How many Seahawks players are currently taking part in Organized Team Activities? What is Russell Wilson doing right now? And could the Seahawks still re-sign K.J. Wright? Coach Pete Carroll answered those questions and more when he met the media via Zoom on Thursday.
Here’s a look at the top five takeaways from Carroll’s comments.
Seahawks have ‘just under 40 guys’ on field
Carroll talked after what was the third of the team’s 10 scheduled OTAs — voluntary on-field workouts in which teams can go 11-on-11 but without pads and no contact.
The Seahawks, though, are among 21 teams that released statements last month through the NFL Players Association saying they would not take part in voluntary on-field drills due to concerns over COVID-19. And while many teams have had fairly full attendance anyway, Seattle is among a handful of teams (Tampa Bay is another) whose veterans are largely holding firm. A few teams such as the Saints, have also modified their offseason programs in part due to concerns expressed by players. The Saints are reportedly doing no on-field work, sticking to meetings and conditioning.
Carroll said Seattle had “just under 40 guys, 35 guys, something like that’’ currently working on the field. Seattle has 91 on its roster.
That number includes the 31 players who took part in the rookie minicamp earlier this month and a few other young players, including second-year running back DeeJay Dallas.
Carroll, who said he has been in constant communication with team leaders such as Wilson and Bobby Wagner, said he has no issue with Seattle’s vets staying away, even if the other three NFC West teams have pretty regular attendance, saying, “I support these guys. I support the decision that they’ve made.’’
Carroll noted again that all players are taking part in virtual meetings to go over the playbook. He said having conducted those meetings virtually last year has him confident that the team will get the learning it needs this year.
Carroll also noted said players have to make presentations each week showing they have mastered that week’s portion of the installation of the playbook.
“It really accentuates the communication part of it,’’ Carroll said. “You’d be surprised how live it feels to guys when they’re going through their sequences and they’re going through all of the situations that we put them in.’’
Carroll also said the number of players on hand will increase as the offseason program continues. Seattle has seven more OTAs scheduled over the next two weeks and then will conclude the offseason program with a three-day minicamp June 15-17.
“Our activities will pick up as we get closer to minicamp,’’ Carroll said. “We expect pretty darn good attendance at minicamp. (There will be) a couple of guys who have some special situations (who won’t attend). But for the most part we expect guys to be there.’’
Russell Wilson in San Diego
With Wilson and backup Geno Smith among the veterans currently not taking part in OTAs, Carroll said Danny Etling and Alex McGough are handling the quarterback duties.
“Those two guys are competing like crazy,’’ Carroll said of Etling, who was on the practice squad all last year, and McGough, a 2018 seventh-round pick who returned to the team on the practice squad last December.
But Carroll indicated he has no worries about Wilson and Smith getting in the work they need.
Wilson, Carroll said, is at his offseason base of San Diego (he was seen at a Mariners-Padres game there last weekend) and “has had a number of guys come visit and work out down there.’’ Of Wilson and Smith, Carroll said “those guys are working out with our players when they get their chance to do so.’’
Ahkello Witherspoon in town rehabbing knee
Another veteran in town is cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Seattle in March with the hope he can take over one of the starting spots with last year’s primary starters, Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar, leaving in free agency.
Witherspoon, who spent the last four years with the 49ers, said he has not been on the field but has been in Seattle the last two months rehabbing after a “very minor procedure’’ on his knee.
Witherspoon said it’s been helpful to be around coaches every day as he begins acclimating to a new team.
“Just to be around and have my face be seen every day, talk football with (coaches),’’ he said. “I’m glad I made that decision because I’m already reaping the benefits.’’
Carroll hoping players are vaccinated by training camp
The Seahawks are scheduled to start training camp on July 31 and Carroll said “ideally we’d like everybody to be vaccinated before we report to camp just to make it as safe as possible for everyone.’’
Carroll said he did not have numbers on how many players have been vaccinated.
According to NFL.com, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that 30 of 32 teams have more than 90% of their Tier 1 and 2 personnel — coaches and staff — vaccinated with the other two at 85%.
The league’s updated protocols also include that players who are vaccinated will not have to go into quarantine if they have contact with someone who has COVID-19, which the league hopes will serve as a further inducement.
Door still open for K.J. Wright to return
Linebacker K.J. Wright, a Seahawk for the past 10 years, remains unsigned with some thought the team is content to move forward with younger players at linebacker — notably, 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks as the starter on the weakside and 2020 second-rounder Darrell Taylor on the strongside. Those are the two spots Wright played a year ago.
Carroll, though, said “the door is still open’’ for a return by Wright, who last year was the only player left on the roster who predated the arrival of Wilson and Wagner in 2012.
However, Carroll also said it’s not something that would happen anytime soon and likely not until training camp after the Seahawks get a better sense of how their current players are fitting in.
“Until we get on the field and can see how things are starting to come together there won’t be major changes in what’s going on because we’re pretty committed at this point,’’ Carroll said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not tuned into all of the options and the opportunities that are out there because we are. But K.J. is OK at this point. He’s doing fine. And if we get a chance to call on him we’ll go after it and see if we can put something together.’’
The clear implication from Carroll’s comment is that the Seahawks are not currently negotiating with Wright, but that could change down the road if the team does not see what it wants out of its younger players. Wright, who turns 32 in July, could also get other offers by then that would make it a moot point. Dallas was reportedly talking to Wright early in free agency but has since been reported as moving on.