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Analysis: Seahawks holding mandatory minicamp this week. Here are five things we learned during OTAs

June 6, 2022 Updated Mon., June 6, 2022 at 7:02 p.m.

Former WSU tackle Abraham Lucas stands during a game against Portland State on Sept. 11 in Pullman.  (Tribune News Service)
Former WSU tackle Abraham Lucas stands during a game against Portland State on Sept. 11 in Pullman. (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON, Wash. – After two weeks of Organized Team Activities the Seahawks will hold their mandatory minicamp this week.

It still won’t be like the real thing without full pads or contact allowed.

But it will be the closest thing to it until the Seahawks regroup for training camp in late July.

Players reported and had physicals Monday, with practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Two workouts are allowed each day totaling three-and-a-half hours per day (the second practice each day must be a walkthrough).

Since it’s mandatory, everyone is expected to be in attendance, though the handful of players still rehabbing injuries such as DK Metcalf, Chris Carson, Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Tre Brown and Marquise Blair aren’t expected to participate on the field.

As the Seahawks prepare for minicamp, let’s review five things we’ve learned so far during the offseason program.

1. The QB race remains wide open

Veteran Geno Smith remains atop the depth chart ahead of Drew Lock and running the first-team offense. That was to be expected with his three years’ experience in Seattle and starting three games last season, while Lock is still getting the hang of the offense after coming over from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade. The two are expected to do more sharing with the first offense as the offseason program and training camp progress.

Nothing will be decided now and it won’t be a surprise if the competition lasts through all three preseason games in August.

But for Lock in particular, minicamp will be important in showing he is continuing to grasp the offense.

2. Back end receiving spots will be intriguing

The Seahawks added veteran Marquise Goodwin, one of the fastest receivers in the NFL, two weeks ago as OTAs opened. Goodwin signed a risk-free deal that includes just $152,500 guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. His presence sent a signal that the roles for the receivers at the back end of the depth chart – after Metcalf and Tyler Lockett – are far from assured. Two returners, Dee Eskridge and Penny Hart, appear to be responding to the added competition the way the team would hope.

Eskridge, the team’s first pick in the draft a year ago at 56th overall, has been a highlight so far, staying healthy and on the field with his speed evident.

“When he’s been able to get out there and stack those days together and he looks impressive, he looks like he always did in our evaluation of him coming out,” offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said last week.

Waldron also cited Hart, who has played 30 games the last two years with most of his action on special teams, as showing well.

One disappointment so far has been that rookie seventh-round picks Bo Melton and Dareke Young have been out with injuries.

But with Lockett, Metcalf and Eskridge taking three of what may be five or six receiving roster spots, the battle between Goodwin, Freddie Swain, Hart, Young and Melton – and maybe holdovers Cody Thompson and Aaron Fuller – for the final two or three spots will be fun to watch in camp.

3. Lucas competes for starting right tackle

As expected, first-round pick Charles Cross has consistently worked with the first team at left tackle ahead of second-year player Stone Forsythe. He’s usually been paired on the first team with second-year player Jake Curhan on the right side.

As Waldron noted Thursday, the Seahawks will do a lot of mixing and matching between first and second units, and Abraham Lucas got some work with the first team during Thursday’s OTA open to the media. Lucas, who was an All-Pac-12 offensive lineman at Washington State, was taken by Seattle in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft

Nothing will be set until the pads go on in training camp. But the Seahawks remain just fine with the prospect of starting two rookies at the tackle spots.

“If it’s the two rookies, that means that they’ve beat out some guys that are good players in their own right,” Waldron said last week. “… if those guys go out and earn that job, then you feel comfortable because they’ve earned it over other guys that have had a chance to play and play well in the NFL.”

4. Brooks, Barton becoming leaders

OTAs began with coach Pete Carroll confirming that third-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks will take over Bobby Wagner’s role of wearing the helmet with the headpiece that allows him to get the play call from the coaches and relay it to the rest of the team.

That move illustrates the team’s confidence that Brooks can build on the 184-tackle season he had year ago – a team record – to become an elite linebacker.

Almost as critical to the success of the defense this year will be Cody Barton playing the other ILB spot in the new 3-4 scheme.

Some observers continue to wonder if the Seahawks would add another veteran to the ILB corps. But the offseason program has reiterated the Seahawks are riding with Brooks and Barton.

“Really excited for him, for the opportunity,” defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said last week of Barton, a fourth-year player who has seven career starts including playoffs. “For him, it’s just the opportunity being there. The effort, the attention to detail for Cody has always been a part of it but now he has a great opportunity and he’s had a really nice spring so far.”

5. Remember the name Artie Burns

The cornerback spot will be hard for the Seahawks to sort out until Brown returns – the team hopes that’s in time for training camp – and until they see what they have in rookies Cody Bryant and Tariq Woolen.

The starting cornerbacks have been Sidney Jones on the left side and Artie Burns on the right, with Justin Coleman playing nickel. (Woolen and Bryant have worked with the second time on the right and left sides, respectively.)

Burns is a 2016 first-round pick of the Steelers who has 38 career starts, including six starts with the Bears last year when he played for Sean Desai, who was Chicago’s defensive coordinator and is the Seahawks’ associate head coach for defense.

Burns got a $1 million bonus to sign, indicating at least some expectation of him making the roster this season, and he’s appeared to make a strong case for a legitimate role in the fall.

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