Malik McDowell's legacy, Shaquem Griffin's position and more were among our 12 takeaways from the first day of Seahawks' training camp.
The first day of Seahawks’ training camp annually yields all kinds of news, notes and observations.
Here are, well, 12, in no particular order.
Safety may get all the attention, but the defensive line is becoming a big concern for the Seahawks, as well.
True, it’ll be impossible not to focus on how the Seahawks are going to replace Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, should Thomas’ holdout last into the regular season.
But in Bradley McDougald the Seahawks at least have one proven player to depend on. And the Seahawks seem high on veteran Maurice Alexander and 2017 draft picks Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson. Mike Tyson was also getting lots of work at safety on Thursday as well, though you’d assume the other two 2017 draftees are ahead of him on the depth chart at this point. And who knows? Maybe the Seahawks go ahead and make a move to bring in someone else from the outside if the Thomas situation lingers (to reiterated, Eric Reid?) For now, figure that Alexander, Hill and Thompson are in one big competition to play alongside McDougald, who could play either free or strong.
“This is a real fascinating challenge to me, to see how we tweak it and fix it so we can put these guys in the best position to get the most out of them,” coach Pete Carroll said following Thursday’s practice.
But the defensive line is becoming more curious with the news of yet another injury to Dion Jordan, who may be out until mid-August or so with what the team officially categorized as an “undisclosed injury’’ that came out of recent workouts.
Jordan has played just five games since 2014 and was limited in the spring due to a minor knee surgery. The team is hoping Jordan can step into Michael Bennett’s left defensive end spot, but they need to see him consistently on the field before really being able to count on anything. Frank Clark was also limited Thursday as he recovers from hand surgery last month (something I’ll have more on in a story Friday). Not sure I’d worry too much about Clark —- he didn’t seem overly worried about it.
But Jordan is another matter, and if his injuries linger, it may be even more urgent for Seattle to bring in some additional pass rush help — if it can find any.
Thursday made it officially, officially official that Malik McDowell will go down as one of the most ill-fated draft picks in team history.
McDowell’s waiving Thursday, long in the offing, hardly even seemed like news by the time it finally happened.
But when it did finally arrive, it put to an end to what will go down as one of the more unhappy chapters in Seahawks history.
Okay, so there was no way for the Seahawks to know McDowell would get in an ATV accident, so maybe it’s harsh to call it a bad pick. And it’s also worth remembering that the trades Seattle made to move down and get McDowell resulted in the Seahawks also getting Hill, Chris Carson, Thompson and Tyson.
Should just two of those players really turn out — Carson is already on his way if he can stay healthy —- then the Seahawks will be able to rightly say the legacy of the situation shouldn’t be tied solely to what happened with McDowell.
But as just one pick, McDowell will go down as one of the most infamous in Seahawks history. Not only did his injury deprive Seattle of a player the team was counting on to help lead it into a new era defensively but also resulted in the Seahawks having to then make a trade for Sheldon Richardson, which turned into a one-year rental with a mixed legacy of its own.
And suffice to say the defensive line situation would look a little better now if McDowell had turned into what the team hoped.
One more thought on McDowell …
McDowell now also officially becomes the highest pick in Seahawks history to never play a down for the team (with Rashaad Penny still to make his debut).
To find the next-highest drafted pick by the Seahawks to never play in the NFL — which is what it looks like could happen for McDowell — you have to go to Robert Barr, an offensive tackle from Rutgers taken 77th overall in 1996, according to Pro Football Reference.
Running back Owen Gill, taken 53rd overall by Seattle in 1985, was memorably by Seattle before his rookie season simply for not having done enough to earn a roster spot. But Gill did go on to play 32 games with the Colts and Rams over the next three seasons.
The offensive line looked the same Thursday as it did in the spring.
The Seahawks are touting continuity on the line, and Thursday the starters were as expected — left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi.
George Fant and Rees Odhiambo remain limited due to injuries from last season, so the number two line looked like this: RT Isaiah Battle, RG Willie Beavers, center Joey Hunt, LG Jordan Roos and LT Jamarco Jones. Carroll said Fant will start out at LT when he returns and Odhiambo can be used at both guard and tackle — it’ll be interesting to see if he gets thrown into the RT mix. If not, then Ifedi’s prime competition might just be Battle.
There was an interesting player working in the middle with Bobby Wagner limited.
Wagner sat out team drills and Carroll said the team is just trying to manage his reps at this point. With Wagner out, the backup middle linebacker with the ones was undrafted rookie free agent Emmanuel Beal of Oklahoma. This is the time of year when the team tries a lot of different things so it’s always risky to read too much into lineup stuff. But Beal appears to be one off-the-radar player to watch early on.
Right cornerback is going to be real interesting to watch, too.
