RENTON — The first open organized team activity (OTA) is often as noteworthy for who is not taking part as for who is.
For the Seahawks on Tuesday, the big news is that veteran middle linebacker Bobby Wagner isn’t taking part in on-field drills while he tries to get a new deal from the team that would make him the highest-paid player at his position.
But that was hardly all to be learned from what was the first OTA of the year open to the media.
Here are highlights of what else stood out:
McDougald, Carson added to injury list
Two starters were revealed to have had offseason knee surgeries that had not been previously disclosed: safety Bradley McDougald and running back Chris Carson.
McDougald battled knee issues all of last season, and it’s unclear the nature of Carson’s surgery.
But Carroll indicated Carson’s was not serious as he said he had “a little bit’’ of work done and could be back in “a couple of weeks.’’
McDougald won’t be back until training camp, Carroll said, adding that he is out of the area this week doing rehab.
With Carson out, Rashaad Penny got the bulk of the work with the starters and Carroll raved about the conditioning of last year’s first-round pick.
“He looks great,’’ Carroll said. “He looks great. He’s fast, he’s lean, he looks like the offseason that he put forth and then also what he’s done with our guys has been working right on point. He’s doing really well. He’s trimmed a little bit (listed at 220). Yeah. He’s stronger than he was, I think, so he’s transferred some weight. But he looks great right now, so we’re really happy with them.’’
Carroll: Ansah ‘has a chance’ to be ready for season’s start
Ziggy Ansah, signed a few weeks ago with the hope he can replace Frank Clark’s pass rushing, was visible but not on the field as he continues to rehab from shoulder surgery suffered last season when he was with Detroit.
Carroll said Ansah “has a chance’’ to be ready for the regular season but also that he has a long process to get through.
That might sound a little pessimistic but also shows the Seahawks don’t want to pin themselves down with an expectation for Ansah’s return until he gets further along with his recovery.
“He’s in the process,’’ Carroll said Ansah’s rehab. “He’s got a long process to get back. His attitude is great. He’s working every day, involved in all phases of everything that’s going on in the training room and with strength and conditioning. It’s just going to take a while and we’ll see. We won’t know until we get back after the break, until we get to camp really to see how far along we are able to get him.’’
As for signing Ansah, Carroll said the team thinks that if he’s healthy, he can be a major contributor.
“It’s a huge get for us,’’ Carroll said of Ansah, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $9 million. “Ziggy playing last year at the time when he got hurt, hurt his shoulder, he was as effective a rusher as there was in the league. … He’s got a chance to be a big factor for us. … Speed, size, strength, toughness, he’s got a great motor about the way he plays. We’re really fortunate to have him.’’
Safety unit banged up
Delano Hill continues to recover from a hip injury that ended his season last year the week before the playoff loss to Dallas.
Carroll said “everything is going good’’ but, like McDougald, Hill also won’t be back until training camp.
McDougald and Hill could well end up as Seattle’s starting safety tandem in 2019.
Shalom Luani, a former WSU star who was acquired last year for a seventh-round pick before the season and played primarily on special teams, was also out Tuesday.
Without them, Tedric Thompson (free safety) and veteran free agent Marwin Evans (strong) were the starting safeties. Evans played in all 32 games with Green Bay in 2016 and 2017, mostly on special teams, and Seattle signed him last year after Hill’s injury.
Seattle also drafted Marquise Blair in the second round to play strong safety. But Evans’ experience likely has him ahead of Blair on the depth chart for now.
Geno Smith makes for strong backup QB group, Carroll says
Geno Smith, signed last week to compete with Paxton Lynch for the backup QB spot behind Russell Wilson, was out of town dealing with a personal issue, Carroll said.
But Carroll said he’s excited to add Smith to the QB room and see what happens.
“Just want the competition,’’ Carroll said. “Geno was available, and we thought it would be worth the shoe. He made a great impression starting out, so let the games begin and let these guys battle it out and see how it goes. … I’m really thinking that is as strong as we have been in terms of the competitiveness of the backup spot. So, I’m looking forward to it.’’
