The nickel cornerback position may be even more open than has been thought, it’s still a little unclear exactly when Ziggy Ansah will take the field, and one of the Seahawks’ drafted receivers is still waiting to make his mark.
Those are among the things we learned at the 12th practice of Seahawks training camp Sunday. Here’s a look.
NICKEL CORNER POSITION IS ‘UP FOR GRABS’
The first practice after the first preseason game is often most notable for seeing if there have been any noticeable changes to the depth chart.
Sunday, there was one that stood out — Kalan Reed working consistently with the starting defense at nickel corner.
That’s a spot that has usually been reserved for Akeem King through the first two weeks of camp. Reed appeared to get a bit more work there last week, as well. But on Sunday, he was usually with the first group, and coach Pete Carroll said afterward that Reed — who was on the 53-man roster much of last season but did not play in any games — is indeed getting his shot this week to work with the starters and show the coaches how it looks.
“Kalan Reed has done a really nice overall job,’’ Carroll said. “Run (defense) and pass coverage wise, he’s done all the stuff well enough so that he can hold on to a spot going into the week.’’
But Carroll said that’s a designation that could change quickly with King, rookie Ugo Amadi and veteran Jamar Taylor also all still in the running, even if all are not guaranteed spots on the 53-man roster.
“It’s just up for grabs and those guys will be rotating evenly through,’’ Carroll said.
Carroll said the real key right now is to get all four enough work at the nickel spot to give them a fair evaluation and that a starter doesn’t need to be determined until camp ends.
“I’m not worried about it right now,’’ he said. “We’ve got plenty of time. As long as guys are getting good, quality work we are in good shape.’’
Still, that’s a far cry from last season when Justin Coleman had the spot locked down and then played it well enough to earn a four-year deal worth up to $36 million from the Detroit Lions.
SEAHAWKS WON’T GET THEIR ANSAH JUST YET
Ziggy Ansah, the team’s marquee free-agent signee counted on to help replace the pass rush lost with the trade of Frank Clark, remains limited to conditioning work only during practices as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Carroll said Ansah is in good shape but that the team hopes he can have two weeks or so of practice before he would play in a game.
But it remains unclear exactly when he will be ready to do that, Carroll said.
“He’s doing a really good job,’’ Carroll said. “He’s in good shape now, his strength is almost back to where it needs to be. He’s getting a ton of work. The walk through periods we get, he takes all the reps in those periods, so he’s up scheme-wise on what’s going on. We’ve just got to get him to playing football again — that won’t happen for a bit. Again, we’re going to take our time, make sure he’s secure when he comes back.”
Carroll said practice will be important for Ansah even though he is a pretty proven veteran.
“Everybody needs to practice in order to get ready,’’ he said. “But, Ziggy’s a really good ball player, he’s played a lot of football, he’s done all of the things we’ve asked him to do in our scheme, he’s really an excellent fit for us, as long as he’s up mentally and communication-wise and we can see that in the walk through we know he’s making progress towards being ready. It’s that last bit of shucking the blocks, getting your leverage right, getting your pads down and all that kind of stuff and his timing on his pass rush, that will come when he gets back on the practice field going. Hopefully a couple weeks before the game, he’ll be back with us working and that should be enough.”
JENNINGS STILL WAITING TO MAKE HIS MARK
There were two obvious receiving stories Thursday — DK Metcalf being just “a hair’’ away from being spectacular, just barely unable to connect on two pases from Geno Smith, and Jazz Ferguson making four catches for 54 yards and a TD.
Metcalf appeared to get even more work with the starting unit on Sunday, though as Carroll noted, that’s what they want to do right now is work in young players with the starting groups as much as they can to see how they hold up, while Ferguson also got some reps with the main unit.
Quiet so far has been fourth-round pick Gary Jennings out of West Virginia, who played the most snaps of any receiver Thursday — 39 (Ferguson had 35 and Metcalf 26) but did not catch a pass on two targets (one a poor throw from Paxton Lynch).
