Will the Seahawks let Russ cook this season?
It’s a question that has dominated Seahawks social media chatter this offseason, the hope among some fans, anyway, that Seattle will let Russell Wilson throw more, and especially earlier in games.
And it’s a question that coach Pete Carroll fielded again following Saturday’s mock game, which lasted just four series before being called off when defensive end Branden Jackson was carted off the field after being knocked unconscious.
“We’re just going to hammer the rock,” Carroll said facetiously. “That’s all we are doing around here. We are hammering the rock.”
You probably wouldn’t expect Carroll to say much else, of course, especially during a training camp in which the team is attempting to keep things more under wraps than ever since there are no exhibition games for opponents to scout.
The reality is also that Carroll is unlikely to ever veer drastically from the style that got him this far as he nears his 69th birthday next month.
But Carroll said Saturday that Wilson is ready for whatever the Seahawks might, uh, throw at him this season.
“Russ is the best he’s ever been,” Carroll said. “He’s as far along as he’s ever been … Russ is going to do everything he can and we are going to give him every opportunity to kick butt in every opportunity he gets. You’re going to have to wait and see what that all means.”
Wilson certainly looked at the top of his game on third downs in Saturday’s brief action.
During the only full series he played, Wilson led the number one offense on an 18-play touchdown drive in which he converted four third downs passing — two to tight end Greg Olsen and one each to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, the latter a touchdown pass.
Wilson was in the midst of his second series when Jackson was injured and the game called off.
“That was great,” Wilson said Seattle’s third-down efficiency Saturday. “To be a championship football team, you’ve got to be great on third down.”
Here are more notes:
Offensive lineman Fuller suspended two games by NFL
Right as the Seahawks were beginning their “mock game” at CenturyLink Field Saturday afternoon, the team announced that backup offensive lineman Kyle Fuller was suspended two games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
Fuller will be allowed to take part in training camp, then will have to sit out the first two weeks. He can return Sept. 21, following the Seahawks’ home opener against New England.
Fuller is a four-year vet out of Baylor who spent most of last year on the practice squad but was activated to the 53-man roster for the playoffs, though he did not see action.
Fuller has been primarily playing center in camp, working behind Ethan Pocic, who has emerged as the starter at that spot in recent days. Free agent signee B.J. Finney also is in the mix at center.
Fuller has played in 11 games in his NFL career, with Houston in 2017 and Washington in 2018.
Chris Carson, Poona Ford should be back next week; Irvin sits out with hip flexor
Running back Chris Carson was not present for Saturday’s mock game, the third straight day he has missed as he attends to personal business in the Atlanta area.
Carson had a recent death in the family and missed time earlier in training camp, as well, but had returned for padded practices earlier this week.
Carroll said Carson returned home this week for a funeral and should be back next week.
Defensive tackle Poona Ford has been sidelined all week with a calf issue but Carroll said he will be back Monday.
Defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin also sat out Saturday with what Carroll said is “a real slight hip flexor thing we are just making sure doesn’t get worse. Bruce has had a fantastic start to this camp. He’s really off and flying and I have no problem making sure we err on the side of caution there.”
Other than Jackson, Carroll said there did not appear to be any new injuries suffered in the mock game.
Center battle still brewing
The Seahawks have implemented new rules for media reporting on practices, prohibiting detailing how the depth chart appeared during the mock game.
However, during the early portion of practice, Pocic snapped to Wilson while Fuller snapped to Smith and Finney to Anthony Gordon and Danny Etling.
That seemed to be a tipoff that Pocic is running ahead of the other two in the battle at center.
Carroll said after the game, though, that nothing has been decided.
“It’s a battle and they are competing like crazy,” Carroll said. “It’s good competition and we’ll call it before too long. There’s no deadline to set that yet.”
Finney, who played for the Steelers the last four years, signed a two-year deal worth up to $8 million with $4.5 million guaranteed, a deal that seemed to indicate the center spot was his for the taking.
But Pocic has emerged as one of the surprises of camp in what his fourth season with the Seahawks after being taken in the second round of the 2017 draft out of LSU.
As Carroll noted earlier this week, Pocic has never before played solely center with the Seahawks, which was his primary position at LSU.
Finney also has ample experience at guard and could be used there, as well, though Seattle has two pretty clear favorites for the starting guard spots in Mike Iupati and rookie Damien Lewis.
Fuller’s suspension obviously muddies the situation and assures that Pocic and Finney will be the two centers to start the season — the Seahawks don’t list anyone else at that position — but with Carroll insisting the order has yet to be established.