The Seahawks have been hit hard with injuries at the skill positions early in camp — so hard that Pete Carroll quipped Sunday, “We’ve got a bunch of hamstrings on the receivers. They all have two.”
**Bass drum, cymbal crash**
Minor injuries early in camp are pretty common — and not a big concern as long as the team handles them with patience. But, when the injuries stack up at one position, it can cause a domino effect as other players become overworked.
That is what the Seahawks have been trying to avoid through the first 10 days of camp as they have lost five receivers, three tight ends, three running backs and two fullbacks.
A week into camp, it’s a good time to assess the Seahawks’ injury situation. Pete Carroll provided updates after the scrimmage today:
FS Earl Thomas (shoulder), who came off PUP this week, is still a couple of weeks away from practicing with the team. The Hawks removed him from PUP so he could participate in walk-through practices.
Carroll said, “He can get in there and get all of his reps there. There’s 50-something snaps in walk-through that he wasn’t able to get under the conditions of the PUP. So now he’s back and at least he’s getting half the time. It’s still a couple weeks away, but we’re getting closer and we’re trying to get him involved so that he can continue to progress too.”
It turns out the Seahawks were not just getting rid of Max Unger in the Jimmy Graham deal.
Saints coach Sean Payton specifically asked John Schneider about acquiring the former Pro Bowl center, and then the two sides began talking about compensation.
The first-round pick the Hawks included in the deal made it seem as if Seattle had approached New Orleans about Graham, but that’s not the way it happened, according to Schneider and other sources.
“They had strong interest in Max,” the Seattle GM told 710 ESPN. “They really want to fix their center positon (and) concentrate on their defense. For us, it was, ‘OK, who are the players involved?’ (Graham) came into the fray and we started talking about it.”
The Saints apparently were still at odds with Graham over the franchise tag battle last year, when the tagged him as a tight end and he filed a grievance seeking to be tagged as a wide receiver, which would have paid him about $5 million more. He ended up signing a four-year, $40 million contract.
Now the Hawks have him for the final three years of that deal — assuming they don’t change it or he somehow doesn’t work out.
This is the latest — and perhaps best — chance for the Seahawks to create the kind of tight-end-focused offense they have tried in the past.
The Seahawks have had a tumultuous season at tight end, so why stop now?
Zach Miller has been on IR since midseason, and Tony Moeaki and Cooper Helfet have been taking turns sitting out games for the past month — leaving Luke Willson to alternate great weeks with horrendous ones.
Tony Moeaki has made a heck of an impact in just three games with the Seahawks.
The tight end scored a touchdown in his first game — against his old team, Kansas City. He led the Hawks with four catches in the win against Arizona, making two first downs. And then he pulled off Seattle’s longest play of the year — a 63-yard gain that maybe should have been a 64-yard touchdown — against San Francisco.
It has been a heck of a start for a guy general manager John Schneider picked up four weeks ago to replace Zach Miller, who is out for the season with an ankle injury.
Russell Wilson already loves Moeaki and looks for him in key spots, like the broken play that resulted in the 63-yard pass play.
“Moeaki, man, that’s a tremendous football player,” Wilson said Thursday after the Seahawks’ 19-3 win over the 49ers. “He knows what to do, he runs tremendous routes, he has a great feel for the game, get in and out of his routes at the right time, he has unbelievable hands. His adjustment to us is pretty spectacular to see in terms of how quickly he has made a difference. We are excited to have him on our team and to see all the plays he makes.”
Because the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last season, it is easy to forget that half of their roster is comprised of players with less than three years of experience.
Starters Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin, J.R. Sweezy and Jermaine Kearse are only in their third seasons, and 21 more of the 53 players on the roster have not yet played three seasons. Eleven others are in just their fourth seasons.
The Seahawks barely used any of their rookies in 2013, relying largely on veterans — and that’s a loose term, considering some of them had just one or two years of experience.
So, coming into this season, the Hawks in effect had almost two full rookie classes. And the questions were: Would any of the remaining 2013 rookies step up to replace departed free agents and would the 2014 class redshirt as most of the 2013 class did?
Due to injuries and one big trade, the answers are yes and no, as many young players have stepped forward in recent weeks.
Earlier this year, there was a chance Zach Miller would not be with the Seahawks. But he took a pay cut to stay, and Seattle did not have to find out how the absence of the multi-faceted tight end would affect the offense.
Well, now they will have to find out.
The Seahawks — while banged up in the secondary — had not experienced any front-line losses so far this season. But they joined the rest of the battered NFL when they lost Miller for several weeks due to ankle surgery.
While Kam Chancellor found a way to play through his bone spurs, Miller apparently could not.