The Seahawks embarked on their summer vacation in high spirits — all the apparent negativity of last season and this offseason seemingly dissolved in a big pool of love and happiness. And they seem very focused.
As the Hawks conducted their minicamp last week, we heard nothing but positive things from Seattle’s top defenders. Earl Thomas is healthy again, in mind and body. Kam Chancellor has polished up his once-dented leadership armor. Richard Sherman sounded like a team player again. And Michael Bennett is physically lighter but still philosophically heavy.
The players seemed of one accord, ready to get back on the Super track. And Pete Carroll said his team is as mentally sharp as it ever has been heading into summer.
“I think we had our most compliant OTA season and really proud of that, finally,” he said, referring to penalties levied against his club for overdoing it in past years. “Old dog, new tricks, man. It was hard. But we finally figured it out. And, in doing so, we were able to up the reps that we got on guys.
“I think we’re the smartest we’ve been coming out of this camp than any of the past years. We’ve had the most situation work. We’ve had the chance to put guys in all variety of spots that they have to think and make decisions and choose how they play and fit in with us. So we just feel like we’ve made a lot of movement forward. We have a lot of stuff to get done in camp that does not fit this time of year. This is OTA football. Not real football. That will come.”
Before it does, let’s take a look at how the roster stands …
Lock: Russell Wilson.
Other contenders: Trevone Boykin, Austin Davis.
Pre-camp outlook: Wilson has recovered from his bevy of injuries and has the public support of Seattle’s defensive stars as he aims to regain his late 2015 form. Boykin, still facing possible legal trouble, and the veteran Davis are the current contenders for the No. 2 spot — though that certainly could change.
Carroll said: “Austin did really well. Amazingly bright football player. He blew us away with how fast he could pick stuff up. He brings more playtime experience … that we treasure. He’s been there, he’s played games and all that. Trevone hasn’t had that and can’t have that yet. It’s been a good mix so far. We brought (Davis) in and we’ll make these evaluations as we get back, but I think Austin showed very well for himself. He’s got his own style. He’s a different style player than Trevone or Russell, of course, but I kind of like what he brought us.”
Locks: Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise.
Other contenders: Alex Collins, Chris Carson, Mike Davis, Tre Madden, Kyle Coleman (FB), Algernon Brown (FB).
Injury report: Lacy is coming off an ankle injury and on a strict weight plan, but he seems to be making great progress. Rawls and Prosise are both healthy — the big question is whether they can stay that way once the hitting starts.
Pre-camp outlook: Lacy, Rawls and Prosise are expected to share carries — a move that could help them all stay healthy. Carroll is as excited about Prosise as ever, especially because he stayed healthy and “started to add up some days finally” during OTAs/minicamp. Collins and Carson figure to fight for the fourth tailback spot. At fullback, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Hawks ended up adding someone else (Marcel Reece is still unsigned).
Carroll said: “I think it’s an exciting group. We’ve never been this strong with this many guys who can compete and do things. We have a variety of different guys that have different strengths that they bring. … But the group is really competitive and it’s going to be hard to come up with enough snaps with these guys to figure it out, but we’ll do the best we can.”
Locks: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Jermaine Kearse, Amara Darboh.
Other contenders: Tanner McEvoy, Kasen Williams, Kenny Lawler, David Moore, Cyril Grayson, Darreus Rogers, Rodney Smith.
Injury report: Lockett is still coming back from a broken leg and probably will be limited early in camp. But expect him to be ready for the opener. McEvoy (toe surgery) seems likely to start out on PUP or even go straight to IR. Carroll called the surgery “a big setback.”
Pre-camp outlook: This could be the most competitive camp at Seattle’s receiver position since Carroll took over, and it’s possible the talent will dictate a sixth receiver being kept. Darboh is considered a lock entering camp due to his third-round pedigree, and it seems unlikely the veteran Kearse will get bumped this year — even though he is coming off a rough year.
Darrell Bevell said: “It’s a deep group, and there’s a lot of potential there. There’s just so much stuff that they’re trying to absorb. We threw everything at them so that they have a good knowledge of what will be coming at them, and they’ve been able to pick it up well. Darboh and Moore and those guys, they’re doing a great job. Cyril looks good. There’s a lot of depth there that we’ll have some tough choices to make.”
Locks: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett.
Other contenders: Marcus Lucas, Tyrone Swoopes, Steve Donatell.
Pre-camp outlook: The Hawks kept four last season, but they don’t have a fourth as good as Brandon Williams. And they want to get Vannett into the action more this year. Graham and Willson are both free agents after the season, and the Hawks seem likely to keep only one of them in 2018, so Vannett will need to prove worthy of the No. 2 spot for next year.
Carroll said: “I think Jimmy’s offseason is a big highlight for us. You know, last year at this time we didn’t know what he was going to be like. … He had a phenomenal offseason (this year) and great work with us. His preparation to get here was just terrific.”
Locks: Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Luke Joeckel, Mark Glowinski, Ethan Pocic, Rees Odhiambo, George Fant, Oday Aboushi.
Other contenders: Jordan Roos, Joey Hunt, Robert Myers, Justin Senior, Will Pericak.
Injury report: Joeckel is coming off an ACL injury and likely will ease into camp, but he should be ready for the season.