Shaquem Griffin likes life on the edge
A year ago at this time, Shaquem Griffin was one of the Seahawks’ spotlight players at OTAs after his emotional draft.
Entering Year 2, he’s now a young player continuing to try to forge an NFL career.
And for now, that means adding some elements to his game. Griffin played last year primarily at weakside linebacker, a new position after he played mostly outside in college.
Now, he’s back to the edge as the Seahawks hope to best use his pass-rushing skills.
Griffin may also have to show he can add value there to make the 53-man roster with Seattle drafting linebackers Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven (who was present Tuesday but did not take part in on-field drills). Griffin came off the edge often in Tuesday’s OTA and lined up at strongside linebacker.
“He looked comfortable when we were playing him on the edge,’’ Carroll said. “We’ve already had him outside some where he’s had a chance to blitz a little bit more, so he’s getting started. It’s just a couple of days but it looks very comfortable for him to demonstrate that flexibility, which is a real asset for him.’’
Seahawks ‘hopeful’ Kendricks will be available
Not only did Wagner sit out, but fellow veteran linebacker K.J. Wright did his work off to the side, likely playing it safe after battling knee issues throughout last season.
That meant the starting inside linebackers were typically Austin Calitro in the middle and Mychal Kendricks at the weakside. Barton is also playing in the middle.
Kendricks appears to have recovered from the knee surgery that ended his season in December but questions remain if he will be available to play because he is due to be sentenced after pleading guilty last year to an insider trading charge in Philadelphia.
No new date for the sentencing has yet to be revealed, and for now, Kendricks is preparing as if he will play (among possible options are that sentencing continues to get delayed, he gets a suspended sentence, or a sentence that would begin after the season).
Said Carroll: “Well, I can’t tell you how that is going to go, but we are very hopeful that it is going to turn out well for Mike, and we will just have to wait and see how that goes. But we are hopeful.’’
First-round pick Collier signs
The Seahawks also took care of business Tuesday, officially signing first-round pick L.J. Collier. All draft picks get standard four-year deals with values based on where they are picked.
For Collier, that means a contract worth up to $10.836 million with $9.849 million guaranteed, according to OvertheCap.com.
First-round contracts also come with a team option for a fifth season.
Seattle now has nine of its 11 picks under contract, with the only two outstanding being DK Metcalf and Barton.
Odds and ends
Here are a few other quick notes:
- One receiver who caught Carroll’s eye was 2017 third-round pick Amara Darboh, who was on IR all of last season. “Darboh looks great. He’s back in the fold now, so he goes right back into the competition of it,” Carroll said.
- DK Metcalf, the standout of rookie minicamp, wasn’t quite as noticeable Tuesday with the veterans back — the starting WRs were typically Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and David Moore. But Carroll said he continues to be impressed with how well Metcalf has learned the playbook. Metcalf also took part in an early practice punt return session. But Carroll smiled said he didn’t know if that was Metcalf’s strength, indicating not to expect Metcalf to really be a factor there.
- DL Nazair Jones is also dealing with a knee issue and did not work Tuesday.
- Cornerback Tre Flowers was absent Tuesday due to a death in the family, Carroll said. That had the starting CBs as Shaquill Griffin and Neiko Thorpe with Akeem King as the nickel.
- After rookie minicamp, Carroll said undrafted free agent receiver Jazz Ferguson weighed in at 240 pounds compared to his college playing weight of 227 pounds, and that 240 was “bigger than he needs to be.” Asked Tuesday if Ferguson has lost some weight since then, Carroll smiled and said, “He has. He has.”
- Rookie WR Gary Jennings, a fourth-round pick, remains out with a hamstring issue, but seventh-rounder John Ursua, who also was sidelined in rookie minicamp with a hamstring issue, is back and taking part fully.
- Another rookie Tuesday who was not on the field was undrafted rookie free agent running back Adam Choice. It’s unclear what his situation was.
- Former Seahawk first-round pick Aaron Curry is helping out with some coaching for a few weeks and was on the field assisting linebacker drills.