Seattle appeared to come through Thursday's game with only one new significant injury, an ankle sprain that could sideline Jamarco Jones for a while, if not the season.
With the Seahawks back on the field Sunday for the first time since their opening preseason game, the biggest thing to watch was if there were significant changes to lineups or personnel that were in any way a reaction to what happened against the Colts.
The short answer is no.
While the final score wasn’t what he wanted (true, who really cares this time of year but then when your motto is “Always Compete’’ it at least means something), Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said a review of the film left him overall more feeling more enthused than negative about what occurred.
After rattling off the names of a number of young players he felt performed well — Rasheem Green, Rashaad Penny, Jacob Martin, Michael Dickson, Will Dissly and Poona Ford specifically — Carroll said “those are such positives that not feeling good about the way the game turned out really was overshadowed by that.’’
Here’s more of what I saw, heard and ultimately thought from Sunday’s practice and Carroll’s media availability afterward.
Rasheem Green impressing with versatility
That Green, a third-round pick out of USC, had 1.5 sacks was readily evident. What may have been a little more subtle is that he played three positions — defensive end, the team’s pass-rushing LEO spot and tackle in the nickel package — and to Carroll did all three seamlessly which he said isn’t easy for a rookie in his first game.
“Did some really good tings you’d hope an experienced player would do,’’ Carroll said adding that Green’s emergence is “a really big plus for us.’’
Indeed, there’s been lots written and said wondering how the Seahawks will be able to replace the likes of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril up front. Green was drafted to specifically fill a Bennett-type role of playing outside in the base defense and inside in the nickel and while there’s a long way to go to prove it for sure, Carroll seems confident Green’s going to be able to help fill that gap.
Pete Carroll likes young players’ effort
As noted, Carroll mentioned a number of other young players and those on defense he cited also included Tedric Thompson and Tre Flowers.
When Sunday’s practice began and the number one defense took the field, those two were again in the starting lineup with Flowers continuing to work at right cornerback with veterans such as Byron Maxwell and Neiko Thorpe remaining sidelined and Dontae Johnson only now beginning to get back in the lineup following offseason foot surgery (Johnson worked some at RCB Sunday).
Thompson, meanwhile, continues to work as the starting free safety alongside Bradley McDougald at strong safety, which for now without Earl Thomas (whose holdout shows no end in sight) and Maurice Alexander (still out with a hip issue) appears to be the team’s preferred safety alignment.
Carroll mentioned some subtle things that impressed about a few of the players, notably how Flowers generally maintained proper position and technique throughout. But a first preseason game is more about the basics and Carroll said the new players largely mastered those.
“Really wanted to see effort and toughness and running and hitting and we saw that all night long,’’ Carroll said.
Quinton Jefferson in the D-line rotation
Another player who could help fill the Bennett void is third-year lineman Quinton Jefferson. Jefferson had two tackles in 16 snaps against the Colts continuing what Carroll said has been a good camp and leading Carroll to say Sunday that Jefferson “would certainly be in the rotations right now if we were playing an in-season game.’’
Jefferson suffered an ankle injury against the Colts but it isn’t considered serious.
Punting decision made?
Carroll also lauded the punting of Dickson, a fifth-round pick seemed to only further confirm it will be really hard for Jon Ryan to hold on to the job he’s had since 2008, making him the only player on the roster left from the pre-Carroll era.
And it appeared a meaningful sight Sunday when Dickson held for all six field goals by Sebastian Janikowski, who hit all six, including a 51-yarder with ease.
Ryan has usually been the holder for Janikowski, including in Thursday’s game, with one thought that for now he was a better fit for the left-footed Janikowski than Dickson, who has not done much holding.
But Sunday, there Dickson was, working with Janikowski for a while off to the side before they then were the battery during the six team session kicks Janikowksi got (Jason Myers did not kick on Sunday as the team is generally alternating kickers).
Carroll downplayed that it meant anything saying it was just a chance to have the two work together and insisting that nothing has been decided on the punting situation.
“There’s no telling which way this is going to go right now,’’ Carroll said. “They have to show the consistency and the big kicks, too. Jonny’s got way more experience. He knows how to place the football, he’s great at backing people up.’’
But Dickson’s draft status, the $2 million in cap savings Seattle would get releasing Ryan and Dickson’s undeniable punting ability seem to make this one appearing every day to be pretty close to a done deal.
Jamarco Jones’ season might be done
Of the injuries suffered in Thursday’s game, the only one that appears serious is a sprained ankle to rookie offensive tackle Jamarco Jones.
“A bad ankle sprain, yeah,’’ Carroll said. “He didn’t break his leg but a really bad, serious ankle sprain. It’s a high ankle sprain plus. So he’s hobbling around pretty good right now.’’