Pre-camp outlook: Heading into camp, it appears the first five are (L-R) Fant, Joeckel, Britt, Glowinski, Ifedi. But it would be no surprise if three or four of those players moved around or out, leaving something like Joeckel, Odhiambo, Britt, Pocic, Ifedi. The last spot seems to be a battle between Hunt and Roos. The talent certainly seems better than it was in 2017; but, until they pick five and let them play together, this group isn’t going to be very good.
Carroll said: “I think probably the biggest area that we’re going to see us grow is in offensive line play. I think you’re going to see a change in the group and an elevation of their awareness based on that one year of experience. Coming back for a sophomore year, things just jump. George will tell you that, Britt will tell you that, Glow will tell you that, Ifedi — they’ll all tell you how much different it looks to them after a year in the bag. So we’re expecting a big jump there and a really competitive camp coming up.”
Locks: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Athyba Rubin, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh, Malik McDowell, Nazair Jones.
Other contenders: Quinton Jefferson, Jeremy Liggins, Garrison Smith, Shaneil Jenkins, Dion Jordan, Tylor Harris, Davis Bass, Nick Usher.
Injury report: Jefferson, who missed his rookie season with a knee injury, is a candidate for PUP as he continues to recover. Jordan had knee surgery after coming to Seattle and seems a long shot to make the team now. Avril had groin surgery this offseason but should be fine for camp.
Pre-camp outlook: The Hawks have a great front four and are deep in the pass rush. McDowell and Jones will be expected to help the interior of the line, McDowell in the pass rush and Jones vs. the run. Basically, there is one spot up for grabs.
Kris Richard said: “(McDowell is) a body type that we haven’t had around here in a long time: 6-6, 300 pounds. He’s got length, he’s got speed, he’s got strength. So being able to have him either 3-technique and playing at end, whichever we decide to play him, I think there’s going to be a level of athleticism there that it’s been a while since we’ve had that around here. What he has really shown is the aptitude. The ability to learn, the ability to take what we’re coaching him and fix the mistakes he is making. We’re seeing a guy getting better every day.”
Locks: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Michael Wilhoite, Terence Garvin.
Other contenders: Kevin Pierre-Louis, Arthur Brown, Kache Palacio, Nick Usher, Ronald Powell, Otha Peters.
Injury report: Wilhoite was hobbled by injuries this offseason but is expected to be a great veteran addition to the defense.
Pre-camp outlook: The Hawks went the veteran route to fortify this position, replacing Mike Morgan and Brock Coyle with Wilhoite, Garvin and Brown. Brown seems likely to make the team — he has been working behind Wagner. KPL also is likely to stick again, but he needs to stay healthy.
Richard said: “Mike Wilhoite … hasn’t had the opportunity to compete with us out here on the field, but I’ll say that he’s a true professional. He always asks the right questions; he’s always involved. I think he’s got a really great understanding for the game. … Terence has been doing a really good job out there for us at Sam linebacker. He’s also taken some reps at nickel Will, so he’s showing a versatility that we’re going to need. … Arthur Brown has done a real good job; we have him playing Mike linebacker. We’re throwing a bunch of stuff at these guys — they’ve been in different systems before — but the progress has been really positive, and we’re excited for where it’s going to go.”
Locks: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, DeShawn Shead (inj), Jeremy Lane, Neiko Thorpe, Shaq Griffin, Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill.
Other contenders: DeAndre Elliott, Tedric Thompson, Dewey McDonald, Pierre Desir, Mike Tyson, Demetrius McCray, Jordan Simone, Marcus Cromartie.
Injury report: Shead almost surely will start the season on PUP. Carroll said he does not expect him to be ready for the season. “I don’t think we’ll be pushing him on that regard,” Carroll said. Thomas is already back in action from a broken leg suffered last November. Carroll probably will ease him into camp — no reason not to — but Thomas should be 100 percent for Week 1. Chancellor had surgery on both ankles but said he is feeling great.
Pre-camp outlook: The big battle will be for Shead’s spot at right corner, with Lane and Griffin probably the top contenders and Thorpe a possibility (he signed a two-year deal to return). Richard said Griffin has “probably one of the best corner minds that we’ve had for a young guy around here.” The coaches have “some things in mind for” McDougald, who figures to play a lot in nickel situations, plus relieve both Thomas and Chancellor as needed. Richard said rookie draftees Hill and Thompson “look like they’ve been playing with each other a very long time. Communications, disguising, moving around, doing all that kind of cool stuff, they kind of picked it up really fast.”
Carroll said: “Jeremy has really applied himself. He sees the opportunity. He’s really going for it. Everybody’s evaluation of Jeremy across the entire program is that he’s really focused, he’s really tuned in, he’s really ready to go for it. He’s physically as fit as he’s been in a long time. Remember, he had a really difficult offseason a couple years back and it’s taken him almost a couple years to overcome all of that, and he’s back to full form. But, more than that, his focus is really on it to seize this opportunity.”
Lock: Jon Ryan.
Other contenders: Blair Walsh, Tyler Ott, Nolan Frese.
Pre-camp outlook: Walsh was signed to replace Steven Hauschka, but the former Minnesota kicker reportedly was shaky during offseason workouts and it wouldn’t be a shock at all if the Hawks ended up replacing him in August or early in the season. Expect them to add a second kicker before camp. Ott seems a good bet to beat out Frese for the long-snapping gig.