Shaquill Griffin is set as the left corner, taking over for the departed Richard Sherman. Byron Maxwell got the first reps at right cornerback and for now is the leader for that spot. But Neiko Thorpe quickly rotated into that spot and rookie Tre Flowers also got lots of work there. Carroll afterward portrayed it as one big competition.
“Those guys are going to be battling over there,’’ Carroll said, adding that it will be a fascination competition “to keep your eye on.’’
Dontae Johnson, a starter last season with the 49ers, could also be a factor once he comes off the PUP list. He is still rehabbing a foot injury suffered in the spring.
“I don’t think he’s any longer than two weeks,” Carroll said of Johnson. “I don’t think so. I might be optimistic on that one. But he’s healing and everything’s gone right and all that, they just got to clear him and just really scans and X-rays and stuff like that.”
Photos | Seahawks training camp Day 1
Alex McGough got most of the second-team QB reps, but that doesn’t mean anything yet.
Carroll said in the spring the team will give more work to McGough, a rookie, than to Austin Davis because they have a pretty good read on what Davis — the backup a year ago, and a seven-year vet –can do.
McGough was a little hit-and-miss. He threw an interception to linebacker Jacob Martin and also misconnected with an open Cyril Grayson on a deep pass. But he also showed the athleticism the team likes when he tucked the ball and scooted up the middle for a long gain. There is no tackling in these — and QBs are never hit — so you take those plays with a grain of salt. But the burst he showed on the play is something the Seahawks will have noticed.
Don’t forget about C.J. Prosise.
The Seahawks had a relatively lengthy injury and transactions list Thursday. But not on it anywhere was Prosise, the third-year tailback out of Notre Dame who has played just 11 games his first two seasons.
Prosise, though, has been healthy throughout the spring program and was again Thursday battling for a spot in the tailback rotation. If he can stay healthy he projects as the favorite for the third-down, two-minute back role. Chris Carson and Penny typically got the first reps in the base offense.
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As for which tailback looked the best, these early practices are not a real great judge since there are no pads and no real contact. But Carroll did say he thought they all handled their pass protection assignments well, which is a pretty big, if subtle, factor in who plays how much and where.
Your daily kicking update …
The kicking competition is going to be a fun one to watch between Jason Myers and Sebastian Janikowski. Each got three kicks in live drills today from what I saw, with each making all three. But while we will keep a running tally on this, the kicking battle is not one that will likely be decided early.
Shaquem Griffin for now remains at weakside linebacker.
The safety situation has led some to wonder if the Seahawks might consider using Griffin at that spot. But for now, he is solidly a weakside linebacker, working throughout Thursday’s practice as the backup to veteran K.J. Wright.
“We just really want to see him keep growing and understand the position,’’ Carroll said. “He has not played a lot behind the line of scrimmage so it’s important for him to just get the feel for it and to utilize his instincts and his speed. We’re really trying to get him to utilize the run-through principles that he has the ability to do, and the chase and the scrape type of abilities because he’s so fast. He gained a lot of ground here in the offseason. The last week (of minicamp) was his best week so we’re hoping when we come back, we’ll see more of that and just more comfort. He is a pass defender. You can see that already, so we just need to make sure that he’s making progress.’’
Jacob Martin might be one to watch at strongside linebacker.
Veteran free agent Barkevious Mingo is the front-runner for the SLB spot. But Martin, a sixth-round pick out of Temple, turned in one of the plays of the day with his interception of McGough. Martin has so far shown a good ability to cover out of the backfield.
“In college, they played him on the edge and rushed him all the time, which he can do,” Carroll said. “He’s got it in his package there, but we all thought that if we worked him at the SAM linebacker spot, we might be able to use that in pressure situations, still rush him on third downs but also make him a linebacker for us for the competition of it all. That was great to see him make a play today. He’s a really grinding, physical athlete, man. We love the way he brings it. All offseason, he proved that to us. We saw it the first day and off we go. We got a long ways to go, though.”
The front-line receivers seem pretty well set but the rest remains a jumble.
As expected, when the Seahawks went to three-receiver sets, the starters were Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown.
The backups typically included some combination of Amara Darboh, David Moore, Marcus Johnson and Damore’ea Stringfellow.
Brandon Marshall, meanwhile, didn’t do much after the individual drills with Carroll saying he will be eased in. We probably have to wait until we see Marshall do a lot to really get a sense as to how the rest of the receiving situation will develop since he looms as the big wild card in all of this.
Of Marshall, still rehabbing ankle and toe injuries, Carroll said: “We’re going to ramp him up. He’s ready for camp, but we want to make sure that we bring him in — there are a number of guys that we are progressing along to make sure that the comeback is real and they feel good about it and we build them up and don’t rush. Brandon is one of those guys.”