RENTON — Wednesday’s Seahawks organized team activity (OTA) practice, the second one of the spring open to the media, didn’t really look a whole lot different than the first one the media got to see last week.
Actually, take that back. One thing that didn’t happen last time — and may never happen again in the annals of Seahawks football — occurred Wednesday as actor Rainn Wilson handled the hold on one field-goal attempt by Jason Myers, a 38-yarder that was good, much to the delight of the longtime “The Office” star, who raised his arms in triumph and then happily slapped hands with many of the rest of his “teammates.”
The Seattle native and lifelong Seahawks fan attended all of the workout and seemed to have a particular affinity for the specialists, hanging around the kicking battery throughout. And while he did a fine job, it doesn’t appear as if regular holder, punter Michael Dickson, probably has anything to really worry about.
And one notable player who was present before was absent Wednesday: projected starting left guard Mike Iupati. Because coach Pete Carroll didn’t talk to media afterward there was no word on Iupati’s absence, but veterans often are gone for any manner of reasons for what are voluntary workouts.
Iupati was one of eight players who, as of today, would likely be starters who did not take part in the team portion of drills Wednesday, though all of the rest were present.
Other potential starters who are limited in their work are linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, safeties Bradley McDougald and Delano Hill, defensive end Ziggy Ansah, defensive tackle Jarran Reed and running back Chris Carson. Wagner is present but not taking part while his contract works itself out. Wright is being purposely limited to rest his knee after last season, when he missed 11 games due to issues that began with an injury in the preseason that required surgery, while the others are all coming off offseason surgeries.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, also a potential starter, appeared to be on the Wright plan of doing some limited work but not taking part in team drills.
Other players who were out included receivers Caleb Scott, Gary Jennings and Malik Turner, offensive linemen Jordan Roos and Demetrius Knox, linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, defensive lineman Nazair Jones and tight end Will Dissly. Defensive tackle Al Woods also appeared limited during team drills (meaning, I didn’t really see him do any but he was there).
Two players who were absent last week for personal reasons but were back Wednesday were quarterback Geno Smith and cornerback Tre Flowers.
Here is more of what stood out.
Phil Haynes gets a big chance
Iupati’s absence meant rookie fourth-round pick Phil Haynes of Wake Forest worked at left guard with the starting offense. The Seahawks may well have just been giving Haynes a shot to see how he handles it (for the record, Jordan Simmons worked behind Haynes while Ethan Pocic worked as the second-team right guard behind D.J. Fluker).
But left tackle Duane Brown talked to the media later and said Haynes has earned the opportunity he is being given.
“Being in the offensive-line room, I think Phil Haynes has been a pleasant surprise,’’ Brown said. “He’s a big, strong guy. He’s catching on pretty quickly. He’s got a great demeanor. A lot of times, this kind of atmosphere can be overwhelming, being given so much information, the speed right now, you’re not used to practicing without pads on so fast and everything’s happening so quickly, but he’s handling everything well. Today he was in there with the ones and played next to me and communicated great.’’
There’s a long way to go, of course. But Haynes could well emerge as a backup at the guard spots for this season with an eye toward taking over for one of the vets in 2020, which could also have some ramifications on players such as Pocic and Simmons, each starters for a time last season.
Shaquem Griffin still working on inside moves
Much has been made of Seattle’s plan this season to use second-year linebacker Shaquem Griffin more on the edge for his pass-rush skills, something we again saw Wednesday.
But Griffin — the feel-good story of the 2018 NFL draft — also still figures to have to show he can play weakside linebacker well enough to keep a spot on the roster. He spent much of Wednesday working with the starting defense at that spot with Wright and Kendricks sitting out, as did Burr-Kirven. Austin Calitro and Cody Barton typically manned the middle.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. gave a vague answer about Griffin afterward, noting largely that it’s May and a lot remains to be sorted out.
But he acknowledged that the more Griffin can do the better his chances of making the roster at one of the team’s most competitive positions after K.J. Wright’s re-signing and Barton and Burr-Kirven’s drafting.
“At this point, it’s about being available, and giving us a chance to move you around and play hard,’’ Norton said of Griffin. “The guy has real good speed as you know. He really understands the game. And that much speed and that much ability, you’d like to find a place to play him because he’s a weapon.”
The safety shuffle
With McDougald and Hill out until training camp, Seattle will have to wait a while to get its safety position sorted out. McDougald is sure to start at either free or strong, though, with the best of the rest of the group earning the other spot.
With those players out, the usual starters Wednesday were Tedric Thompson at free safety and Shalom Luani at strong safety, with Marquise Blair also getting some shots at strong safety.
With Flowers back, the corner spots were as had been expected — Flowers at right corner, Shaquill Griffin at left corner and Akeem King as the nickel. Rookie Ugo Amadi also got some work at nickel.
Shaquill Griffin had one of the day’s highlight plays, running step for step with rookie receiver DK Metcalf deep down the field to bat away a long pass.
That came just a few plays after Metcalf caught a fade pass for a TD over Griffin during a red-zone drill. However, Metcalf also had a drop on a crossing route from Paxton Lynch.
Darboh continues to shine
Third-year vet Amara Darboh, who earned plaudits last week from coach Pete Carroll, continues to stand out.
Darboh had one leaping grab over the middle, a dive to slide and make another and had another catch on a deep route.
The typical starting WR trio remains Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and David Moore with Metcalf, Darboh and Keenan Reynolds typically serving as the second unit.
Tight end Jacob Hollister, acquired in a trade with New England after the draft, also stood out.
Hollister’s speed and hands have been evident in the OTAs open to the media, though what will be the real key will be how he handles the physical aspects of the position when pads go on in training camp.
Wagner’s whistle gets a ‘no’ from Wright
Good friends and longtime teammates Wagner and Wright may not disagree about much.
But whether Wagner can use a whistle as a coach in practice? Wright put a nix to that.
Wagner had a whistle for part of Wednesday’s practice in his current role as observer and mentor, though Wright said he actually didn’t notice.
“Bobby got a whistle?’’ Wright repeated. “I did not see that. But when I do see that I’m going to snatch it out of his hand and tell him to get that out of here.’’
And a few more …
• Geno Smith appeared to usually go second in the QB rotations but there’s a long ways to go to determine anything there.
• George Fant got some work at left tackle but also continues to get a lot of work in his hybrid eligible tackle/tight end role. The usual backup tackles were Jamarco Jones on the right and Elijah Nkansah on the left.
• Joey Hunt is working primarily as the backup center with Pocic, Simmons and Marcus Martin as the backup guards.
• Seattle made one roster move Wednesday, waiving as injured running back Adam Choice and signing running back Marcelias Sutton to take his place. Sutton played at Oklahoma and was a tryout player during Seattle’s rookie minicamp.
• With Ansah, Reed and Jones out and Woods limited, the typical starting DL was Rasheem Green and Cassius Marsh at end and Poona Ford and Demarcus Christmas at tackles. Jamie Meder also worked in at tackle, and L.J. Collier is also getting lots of work at end.
• The Seahawks will have five more OTAs. Two more are open to the media, next Tuesday and Thursday.