One week into summer camp — and a week before the first preseason game — the Seahawks have had a few injury concerns pop up but also seem to be making progress in rebuilding their team.
Injuries to Doug Baldwin and Dion Jordan, especially, have some fans fairly concerned about receiver and pass rush.
Here’s a look at developments at each position so far and our concern level (5 being very worried):
Brian Schottenheimer reportedly is teaching Russell Wilson patience in the pocket. “Stop, look, then throw or run for your life.” The backup QB competition seems muted at this point, with the rookie Alex McGough displaying the typical inconsistencies.
Schottenheimer said: “Obviously Alex and Austin (Davis) have been going toe to toe. Alex has got a lot of talent, a lot of ability. I think we’ll see that even more when we play games, his ability to move. He’s a big, athletic guy with a strong arm. He’s a little behind mentally just because he’s a rookie quarterback; there’s nothing new about that. Austin obviously is much more comfortable in the system. So, we’re giving Alex a fair share of the work just because we know Austin knows what he needs to do, and Austin has been great about that. He’s trying to help Alex. Again, it’s a fun competition and the games will go a long way to determine that battle.”
Concern score: 1. One of the main reasons for optimism with this reloading team is Wilson, a top-10 QB who has had a winning record in each of his six NFL seasons. He’s the main reason this team’s over/under is 10 wins.
Pete Carroll and coaches are singing the praises of this running back stable because, well, no one has gotten hurt yet. Chris Carson seems to be locked in as the No. 1 right now, and Mike Davis seems to be fifth in the race for four spots at the moment. The fullbacks have been injured, with Tre Madden the only one not to miss time.
Carroll said: “It’s a really, really good group for us. And the way they’ve reported, too … C.J. (Prosise) has never been in this kind of shape. We’ve never seen Chris in better shape. We’re learning about Rashaad (Penny) right now. (J.D.) McKissic is ridiculously fit; he plays so hard every single day. So it’s a very good group.”
Concern score: 3. Health has been an issue with this crew for three seasons — and will remain so until a dependable No. 1 back emerges for the length of a season.
Baldwin’s knee injury is a downer, but it should allow young receivers to get plenty of reps. Brandon Marshall (toe, ankle) has yet to practice, and David Moore (hip flexor) was banged up after a strong start. With those guys out, Jaron Brown, Amara Darboh, Marcus Johnson and Keenan Reynolds have alternately starred.
Carroll said: “It just seems like it’s the same story for these different positions, but it’s a very competitive spot. Guys are just battling and this is a big camp for Darboh, it’s a big camp for David, for those guys to come back after their first year. … We talked about their uniqueness and what kind of stuff we can do with these guys and how we can role-play these guys. We’re figuring that out. It’s a great group.”
Concern score: 3. Baldwin’s absence deprives the group of its leader and experience. If his injury lingers into the season, this score will rocket to a 5. But Tyler Lockett and Brown are young vets who can make plenty of plays for Wilson. It will be interesting to see whether Marshall has anything left and can knock out a younger guy for a spot.
Ed Dickson (groin) is on NFI, which has given younger guys the chance to shine. Will Dissly apparently has shown his blocking prowess already, and Tyrone Swoopes is making a run at a spot. Nick Vannett had better watch out.
Carroll said: “One of the most exciting guys to see in this camp for us is Tyrone because we know that he has the littlest background at this spot. … He’s had a great offseason. He’s athletic, he’s physical. He’s not just a run-and-catch guy like you might think because he’s a (former) QB. He’s got enough physicality to play on the line of scrimmage and block people. I believe that’s going to show up in this camp, so we’re really excited to see what he does. He’s right in the middle of the competition.”
Concern score: 2. Hopefully the team is just being cautious with Dickson, who is expected to lead a revamped TE position.
D.J. Fluker has been limited, so the team brought back J.R. Sweezy, who was very dependable during his four years in Seattle but struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness in Tampa. Duane Brown got an important extension, which means three-fifths of the unit — Brown, Justin Britt, Ethan Pocic — are locked up for at least the next three years. Germain Ifedi is working to nail down right tackle and join that core trio. George Fant is sticking to the left side for now, but Isaiah Battle could be pushing at right tackle.
Mike Solari said: “We’re going to keep George grounded at the left tackle, but he’s got to be ready to adjust. The best five start, so we’ll adjust accordingly if needed.”
