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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks fully healthy as they head to Indianapolis; Pete Carroll updates cornerback depth

UPDATED: Sat., Sept. 11, 2021

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll talks with strong safety Quandre Diggs before an NFL preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 28 in Seattle.  (Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll talks with strong safety Quandre Diggs before an NFL preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 28 in Seattle. (Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Pete Carroll’s seen just about everything in a football coaching career that dates to 1974.

But he’s not sure he’s seen what he did Friday – a Seahawks game status report that was completely blank.

NFL teams are required Friday for Sunday games to declare if players are out, doubtful or questionable due to injury (doubtful meaning only a 25% chance of playing; questionable meaning a 50% chance of playing).

Seattle’s status report Friday listed no one in any of the three categories, meaning all 53 players on the team’s active roster are considered healthy and ready to play when the team kicks off its regular-season opener at 10 a.m. Sunday at Indianapolis.

“I don’t remember another time,” Carroll said.

That list does not include players who have been placed on injured reserve.

Seattle currently has seven. But of those seven, four could be back after the third game, with Seattle losing only two players during camp who are out for the season – linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven and receiver John Ursua, who each suffered ACL injuries in the second preseason game.

Carroll said the only other season he could remember when Seattle had as few players on IR at this time was 2014, the year after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and then went on to another one.

“That’s a good thing,” Carroll said. “It’s a real positive.”

Carroll said he thinks there are “a lot of elements” that went into the healthy camp and preseason. One is that the Seahawks held out most of their starters and key players in preseason games – Seattle held out 22, 23 and 31 players in their respective three preseason games.

Seattle never had held out so many from playing even a single down in the preseason. Carroll said the experience of last season, when no preseason games were held due to COVID-19, was a factor. Even without a preseason, Seattle got off to one of its best starts in winning its first five games.

“I think it contributed (to the team’s current health),” Carroll said of holding out key players. “You can’t really say (for certain), but it did help us out.”

Another factor that made it easier to hold out key players is that many other teams also approached the preseason that way, lessening any worry about a competitive disadvantage in getting players ready for the season.

Carroll said the way Seattle approached its preseason “is not a real definite, definitive science. But we’re getting a feel for it. We felt liked it worked out well.”

Seattle listed only three players on the practice participation report Friday, with offensive linemen Duane Brown and Gabe Jackson held out as resting vets and receiver DK Metcalf listed as limited with a sore calf.

Everybody else was a full participant.

While Seattle had a clean sheet with its injury report, the Colts listed three players as out – cornerback Xavier Rhodes, tackle Eric Fisher and defensive end Kemoko Turay. The nine-year veteran Rhodes was listed as the starter at one corner spot and will likely be replaced by second-year player BoPete Keyes. Fisher is Indy’s starting left tackle and will likely be replaced by Julien Davenport. Turay is a backup end.

Blair, Amadi battling for nickel spot

Carroll reiterated that Seattle’s starting outside corners will be Tre Flowers on the right side and D.J. Reed on the left.

Reed missed much of the preseason with a hip injury and then was moved to the right side after the final preseason game.

But Carroll said Reed has “looked great on the practice field and has done everything that we’ve expected him to do” in solidifying the spot. And the only players behind those two are three who have all been acquired since Aug. 25 – John Reid, Sidney Jones and Blessuan Austin.

Reid has been with the Seahawks the longest, playing in the final preseason game. As a result, Carroll said Reid is the readiest to contribute. Carroll said of Jones and Austin, “There has not been enough time to really call it” that they are ready to play.

That was essentially a statement that for now, Reid, a fourth-round pick out of Houston in 2020 who started one game for the Texans last year, is the team’s third cornerback.

Carroll also said that the nickel spot remains an open competition between third-year players Ugo Amadi and Marqiuse Blair.

Blair, a second-round pick in 2019, won the job a year ago, but Amadi, a fourth-round pick in 2019, took over after Blair suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game.

“They’re still in competition,” Carroll said. “They both did everything we would hope they could do and they haven’t declared yet who’s on top of that, so we just let the comp continue.”

Carroll earlier said he wouldn’t rule out that the team could use both players regularly and interchangeably at nickel. Seattle also could get both on the field in other specialty packages, particularly six-defensive backs looks, something the Seahawks have been more open to using the past two years.

According to Football Outsiders, Seattle had six defensive backs on the field on 7% of defensive snaps last year, something the Seahawks rarely did in the Legion of Boom days.

But a desire to play Amadi and Blair – as well as Ryan Neal, who also saw time in nickel and dime situations last year – could entice the Seahawks to use more six-defensive back looks this season.

Daily testing means no restrictions for unvaccinated players

Carroll said the Seahawks have two unvaccinated players. But he said there is no restriction on them as the team makes its first regular-season road trip of the year since unvaccinated players are tested daily.

“When they test every day, we know everything’s fine,” Carroll said. “… So they travel like everybody else. But they do wear masks.”

Associated press Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson signs autographs for fans before an NFL preseason football game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 28 in Seattle.

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