And while Metcalf and Ferguson have also made their presence felt regularly in practices, Jennings has made far fewer plays, in part due to getting a slow start after missing much of offseason program with a lingering hamstring injury.
Carroll acknowledged that Jennings hasn’t had a lot of star turns so far in camp but also said it’s far too early to draw any real conclusions.
“It’s been hard, him and Malik (Turner),’’ Carroll said. “The ball hasn’t come their way very often yet. But they’re doing well physically. He’s (Jennings) a monster out there, really strong and explosive, and he’s done a really nice job. You can really see it in the one on one’s when he can compete and when the ball is coming his way. There just hasn’t been enough football’s flying for these guys to show yet. We’ve got plenty of time, there’s three more big weeks, games, and this week as well. Every single day matters to these guys, he’s shown he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the size, and he’s learning the system, really strong hands too so, really good prospect.”
Still, the next week or so will be critical for Jennings to assure a spot on the roster. His status as a fourth-round pick has led to the general idea that he’s safe. But Ferguson’s emergence, if it continues, will bump off someone who has been thought to be a given.
RASHEEM GREEN MAKING SECOND-YEAR LEAP?
Second-year defensive end Rasheem Green battled injuries much of his rookie season. But he’s healthy now, as evidenced by his 47 snaps Thursday, third-most of any defensive player.
He had three tackles and one tackle-for-a-loss in the game, and while his roster spot has never seemed in doubt, such performances at least help make the team feel more comfortable that he’ll be able to handle a substantial role this season.
“He’s popping out now,’’ Carroll said of Green. “His quickness is there, he’s more powerful than he was, obviously his awareness and his timing is better because he’s more experienced. He flashed in the game really nice and had a nice day again at practice, had a couple good days last week too. It’s exciting, we need him to be a factor, to play end for sure on early downs and to be an inside rusher would be really something and he’s competing to be on the first rush group and it’s good to see him, he’s shown up.”
ONLY SHUFFLING OF SAFETIES COMING IN THE BACKUP SPOTS, FOR NOW
One of the biggest questions heading into training camp — who will start at the other safety spot opposite Bradley McDougald — remains undecided.
But Carroll on Sunday threw a strong vote of confidence the way of third-year player Tedric Thompson, who has consistently worked as the other safety alongside McDougald.
“He plays like a veteran,’’ Carroll said. “He knows what’s going on, he can make all the calls, he can help guys get lined up. He understands what’s going on the other side of the ball well. He can help a lot in recognizing and identifying stuff. He was a fast starter, learning-wise, so he’s in good shape right now. He’s like a true veteran playing back there.”
Thompson has consistently worked with the starters in part because of health issues with others at that spot— Lano Hill has yet to practice while recovering from hip surgery and rookie Marquise Blair also missed some time due to injury.
Blair is now healthy and showed the physicality and athleticism the team has hoped for throughout Thursday’s game and on Sunday he worked regularly with the second defense alongside veteran DeShawn Shead.
Shalom Luani also remains a factor. But Blair from the start had a roster spot secured while Carroll said Shead is getting more comfortable by the day at safety after having been primarily a cornerback at the end of his first stint with the team, and if the season started today Blair and Shead might well be the backups behind Thompson and McDougald, with Luani and Hill battling to try to earn a fifth spot, if Seattle were to keep that many.
“He’s fitting in,’’ Carroll said. “DeShawn’s really, in my mind has always been a corner, but to play safety, he’s really always been a more instinctive corner so, now that he’s zeroing in on safety, he’s got some stuff to make up, some background stuff, but he understands the principles, he’s a really good ball player and the flexibility, his ability to cover tight ends, inside receivers, he’s got all that. I’m anxious to watch how much impact he has on special teams because he was always a core special teams guy and the competition on the core spots, it’s up, it’s on there right now.’’
As for Hill, it’s unclear when he’ll get on the field full go — he has been limited to conditioning work since coming back from the PUP list last week. But time is obviously beginning to be not on his side.