RENTON — The Seahawks have found their replacement for injured Bruce Irvin in their starting defense: first-round draft choice Jordyn Brooks.
The only question — at least officially, anyway — is which position Brooks will play, with coach Pete Carroll acting coy Wednesday on how exactly the linebacking corps will now look with Brooks in the mix.
Irvin, who started at strongside linebacker the first two games, will miss the rest of the season due to an ACL injury suffered against the Patriots.
“This is an opportunity for Jordyn Brooks to start,” Carroll said when he met with media members via Zoom on Wednesday.
Brooks, though, played almost solely weakside linebacker in camp, the position most have thought is also his long-term future.
Putting Brooks at WLB would mean moving veteran K.J. Wright to the strongside, a spot he played his first two years in the league in 2011 and 2012.
Carroll sidestepped a question on whether that’s Seattle’s plan saying, “We’ll let you see what’s going on at game time.’’
That could be read as a good sign that’s what will happen — Carroll already has said several times moving Wright to SLB is an option this season.
Either way, Brooks — who played at Texas Tech and is a native of Houston — is going to make his first substantial impact as a Seahawk on Sunday against Dallas in getting his first start three games into his rookie year.
“We really feel like this is his time now,” said defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. “We are excited to see exactly what he is going to do with it.”
Brooks, the 27th overall selection, played 15 snaps off the bench in the first two games, including some work as a rusher after Irvin went down Sunday (and maybe the Seahawks would look for ways to incorporate packages where Brooks could rush and Wright revert to WLB).
He has one tackle, coming in the Atlanta game.
Despite Brooks’ status as a first-round pick, Carroll said Seattle intended to bring the rookie along slowly this year, in part because the team had veterans (and well-paid ones at that) to fill the starting linebacking roles.
But he said Brooks is ready for a starring role now.
“He can do everything that we’re asking our guys to do,’’ Carroll said. “He’s equipped to do it. He’s just inexperienced — that’s all he’s missing out on. He’s going be able to do everything, whether he’s coming off the edge, or he’s covering guys down the field, a pressure, he’s a good tackler, he’s a good hitter.
“ … He just needs to get out there. And when he gets out there, will there be some mistakes? Yeah, you know, like a young guy does, he’s going to miss some things at times, but we’ll make up for it around him as he’s developing.’’
Moving Brooks to a starting role helped answer how the Seahawks would fill their roster losses of Irvin and safety Marquise Blair.
Instead of adding a pass rusher, Seattle elevated defensive tackle Anthony Rush to the 53-player roster from the practice squad. Rush played 15 snaps Sunday after being promoted to the active roster Saturday. He then was returned to the practice squad Monday.
Carroll also noted waiver wire pickup D’Andre Walker is ready after getting initiated into the team the past two weeks. Walker has been playing the strongside linebacker spot in practice, as well, and could be active this week.
Seattle also promoted Linden Stephens off the practice squad to take the place of Blair.
The roster filled out fully when the NFL announced that an exemption had been lifted on offensive lineman Kyle Fuller, meaning he now counts on the 53-player roster after being suspended the first two games.
Michael Dickson wins NFC Player of Week honors
Yep, a Seahawk won an award as an NFC player of the week for his performance in the 35-30 victory Sunday over the Patriots.
But nope, it wasn’t Russell Wilson, who tied a career high and team record with five touchdown passes.
Instead, punter Michael Dickson received the award for special teams. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, who led an improbable comeback victory against Atlanta (and now comes to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Sunday) won the offensive award. Rams linebacker Micah Kaiser won the defensive award.
This is the second time Dickson has won the award. He also won it once during his rookie season in 2018.
Dickson averaged 50 yards a kick on four punts with all four downed inside the 20 against the Patriots.
He boomed a particularly critical 63-yarder early in the fourth quarter after Seattle was forced to punt from its own 23 holding a 28-23 lead. The kick, plus a penalty on the Patriots, forced New England to start at its own 7 and eventually punt after getting just one first down. Seattle then responded for a quick drive and another touchdown.
The award continues a bounce back for Dickson from a slump early in the 2019 season after being named to the Pro Bowl in his 2018 rookie year.
Dickson is averaging 48.9 yards per punt so far in 2020, sixth in the NFL, and has a net average (the punt minus the return) of 47.9, third best in the league.
“He has been almost perfect so far,” Carroll said. “He’s off to a great start, which is important. I know he wanted to get better this year, so he started well. Fifty-yard net punts in the game, no punt return yardage. That’s a big deal. He’s just been on it.”
Dickson’s four punts forced the Patriots to start at their own 9-, 2-, 7- and 19-yard lines.
Wilson won offensive player of the week in Week 1 after throwing four touchdown passes against the Falcons.
Dickson had a few off games early in the 2019 season, admitting later he might have been trying too hard to replicate his fabulous rookie year.
“I wanted everything to be perfect, so I was just pushing too hard,” he said last December.
But Dickson got things back to normal the second half of last season and ended up tying the team record for punts downed inside the 20 with 34.
He’s on pace to break that mark so far with six through two games, second in the NFL.
Rasheem Green yet to be cleared to practice
Carroll said before practice that defensive end Rasheem Green has yet to be cleared after suffering a stinger in the opener against Atlanta.
“We haven’t turned the corner yet,” Carroll said. “We’ll have to see as this week goes on if he improves enough where he’ll be able to play this week. He’s not feeling that bad. But he’s still got a little something going on that we got to wait through and see which day it turns, so we won’t know until later in the week. But he hasn’t been cleared yet for this week.”
Green shared time at end with L.J. Collier in the opener.
Seattle used Collier more against the Patriots and also got more work out of their defensive tackles, especially early on, defending against New England’s run.
But with Irvin gone, the loss of Green — who in the opener played 26 of his 30 snaps on passing downs — could be a little more troublesome. One player the team will lean on at both end spots this week is rookie Alton Robinson, who will almost certainly be active after being inactive the first two weeks.
Five sit out practice, including Mayowa and Reed
Seattle had its lengthiest injury report of the season Wednesday, including listing new injuries for two defensive starters — defensive end Benson Mayowa (groin) and tackle Jarran Reed (back).
Also out were Green, linebacker Cody Barton (quad) and offensive tackle Duane Brown (knee/foot).
Another four players were listed as limited due to injury — offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (pec), tight end Will Dissly (Achilles), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) and corner Neiko Thorpe (hip).
Four others were listed as limited due to rest — running back Chris Carson, receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and tight end Greg Olsen.