RENTON — Could the 2020 Seahawks have the fastest receiving corps of the Pete Carroll era? At the least, they have the fastest receiver since Carroll became coach in 2010 in free-agent addition Phillip Dorsett II.
Here’s more on that and a few more notes as the Seahawks took the field for their seventh practice of training camp Thursday.
Dorsett blazing a new trail in Seattle
No one has ever doubted Dorsett’s speed — he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2015 combine, which helped him get drafted in the first round by the Colts.
Through the first week of practice, the Seahawks say Dorsett hasn’t lost a step.
“He’s the fastest guy we’ve ever had here,” Carroll said Thursday. “He runs in time realms we don’t even think really exist, 4.2s and stuff.”
Dorsett’s challenge has always been to figure out a way to use that speed to his best advantage on the field.
His best season was his second in Indianapolis in 2016, when he had 33 receptions for 528 yards. Last year with New England, he had just 29 receptions for 397 yards and saw his playing time dip drastically at the end of the season.
But that was in a short-passing game system tailored to Tom Brady’s talents, and Brady’s arm strength has been questionable the last few years.
The Seahawks think Dorsett will be a better fit in their system predicated on play-action and taking deep shots with Russell Wilson, one reason why they pursued Dorsett in free agency. They were able to get the 27-year-old on a one-year deal worth $1.047 million.
“In our system with Russ and the way Russ likes to bomb the football, he’s a big factor for us,” Carroll said.
They plan to find out just how much more of a factor Dorsett can be over the next few days. Carroll said Seattle will install some packages this week “that really accentuate those plays. Really anxious to see how he fits in.”
The Seahawks hope Dorsett can emerge as a third-receiving complement to the established duo of Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, each of whom can move pretty swiftly down the field themselves (Metcalf ran a 4.33-second 40 at the 2019 combine and Lockett a 4.40 in 2015. And for those wondering, Percy Harvin, often considered as fast as any player Seattle has had in recent years, ran a 4.41).
“To have all of that speed on the field at the same time is pretty dynamic,” Carroll said.
Danny Etling will add to QB competition
Seattle now has four quarterbacks on its roster after adding Danny Etling off waivers earlier this week from Atlanta.
Seattle has a clear 1-2 in Wilson and backup Geno Smith, and will now let Etling battle with rookie Anthony Gordon of Washington State for the third quarterback spot, though that competition will take a few days to get underway as Etling has to go through the COVID-19 testing protocol before he can get on the field. That may not happen until after the weekend.
The unpredictability of COVID-19 means a third quarterback could be more pivotal than ever this season. Teams may be more apt to keep three QBs on their 53-man roster, and undoubtedly will keep at least one on the 16-man practice squad (and remember, new rules allow for teams to call up two PS players a week to the gameday roster without having to go through waivers).
Etling, who played college football at LSU, has been in the NFL since 2018 with the Patriots and Falcons. Carroll said the Seahawks have “thought a lot of Danny. Want to see what he looks like on our field and where he fits in.”
Carroll said picking up Etling wasn’t a reflection on Gordon, an undrafted rookie free agent who he said “has picked up everything really well. Smart as can be. Just looking for competition.”
But as Carroll noted, the unique offseason and truncated training camp means that, so far, Wilson and Smith have gotten almost all the work with Gordon getting only a handful of snaps in team drills.
In fact, he made the interesting point that, in the past, the Seahawks would give the No. 3 QB some significant work in practice for the sole purpose of getting him ready for preseason games, which is unnecessary this year with the preseason canceled.
So judging the battle for the third QB spot could be especially tricky, but might also be why the Seahawks wanted to add a QB who at least has appeared in some preseason games and been on NFL rosters consistently the last two years (or at least, on practice squads).
“You feel a little bit different the urgency not having the four games when you have to get your third quarterback ready to play in those preseason games,” Carroll said.
Carroll hopes Brooks can be full-go for scrimmage
First-round pick Jordyn Brooks did more in practice Thursday after missing Monday’s practice with a groin issue and then being held out of team drills on Tuesday.
Carroll said it turns out Brooks’ injury may have been more of a cramp than a tear, which allowed a return quicker than Carroll had indicated might happen earlier in the week.
Carroll said the team hopes Brooks will recover well enough from the work he got Thursday — which included regular work at weakside linebacker in team drills with the second unit — to allow him to get significant snaps when the team holds a mock game Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Tale of two rookie tight ends
Rookie tight end Colby Parkinson remains on the non-football injury list while recovering from a broken foot suffered while training in June.
But Carroll said the fourth-round pick out of Stanford is “ahead of schedule” and that he should be able “to make a return here before camp is over.”
That will only add to a group Seattle is already beyond excited about with the addition of veteran free agent Greg Olsen and the return to health of Will Dissly, as well as retaining free agents Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson.
Seattle probably won’t keep five tight ends, though, so something may have to give once cutdown day arrives Sept. 5. But the good news in the big picture is that Parkinson isn’t suffering setbacks on his road to recovery.
Carroll so far likes what he has seen out of seventh-round pick Stephen Sullivan out of LSU, which could potentially make roster decisions that much trickier. Sullivan is making a transition from being primarily a receiver at LSU.
“Steph has really done some good stuff,” Carroll said. “Really excited about his work. He shows the catching skills that the wide receiver background brings. So it is a project for us to teach him how to be on the line of scrimmage and what he can do there. … But he’s a really nice athlete. I really like the pick that we made because he looks like he fits.”
- As Carroll had said before practice would happen, Quinton Dunbar got his first snaps in team drills Thursday working at the right cornerback spot. Tre Flowers continues to get most of the work there but Dunbar is expected to begin ramping up to eventually get the lion’s share of the work there.
- Running back Chris Carson was not visible at practice. He returned earlier in the week after taking a few days off to deal with a personal matter that included a death in the family and got ample work on Monday and Tuesday and may have just been getting a day off. Carlos Hyde worked with the number one offense instead.
- Among players still out are defensive tackles Poona Ford and Demarcus Christmas. But one player who returned from injury is guard Phil Haynes, out for a few days earlier this week with an undisclosed injury. Receiver Freddie Swain, a sixth-round pick out of Florida, also remains sidelined with a groin injury.