar’s return solidifies the starting secondary, leaving the composition of the linebacking corps the most intriguing personnel situation to watch on defense.
All we really know for sure is Bobby Wagner will again be the middle linebacker and Bruce Irvin is expected to play some at strongside linebacker.
Less clear is where first-round pick Jordyn Brooks and veteran K.J. Wright – the longest-tenured player on the team – fit in.
Coach Pete Carroll has said Brooks will begin his career at weakside linebacker, which Wright has manned consistently since 2013. That could move Wright over to the strongside spot, though the Seahawks would certainly wait to be sure they are confident Brooks can handle a full-time job out of the gate before moving Wright to strongside linebacker permanently.
Irvin, though, will also play the LEO or rush end spot quite a bit, which could open up playing time for Wright at strongside linebacker. Or, who knows? Maybe there’s a scenario in which they decide Brooks could be the strongside linebacker and leave Wright at weakside linebacker.
A first look at the rookies: It might be obvious, but the workouts this week will also be the first chance for the Seahawks to get an on-field look at their 11-player 2020 draft class.
As mentioned, Brooks and Lewis could be primed for starting roles.
Taylor will be, too, assuming his injury is not a big deal and he can return soon.
But with Taylor on the NFI list for now, that could open the door for Robinson – a fifth-round pick out of Syracuse – to make a move on the depth chart, where Irvin and Benson Mayowa enter camp as the top two.
Other rookies at whom the team will get a first look include running back DeeJay Dallas, receiver Freddie Swain and receiver/tight end Stephen Sullivan.
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