Earl Thomas remained away from practice as the Seahawks held their final of three minicamp workouts this week.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll got one last look at his team on Thursday before the players headed off into summer vacation.
“We had a very, very good offseason,’’ Carroll said following the last of the team’s three minicamp practices this week.
That’s an assessment that flies in the face of those who question the direction of the team after the Seahawks shed a number of high-profile veterans and remade their coaching staff. It’s also something that can’t truly be judged until the fall when games are played.
But there were some things we learned on the team’s last day on the field until training camp begins in late July.
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- Analysis: What we learned from Seahawks minicamp
Here are, well, a six-pack of notes and observations from Thursday’s minicamp wrapup.
1. There’s nothing new on Earl Thomas
Maybe some thought Thomas’ minicamp holdout might lead to an immediate resolution. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Carroll said Thursday he hasn’t talked to Thomas this week. And while he said “our guys are working. We are at work. They are busy’’ when asked if the team plans to have any communication with Thomas soon, there was no indication that any movement toward a contract is imminent.
The Seahawks continued to rotate their safety combos throughout on Thursday, with the one constant being that Bradley McDougald was always with the ones, either at free safety pairing with Delano Hill at strong safety, or at strong safety pairing with Tedric Thompson at free safety.
For missing all of minicamp, Thomas can be fined up to $84,435.
2. Except for a few long-term cases, the Seahawks appear pretty healthy
Carroll also said there is nothing new on the status of Kam Chancellor and Malik McDowell, whose Seahawks’ careers may each be done.
Otherwise, Carroll pronounced the Seahawks as pretty healthy, saying that every other other player on the roster could be ready to take part on at least a limited basis when training camp begins.
“It looks like everybody should have a chance to be healthy,’’ he said. “We are counting on that.’’
Maybe most notable is that the Seahawks expect offensive tackle George Fant to return when camp begins as well as defensive end Dion Jordan.
The Seahawks will also get their first real look at receiver Brandon Marshall when camp begins. Marshall has not taken part in any team drills since signing with the Seahawks on May 29 with Carroll clarifying on Thursday that he has been resting a hamstring issue. But Carroll said that should be cleared up when camp begins.
“We’re just making sure that we don’t have a setback on a hamstring that’s recovering,” Carroll said. “We talked about it today – he’s got a solid six weeks, he’ll be well. We need to do a really good job as we re-introduce him back into our tempo and speed and all that, that we don’t overdo it early in the excitement to see what he can do and all.”
3. The kicking competition is ON
Both Sebastian Janikowski and Jason Myers took turns with the field goal team Thursday — Janikowski working with the starting unit and Myers with the backups.
Carroll said the battle between the two to replace Blair Walsh figures to continue well into training camp, with the team potentially rotating each by halves during preseason games.
“It’s going to be real competitive,’’ Carroll said.
Carroll said the same of the punting competition between veteran Jon Ryan and fifth-round pick Michael Dickson. That Dickson was drafted and waiving Ryan could save $2 million against the cap appears to give Dickson a significant edge. But Carroll insisted Ryan will be given every chance to keep the job he has held since 2008.
One underrated factor is that the punter is expected to also hold for place kicks. Ryan held for Janikowski throughout minicamp while Dickson held for Myers with the second field goal unit.
“It is a concern,’’ Carroll said. “And Michael has not done a lot of it. He’s a very good athlete, got good hands and all that. But that’s just part of this job and Jon is great at it so he has a real leg up on him in that regard.’’
4. Shaquem Griffin is getting comfortable at weakside linebacker
Carroll, as might be expected, sung the praises of the team’s entire 2018 draft class saying so far the team has seen what it hoped to out of all of them.
But he made an interesting observation about Griffin, whose selection in the fifth round was widely celebrated due to his inspirational story and reuniting with twin Shaquill.
Shaquem Griffin is being moved to weakside linebacker and Carroll said there was a bit of a learning curve early.
“What was really positive was how he finished up this offseason,’’ Carroll said. “ Moving back inside for him was new and he had a lot to learn, a lot to pick up and I think just in the process of it and a guy that wants to do really right and do things just as the coaches are coaching him up, we didn’t see him really cutting loose really until this camp, really felt comfortable and started flying around and you could see how fast he is and the acceleration he has that’s really unique. It just jumped off the film.’’
5. Rashaad Penny appears to be picking up pass blocking
Chris Carson was maybe the standout player of the Seahawks’ offseason, showing he is fully recovered from the ankle injury that ended last season and looking even more assured and confident in his second NFL season. If the season began today he would likely be Seattle’s starting tailback.
But the Seahawks also appear happy with the progress of Penny, their number one pick out of San Diego State. Penny could rotate with Carson and the two could also find themselves each on the field at the same time. Penny could also be used in third-down and two-minute roles.
One thing that will help get him on the field more is if he can show he can pass block, something the team cited as his biggest area for improvement when he was drafted.
All assessments of blocking this time of year come with the caveat that there are no pads and no contact in the spring. But in terms of understanding the concepts and improving fundamentals, Carroll said Penny has made significant progress.
“That was something that was new for him and a demanding part of the game,’’ Carroll said. “We don’t have any hesitation that he is going to be fine in that area.’’
6. The backup QB competition is also ON
Seventh-round pick Alex McGough got most of the backup quarterback reps on Thursday as the team wanted to give him a lot of work. McGough turned in maybe the play of the day when he hooked up with Marcus Johnson on about a 50-yard pass during a two-minute drill capping a camp in which Carroll said he showed enough to go into the summer as legitimate competition with veteran Austin Davis to back up Russell Wilson.
“Well Alex has come a long way,’’ Carroll said. “I don’t know if you noticed from the reps, but we threw him in and gave him a lot of turns to see where he could take it. He’s got a good arm, he runs well, he’s studying, he’s learning, it doesn’t seem too big for him at this level of competition. We’re not into the playing games yet, we’ll have to wait and see—we’re not even into camp yet—but he’s done a nice job with it so far and warranted giving him extra shots. We know a lot about Austin – Austin has done a beautiful job for us in the role that we’ve asked him to fill. We needed to see how far we could take Alex. He threw a lot of great balls, made a lot of great plays, made some bonehead plays too and you could see that he’s got stuff he’s got to figure out. But when he knows what’s going on and he’s got a good sense for what the plays are and where people are going, he’s been pretty assertive. He’s done a nice job.”