That may mean the end of the season before it could begin for the fifth-round pick since roster mechanics may mean the team will have to put him on Injured Reserve — players who go on preseason IR cannot come off during the season (the ability to bring two players off IR is reserved for players put on IR during the regular season).
Seattle could carry Jones to the regular season and make a move then, but that would obviously mean potentially losing another player who would be healthy and could help.
In better news up front, Carroll said Isaiah Battle’s knee injury is not serious and he could be back soon, though he did not practice Sunday.
Still, the loss of Jones led to one new sight Sunday – Rees Odhiambo getting a few snaps at tackle. Odhiambo started seven games at left tackle last season so that’s hardly a new thing but he had been playing solely guard so far in this camp.
Offensive line solidifying?
The starting offensive line Sunday was the same as it has been throughout camp — left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi.
Of those four, the only one whose spot has seemed in much doubt is Ifedi’s, due mostly to continued issues with penalties.
And it seemed somewhat telling that Ifedi got an extra series in Thursday’s game, staying in for the second drive of the game while the starters all came out (though Pocic also stayed in for that series to get some work at center).
But Ifedi played a clean game and the way the offense moved on those two series — gaining 148 of the 195 yards Seattle had in the game — spoke to the way the starting linemen played.
“It just felt better (than a year ago),’’ Carroll said.
Carroll specifically cited the play of Fluker, who in the team’s eyes appears to be becoming the road grader up the middle the team hoped he could be.
Anything can happen, but for now it seems it would take an awful lot for those five not to be the starters when the season begins barring a few massive flag-filled meltdowns by Ifedi.
Tight end spot taking shape, even if Ed Dickson will be out a while
Carroll gave his most detailed account yet of Ed Dickson’s injury, calling it a quad strain.
He also said Dickson is nowhere near returning from off the Non-Football Injury list with no clear timetable on when he will be back.
Carroll maybe felt free to speak more frankly about that since he seems really happy with the way the tight end spot is evolving.
Nick Vannett had an obvious highlight with the third down catch and then the touchdown on the first drive.
But Carroll also raved about the play of Dissly, the fourth-round pick from Washington, who had two catches for 19 yards but more importantly has shown the team what it hoped he would blocking. Carroll cited his ability to pick up a backside block on a 14-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett on the first series as particularly impressive.
“He did exactly what we hoped it would look like for the first time out,’’ Carroll said.
Tyrone Swoopes has also had some nice moments in camp and the combination of those three playing well may mean the Seahawks won’t look to rush back Dickson, who can remain on NFI into the season without taking up a spot on the 53-man roster (the rules are basically the same as the Physically Unable to Perform list where the team could call him back after week six if he did enter the regular season on that list).
Nothing new on Earl Thomas
In case you wondered if anything is happening on the Earl Thomas front, the answer is no.
But just in case, we asked Carroll today if there had been any recent communication with Thomas.
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That was it, as this is obviously not a topic the team cares to spend much time on at the moment.
Thomas’ holdout is getting increasingly costly as the fines just for missing 12 days of practice could be $480,000. Along with fines for missing minicamp ($84,435) and 25 percent of his $1.9 million signing bonus (almost $500,000) and the fines are basically at the $1 million mark at this point.
More telling will be if Thomas is wiling to sit out games and cost himself $500,000 a week, a fine that is non-negotiable (the others are at team discretion though the team has sent strong signals it intends to enforce them).
Odds and ends
— Yep, there was a fight on Sunday, the first of training camp — and a far cry from what we’ve usually seen to this point. But this is a far different camp in a number of ways, to be sure. And Sunday’s fight was a blink-and-you-missed it affair as Green and offensive tackle Willie Beavers threw a couple quick punches at each other following a play late in the team session before it was quickly broken up. Both players were ejected, though, and Green required to run a lap.
— Carroll said RB C.J. Prosise and WR Amara Darboh should each be back by later in the week and it sounds as if each have a chance to play Saturday against the Chargers.
— Others who were out Sunday included: cornerbacks Byron Maxwell (hip/groin), Neiko Thorpe (wrist) and Trovon Reed (unspecified), defensive back Mike Tyson (ribs), safeties Maurice Alexander (hip flexor) linebackers D.J. Alexander and OL J.R. Sweezy (ankle), Isaiah Battle (knee) and Jamarco Jones (ankle).
— Carroll said WR David Moore was tested for a concussion but has passed the NFL’s concussion protocol and he was back at practice Sunday.
— DL Nazair Jones has been out of late but Carroll said the team expects him to play against the Chargers.