Concern score: 3. The guard spots and Ifedi are all question marks until we see them playing well together in Solari’s scheme. And we fully expect that to happen.
Jordan’s ongoing injury issues are not a good sign, and it won’t be a surprise if he misses the first six games as he remains on PUP. That has a lot of folks uptight about a short-staffed pass rush — because Jordan was expected to replace Michael Bennett. But Frank Clark should be healthy and ready to roll by the opener, and the team is working Barkevious Mingo, Marcus Smith and rookies Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin in rush packages. Martin has received raves from coaches, and K.J. Wright thinks Green is going to have an excellent rookie season. Clark said one of the tackles has to step up as a rusher, too, but that also could be Green, who is expected to fill Bennett’s inside-out role. Don’t discount Nazair Jones and even Branden Jackson as factors in the rush either.
Carroll said: “What we’re seeing now is a combination of guys (in the pass rush). Frank isn’t getting all the work yet, but we know Frank can be a really good edge rusher. Marcus and Barkevious are going to be big kind of speed guys for us, but really excited about Jacob Martin and what he’s shown the first couple of days. He’s shown a lot of burst and a lot of intensity with his rush. Those four guys may be the guys that make up the speed rush until Dion is part of that as well.”
Concern score: 3. Yeah, the Hawks need to find a way to replace Bennett’s production, but Carroll wasn’t ever counting solely on Jordan. There are enough options, inside and out, to keep the Hawks competitive here. But Mingo, Smith, Green and Martin all need to prove it.
Bobby Wagner and Wright have embraced their roles as the undisputed leaders of the defense, and it’s hard to doubt them when they speak so confidently about this defense rising again under their guidance. Mingo is expected to man the part-time SAM position, rotating at LEO with Smith and Martin on rush downs. Shaquem Griffin has impressed everyone with his speed and savvy, and the one-handed rookie showed some ball skills with a pick of a pass by Russell Wilson on Day 4. One unusual occurrence in Week 1: Josh Perry retired due to concussion issues.
Ken Norton Jr. on Griffin: “Any time you turn on the film or out here at practice, you can’t help but see him flying around the field. He had an interception against Russell Wilson yesterday. It’s really exciting to see because he grew from the offseason plays. He’s just getting better every day; there’s nothing to hold him back, and we’re excited he’s on our team.”
Concern score: 1. Led by two Pro Bowl guys and featuring some great speed, this should be a solid group.
Earl Thomas (holdout) and Kam Chancellor (reserve PUP) are gone, and the Hawks have moved on. Bradley McDougald will be one of the safeties, and there’s a three-way race for the other spot. Tedric Thompson was one of the stars of camp in Week 1, and Carroll is eager to see what the hard-hitting Maurice Alexander brings. At corner, Shaquill Griffin has seized the left side and the right side appears to be a three-man race among Byron Maxwell, Neiko Thorpe and rookie Tre Flowers. Dontae Johnson (foot surgery) could be in the mix once he returns in a couple of weeks. The Seahawks reportedly are considering adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as well.
Carroll on Thompson: “He has been really active. He had a couple picks. I think he had five plays broken up two days ago in one practice. Ridiculous numbers. He’s really focused. He’s really tuned into the opportunity he’s going for.”
John Schneider on Thomas: “It’s never fun. We went down this road a couple of years ago with the Kam situation. … We have an outline for how to proceed.”
Concern score: 2. The Hawks have experienced guys at three spots; it’s probably just that last safety position that will feature a new guy. It will come down to which player works best with McDougald. As Norton said, “They have to stay on the deep ball and they have to come up and make plays.”
It sounds like the competition for both kicking gigs will go all month. Sebastian Janikowski and Michael Dickson are the obvious favorites, but Jason Myers and Jon Ryan will not go without a fight. Meanwhile, the Hawks are working out the new kickoff rules, and Brian Schneider has tried Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny in tandem as he tries to get the best combination of blockers and ballcarriers.
Schneider on Keenan Reynolds: “Once he got out here, he reminded me of Baldwin when Baldwin was first out here, you know? They have the same type of movements and he’s been great. He can return punts, he’s playing (personal protector) in our punt team, and we want to see him do a lot of different things because he’s a guy that can do a lot of things. We wanted to see him in a bunch of different situations.”
Concern score: 3. Neither kicker inspires a ton of confidence, particularly from beyond 50 yards. And Janikowski seems likely to run into injury problems at some point in the season.