In the pre-COVID-19 world, the Seahawks would be holding a light walk-through Wednesday at the VMAC in Renton, after which Pete Carroll would address the media, and then the team would get on a plane to Las Vegas to play the Raiders in a preseason game Thursday night, the first of the year.
Instead, in a year unlike any other, Wednesday marks the first time since the end of the 2019 season the Seahawks will take the field at the VMAC for what is officially considered a practice.
The Seahawks are set to practice at 1 p.m. for what is the first of a five-day “ramp-up’’ period in which practices will increase gradually in length and intensity, though still resembling offseason organized team activity (OTA) workouts.
Teams can put on full pads for the first time Aug. 17.
Still, even if it’s not quite the “real thing” just yet, the workouts will be the first real chance for Carroll and general manager John Schneider to see the 2020 Seahawks in full and begin assembling the 53-player roster that will (hopefully, anyway) take the field in Atlanta on Sept. 13.
Here are a few things we’ll be watching for:
The Seahawks put only one player on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list following physicals last week — running back Rashaad Penny, who is still recovering from a knee injury suffered last December against the Rams.
Rookie defensive end Darrell Taylor also was put on the Non-Football Injury list after having surgery in January to put a rod in his leg to repair a shin injury as was tight end Colby Parkinson. Taylor and Parkinson are on the active NFI list and could be activated at any time.
That indicates the team thinks everyone else can be ready for the start of the season, maybe the most notable being running back Chris Carson, who suffered a season-ending hip fracture last December.
That’s not really a surprise because the team has said all along the hope was he’d be ready for the season, though the assumption has been he won’t do much in camp.
Seattle doesn’t have a lot of running-back depth at the moment after waiving both undrafted rookie free-agent running backs it signed — Patrick Carr and Anthony Jones — leaving just five running backs on the roster. That would seem to indicate optimism for the health of players who remain, including newcomer Carlos Hyde, who had offseason shoulder surgery.
Still, seeing who is and isn’t practicing is always one of the key intrigues of the beginning of workouts.
The line on the line
In a normal year, the Seahawks would have had 10 OTAs and three minicamp practices in the spring to begin assembling an offensive line that features a lot of new parts.
Now, piecing together the line will have to occur in a camp without preseason games — but with 14 full-padded practices, including two scrimmages at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 22 and Aug. 26, as well as a later mock game at the VMAC.
Conventional wisdom says the No. 1 offensive line will likely look like this to start: left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Mike Iupati, center B.J. Finney, right guard Damien Lewis and right tackle Brandon Shell.
Only Brown and Iupati were with the Seahawks a year ago. Lewis was drafted in the third round out of Louisiana State, and Shell and Finney signed as free agents.
But of those five, only Brown feels a completely sure thing. There are legitimate contenders at each of the other spots, notably Phil Haynes at left guard, former 2013 first-round draft choice Cedric Ogbuehi (with Tennessee) and Jamarco Jones at tackle (Jones might also line up at guard), Ethan Pocic at guard and center, and Jordan Simmons at guard.
Wednesday will mark the first chance for the Seahawks to see the newcomers (Lewis, Shell, Finney and Ogbuehi) on the field in a full-team session and begin putting it all together.
How will the linebackers shake out?
Quinton Dunbar’s return solidifies the starting secondary (assuming he won’t face any additional NFL suspension), leaving the composition of the linebacking corps the most intriguing personnel situation to watch on defense.
All we really know for sure is Bobby Wagner will again be the middle linebacker and Bruce Irvin is expected to play some at strongside linebacker.
Less certain is where first-round pick Jordyn Brooks and veteran K.J. Wright — the longest-tenured player on the team — ultimately fit in.
Carroll has said Brooks will begin his career at weakside linebacker, which Wright has manned consistently since 2013.
That could move Wright over to the strongside spot, though the Seahawks would certainly wait to be sure they are confident Brooks can handle a full-time job out of the gate before moving Wright to strongside linebacker permanently.
Irvin, though, also will play the LEO or rush end spot quite a bit, which could open up playing time for Wright at strongside linebacker. Or, who knows? Maybe there’s a scenario where they decide Brooks could be the strongside linebacker and leave Wright at weakside linebacker. Carroll last week said the team will explore ways to get all four linebackers on the field at once.
A first look at the rookies
It might be obvious, but the workouts this week also will be the first chance for the Seahawks to get an on-field look at their 11-player 2020 draft class.
As mentioned above, Brooks and Lewis could be primed for starting roles.
Taylor will be, too, assuming no setbacks in his recovery and he can return soon.
But with Taylor on the NFI list for now, that could open the door for Alton Robinson — a fifth-round choice out of Syracuse — to make a move on the depth chart, where Irvin and Benson Mayowa enter camp as the top two in one order or another.
Other rookies the team will get a first look at include running back DeeJay Dallas, receiver Freddie Swain and receiver/tight end Stephen Sullivan.
Ursua still waiting to be activated: Receiver John Ursua, who was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday, told KHON2 TV in Honolulu that he had a second negative test COVID-19 on Monday after also testing negative Sunday. His positive test came Saturday.
Ursua said he hoped that showed he’d had a false positive and will be able to rejoin the Seahawks soon.
However, he was not officially activated Tuesday, meaning that he might have to wait a day.
The Seahawks did make one roster move Tuesday, waiving rookie cornerback Kemah Siverand, an undrafted free agent. That drops their roster to 76 — the max is 80.
However, assuming Ursua returns soon he will take up a spot, meaning the Seahawks might be operating on the idea they now have three open roster spots.