The Seahawks open minicamp on Tuesday, and Earl Thomas won't be there. But elsewhere on the field, the offensive and defensive lines will be worth keeping an eye on this week.
The big story as the Seahawks open minicamp Tuesday will be the absence of free safety Earl Thomas.
Thomas revealed via Twitter Sunday that he will not take part in any team activities until he has a new contract. Barring a change of heart no one expects, that means Thomas will begin what will be the team’s first official holdout since Kam Chancellor sat out training camp and ultimately missed the first two games of the 2015 season (and third of the Pete Carroll era, the other being Marshawn Lynch in 2014. Chris Clemons also sat out minicamp in 2012 but agreed to a new deal in time for training camp).
But that won’t be all that’s worth monitoring as the Seahawks hit the field this week for the final time before taking off for the summer.
Here are a few other things to watch.
Will Frank Clark and Byron Maxwell show up?
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Like Thomas, Clark and Maxwell also skipped OTAs for voluntary reasons. But Carroll said Thursday he expects them to attend minicamp. True, Carroll also said that about Thomas. But it’s thought Clark and Maxwell will be in attendance.
Clark was apparently making a statement that he’d like a new contract sooner rather than later — he is entering the final season of his four-year rookie deal. It’s unclear if Maxwell, who signed a one-year, $2.2 million deal in April to stay with the Seahawks, was making a similar statement about his deal (possibly having hoped for more) or simply preferring to work out on his own (it’s thought the Seahawks were okay with giving a lot of reps at cornerback during OTAs to younger players such as rookie Tre Flowers, anyway).
But other than Thomas, the expectation is that the other 89 players will be reporting.
What will the safety position look like?
That Thomas is skipping minicamp — with the potential that he’s played his last game as a Seahawk — puts a little more of a spotlight on what the team’s secondary looks like.
Thomas, as noted, has not been around for anything so far. Without him, the Seahawks have typically gone with Bradley McDougald at free safety and Delano Hill at strong safety during OTAs (with Kam Chancellor also out and his future also unclear).
Tedric Thompson has typically been the backup free safety and the team likely envisions free agent Maurice Alexander (who has been limited during OTAs after having had offseason shoulder surgery) as another possibility at strong safety.
The only other listed safeties on the roster are Alex Carter and T.J. Mutcherson, each listed as free safeties.
The Seahawks, though, could consider also using 2017 sixth-round pick Mike Tyson some in safety roles — he was a safety and nickel in college but has been moved primarily to cornerback by Seattle.
What will the defensive line look like?
Maybe somewhat lost in the talk of Thomas and others who have not been there was the news last week that Dion Jordan had another cleanup knee surgery recently, apparently at least his fourth on a knee on which he suffered an ACL injury that caused him to miss the 2016 season.
The team expects Jordan to be ready for training camp in late July and if so, then maybe this isn’t a big deal.
But anything concerning Jordan’s health is worth watching as the team is counting on him to step in for the departed Michael Bennett at the left defensive end spot.
The absence of Jordan and Clark in OTAs had Seattle going with a defensive line during OTAs that typically had Branden Jackson working at left defensive end and Barkevious Mingo and rookie Jacob Martin at the right defensive end/LEO spot. Clark’s expected return for minicamp will bring a little normalcy to it. But Jordan being sidelined means it’ll take into training camp for what projects as Seattle’s starting defensive line to get a chance to work together.
Will the offensive line continue its continuity?
What remains one of the team’s biggest question mark in terms of its performance — the offensive line — has been a relative rock of stability so far in terms of its alignment.
Seattle entered the offseason with a presumed starting five of left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi.
All but Fluker — who sat out much of OTAs to rest his knee — have consistently worked as starters. Fluker joined them when he returned to workouts last week.
Minicamp thus looms as the most extended, serious work the offensive line will get working together this offseason and help lay a foundation for training camp.
As is the case with OTAs, players can wear helmets but they are not in full pads and no contact is permitted. So any assessments of the progress of the offensive line have to be somewhat measured. But the Seahawks are banking in part on experience and continuity in helping the offensive line improve from last season making mini-camp valuable.