RENTON — The Seahawks could be without rookie receiver Dee Eskridge for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans and will be without offensive lineman Ethan Pocic for at least three games.
Those were among four key take-aways from Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s Wednesday news conference looking ahead to the home opener.
Dee Eskridge sits out practice Wednesday
Eskridge, Seattle’s first pick in the 2021 draft, suffered a concussion late in Sunday’s 28-16 win over the Colts in Indianapolis and did not attend meetings or practice Wednesday, putting his availability for Sunday’s game in question.
NFL players in the concussion protocol have to pass a five-step return-to-participation process that could be difficult at this point.
“He’s home today,” Carroll said. “He’s still working his way back.”
The good news is that receiver Penny Hart, who also suffered a concussion, was back to practice Wednesday, meaning he should be able to play Sunday.
But if Eskridge were out, the Seahawks could have to make a move to add another receiver.
Seattle entered the day with three receivers on the practice squad that it could elevate for game day — Cody Thompson, Aaron Fuller and Cade Johnson. Seattle signed two more receivers to the practice squad Wednesday as added depth — former Sumner High standout Connor Wedington, who was in training camp with the team, and former USC receiver De’Quan Hampton.
Eskridge played just 12 snaps against the Colts but impressed with one catch for six yards and two rushes for 22.
Running back Rashaad Penny also missed due to a calf injury. But the team not putting Penny on injured reserve indicates the team thinks he won’t be out more than a week or two, if he does miss Sunday’s game against Tennessee. The only other player who sat out practice Wednesday was guard Gabe Jackson (rest). Three other players were limited: RB Chris Carson and LT Duane Brown (rest) and DL Bryan Mone (elbow). Everyone else was a full participant.
Ethan Pocic to IR to make room for Jon Rhattigan
As was reported Tuesday, the Seahawks made it official that they have signed linebacker Jon Rhattigan off the practice squad. To make room, the Seahawks placed offensive lineman Ethan Pocic on IR with a sprained knee. Players put on IR during the season can come back after missing three games.
And Carroll said the hope is Pocic will be back Oct. 7 in time for Game Five against the Rams.
Pocic played 14 snaps Sunday, rotating with starter Kyle Fuller.
Dakoda Shepley, who was claimed off waivers from the 49ers after the preseason, will now become the backup. Shepley has played in just one NFL game, and Carroll said he’s getting “a crash course” to get ready to play.
“I’m really anxious to watch him this week,” Carroll said.
Pocic going on IR leaves Seattle with nine offensive linemen on its 53-man roster. But if needed, the Seahawks could promote Phil Haynes off the practice squad for Sunday’s game. Haynes played guard throughout the preseason but also got some time at center in training camp practices. However, the Seahawks on Wednesday lost veteran guard Jordan Simmons off the practice squad as he was signed to the Raiders’ 53-man roster.
Carroll: L.J. Collier ‘frustrated’ with being inactive
The most notable roster move Seattle made last weekend might have been declaring 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier as inactive for the game.
Collier was listed as a starter at defensive end heading into the game. In fact, he is still listed as a starter on the depth chart produced this week by the team’s media relations department.
But of the team’s eight listed defensive linemen, Collier was the only one who was not active Sunday.
Collier officially started all 16 games last season when he made 22 tackles and three sacks, and the hope had been that he might have an even bigger breakthrough this season.
Carroll said after the game that declaring Collier inactive was simply a result of how the team devised its defensive line rotations with the scheme for defending the Colts. Still, a first-round pick being a healthy scratch the first game of his third season is hard to ignore.
Asked Wednesday how Collier accepted the news, Carroll said: “He’s frustrated. He wants to play.”
And Carroll said he told Collier that the time will come this season when he will be needed.
“We sat down and talked about it in my office and went through it and all that,” Carroll said. “And he’s doing everything, and he’s practicing like crazy. He’s had a good preseason. He knows his assignments, he knows the scheme and he can play. It’s just kind of fitting it all together. It’s a long season and he’s going to be a factor for sure, down the road here, if not immediately. So he’s available every week, and we’ll look at it all over again.”
Will the Jordyn Brooks-Cody Barton rotation continue?
The Seahawks not only rotated at center against the Colts, but also at nickel, with Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi, and at least briefly at weakside linebacker with Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton.
The center rotation is now off with Pocic being out. And Carroll indicated Monday that the nickel rotation likely will continue.
As for the weakside linebacker spot?
Carroll was noncommittal when asked Wednesday how Barton played. “We need more stuff,” Carroll said. “We just keep taking on information. We’ll see.”
Barton was first inserted into the game on the third series with Seattle ahead 14-3. He played five plays as the Colts drove down the field, then was taken out in favor of Brooks as the Colts scored to cut the lead to 14-10. He got three snaps later in the game for eight total, with Brooks getting the other 56.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. indicated after practice that the team could look to continue to get some snaps for Barton. “The plan was to get him some reps out there and play in a little rotation,” Norton said. “… I thought he did a really good job.”
Rhattigan gives the Seahawks a fifth inside linebacker on its 53-man roster, if you include Nick Bellore, who is officially the team’s starting fullback but has been working mostly with the defense to add depth.
But Norton said for now that Rhattigan’s primary position is middle linebacker. Barton has been playing both weakside and strongside.