RENTON — The third mock game of training camp for the Seahawks on Sunday wasn’t quite as formal of an affair as the first two.
It was held at the VMAC in Renton instead of CenturyLink Field, and unlike the mock game Wednesday, players were not in full pads and there was no tackling to the ground. It also was structured mostly like a regular practice with some extended team sessions mixed in.
Two players, though, stood out throughout — running back Chris Carson and defensive back Marquise Blair.
Carson saw what was his most extensive action of training camp, having missed much of it while taking two different excused absences to attend to personal matters in his native Atlanta area. That meant Carson didn’t take part in either of the first two mock games.
But Sunday, Carson — who missed the final regular season game of 2019 and the two playoff contests with a fractured hip — got a lot of the work with the Seahawks holding out Carlos Hyde (who got substantial action Wednesday) as well as Travis Homer.
And in the eyes of Pete Carroll, Carson looked in midseason form.
“Chris has got fresh legs,” Carroll said of Carson, who has topped the 1,000-yard mark each of the past two years and is again projected to be Seattle’s No. 1 back despite the addition of Hyde. “… He looks great. He hasn’t had a snap out here that he didn’t look good. So we don’t have any hesitation with Chris at all. He’s ready to go.”
As for Blair, the second-year player out of Utah continued his string of impressive practices as he adapts to his new role as the team’s nickel back after playing safety last season.
Carroll said Blair had “three or four plays that stood out” and specifically mentioned one when Blair was stride-for-stride with DK Metcalf “50 yards down the field” and knocked the ball away.
“He continues to just be a spotlighted player out there,” Carroll said. “He’s all over the field, and he’s done it in all the big matchups, the big mock-game opportunities. … He’s really probably been the brightest surprise of camp. And what it is is that we didn’t know how he would cover, being that he has been more of a safety. But he’s got great quick feet and great feel for routes and he covers people as tight as anybody we have on our team.”
Seahawks place Branden Jackson on IR with spinal condition that could threaten career
The Seahawks made one roster move Sunday, signing end/linebacker Pita Taumoepenu — who is a strongside linebacker/rush end, ala the Bruce Irvin role — and placing veteran defensive end Branden Jackson on Injured Reserve to make room on the 80-man roster.
Jackson was knocked unconscious during a mock game at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 22 and following Sunday’s mock game Carroll revealed that Jackson has a condition related to his spine that could endanger his career.
Carroll didn’t go into specifics but said it involves his spine and is similar to the injuries that ended the careers of former Seahawks Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.
“He’s just got a condition that makes it possibly dangerous in a frame over the long haul so they want to look after him right now,” Carroll said of Jackson, 27, who has played in 36 games for the Seahawks over the past three years and was projected to fill a role this season as a rotational player on the defensive line, specifically at the strongside end spot.
Jackson was injured when he knocked helmets with offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. He was placed on a backboard and taken off the field via ambulance to a hospital.
“He really came out of that episode OK, but just in the testing, it did show that he had a physical kind of a trait that’s one to protect,” Carroll said. “So everybody has been convinced that the best thing for him to do is not to play this year. I don’t know if that’s forever, but I do know for right now. He’s not injured right now, but he’s susceptible. It’s similar to situations a couple of our other guys have had in the past, and we’re erring on the side of long-term health and taking care of our guys. We had a good meeting with him and talked our way through it and all of that.”
Carroll later confirmed he was referring to Chancellor — who was found to have spinal stenosis — and Avril. Each was injured in 2017 and did not return to play.
“It’s not the same thing as those guys, but it’s similar,” Carroll said. “Similar type of issues, so you know how those turned out.”
Taumoepenu arrived in town recently for a tryout/visit, and as all free agents had to pass through the COVID-19 protocols before he could sign.
Taumoepenu was on Seattle’s practice squad the last six weeks of last season and then re-signed after the season to a futures contract before being cut in May. A 2017 sixth-round choice of the 49ers out of Utah, he has played in six NFL games.
Darrell Taylor might need a few more weeks and more injury notes
Carroll also updated a number of other injury situations afterward. Here are the most notable:
— Ogbuehi hurt his shoulder during the mock game and Carroll said, “We don’t know what the extent of the injury is.” Ogbuehi has been backing up at both tackle spots and appears a lock to make the team if healthy.
— Defensive end Benson Mayowa sat out with Carroll saying only he’s “been banged up a little bit the past couple days.”
— Cornerback Tre Flowers sat out with what Carroll said was a slight sprained ankle. That allowed Quinton Dunbar to get all the work with the No. 1 defense at right cornerback, the spot he is expected to hold once the season begins.
— Carroll said receivers John Ursua (hamstring) and Cody Thompson (unknown) should be back soon (the Seahawks are off Monday but will practice again Tuesday). He said receiver Phillip Dorsett II should also come back soon after missing the past eight days — and all three mock games — with a sore foot. But he also said again somewhat ominously that Dorsett’s condition might linger. “We’re gonna have to figure that out,” Carroll said. “We know how he handles it, we know what his condition is with the situation with a sore foot, and we’ve just got to manage him really well.”
— The Seahawks officially announced the signing of receiver Paul Richardson on Sunday and he was in uniform wearing jersey No. 8. He did not take part in team drills as he will be eased in.
— Carroll said second-round draft choice Darrell Taylor “is still a few weeks away” from returning off the Non-Football Injury list, which might mean he’ll stay on the NFI list when the regular season begins. “It’s going to be hard for him to make the opener,” Carroll said. Taylor is on the NFI list while he continues to recover from surgery last January to insert a rod in his lower leg after playing his final college season a year ago at Tennessee with a stress fracture. Seattle drafted Taylor in the second round hoping he could be an immediate boost to the pass rush. If Taylor starts the season on the NFI list, then he will have to miss the first six games before he would be eligible to return.