RENTON — Turns out, Jarran Reed just had a little bit of a sore knee Friday when he left practice early, which momentarily threw a scare into the Seahawks.
A subsequent MRI showed no damage, and Reed returned to take part in Seattle’s practice Monday.
Fellow tackle Poona Ford is also being “taken care of,” in the words of coach Pete Carroll, dealing with an apparent calf issue. But he too could likely play if the Seahawks had a game this week.
Reed and Ford leaving practice early Friday led to renewed speculation whether the Seahawks would add a veteran to beef up the line, possibly the team’s biggest positional question mark entering training camp. The Seahawks had just 28 sacks last season, fewer than all but one other NFL team.
With nothing seriously wrong with Reed and Ford, Carroll indicated during a Zoom session with reporters that, for now, he’s just fine with the depth at defensive tackle, even if Reed and Ford are the only two at that spot with significant experience.
That leaves rookie Darrell Taylor as the biggest injury question on the line. The second-round pick out of Tennessee remains on the non-football injury list (NFI) while recovering from having a rod placed in his leg to repair a shin injury he played with last season.
Carroll said he hopes Taylor will return in time to have at least two weeks of practice before the regular-season opener Sept. 13 at Atlanta. If not, one option is that he could remain on the NFI list and not count against the 53-man roster when the season begins, but would have to miss the first six games.
“Two weeks at least to get work in would be what we want,’’ Carroll said. “If we get less we’ll go with what we know, and we’ve got to make sure he’s ready. We would not rush him back just to get him on the field; I won’t do that but we’ll see what happens.”
Taylor’s status and the rest of the defensive line’s performance in the 14 full-contact practices allowed over the next three weeks will go a long way toward determining Seattle’s interest in pursuing remaining veteran free agents (yes, Jadeveon Clowney remains unsigned).
Aside from Reed and Ford, second-year veteran Bryan Mone is the only other listed tackle with any NFL game experience, which is why the Seahawks may need to add a veteran.
But Carroll, who seemed in a particularly enthusiastic mood Monday as camp moved into a higher gear, said he’s “really excited” about Mone. Carroll said Mone is down to about 340 pounds after his previous weight of 350-plus pounds. The coach said he recently went back and “did a special study’’ of Mone’s 105 snaps last season.
“He played really well in the plays he played last year,’’ Carroll said.
Carroll reiterated that L.J. Collier and Rasheem Green will be able to move into tackle spots on passing downs, meaning, essentially, this tackle rotation: Reed, Ford and Mone on running downs; and Collier and Green moving inside on passing downs, flanked by edge rushers such as Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa.
Collier played just 152 snaps last season after the Seahawks drafted him in the first round and he suffered a high-ankle sprain early in camp. He ultimately made just three tackles (and the Seahawks are certainly hoping Collier’s fate a year ago isn’t foreshadowing Taylor’s this year).
Carroll said Collier has been one of the highlights of the first few days of camp.
“To see him now it looks like a different guy,’’ Carroll said. “He’s quicker, he’s explosive. He’s in great shape, and he’s battling, and so he just wasn’t ready last time around, getting into camp, getting hurt, we never did get a chance to find out, but he’s off to a terrific start.’’
Collier’s improvement looms pivotal to Seattle’s defensive line taking a step forward this season. The Seahawks hope he makes the same kind of second-year leap as Green did in 2019 when he led the team in sacks (four) and then recorded another sack in the playoff win at Philadelphia.
Collier and Green play the same role Clowney did last season — the strongside defensive end spot — and, for now, the Seahawks seem willing to ride with those two (as well as recently re-signed Branden Jackson) and see what happens (that might also explain why they didn’t try to match the offer Dallas gave Everson Griffen).
Taylor’s delayed arrival leaves somewhat of a potential void at the rush end spot.
But Seattle has three other players there — Irvin, Mayowa and rookie Alton Robinson — and Carroll could hardly have sounded more enthused about what he’s seen out of each so far.
Carroll said Mayowa, who was with Seattle in 2013, is “a much more accomplished football player’’ than he was then, and that being used strictly as a pass rusher of late instead of also playing some linebacker “has helped him.’’
Irvin, Carroll said, “has grown so much’’ since his first tenure with Seattle from 2012 to 2015 and is now ready to be the leader of the rush end group.
“He’s perfect for this,’’ Carroll said.
And Robinson, a fifth-round pick out of Syracuse, “has had a couple good days.’’
“There’s a real good juice about those guys,’’ Carroll said of the pass rush group.
Maybe it was just the optimism of an August when everyone is searching for something to feel good about, but maybe Carroll also really thinks the Seahawks have what they need up front. The next two to three weeks will tell a lot.