RENTON — On the ninth day of Seahawks training camp, the team’s depth started to be tested due to injuries and absence — none of which seems overly serious or likely to cause anyone to miss regular season games, other than maybe tight end Ed Dickson.
But on Monday, things got weird enough that, with three of the team’s top four linebackers sidelined, Seattle had to turn for a little while to fullback Nick Bellore – who had been a linebacker for most of his previous eight NFL seasons — to help fill out the defense.
“He played linebacker for a long time,’’ Carroll said. “He’s only played fullback for a couple years. It’s getting back in the saddle for him. No problem. He can help us, he’s a good, physical guy and if we need help, that’s the idea. We just try and get ready and use this time to get him some background so if we call on him, he can go.’’
That’s the positive spin, anyway, of Bobby Wagner sitting out after having had a platelet-rich plasma injection on his leg, Mychal Kendricks out to handle some “business’’ and Cody Barton remaining sidelined with a groin issue.
The Seahawks went with a trio of K.J. Wright, Austin Calitro and Shaquem Griffin as its usual starting linebacker group Monday.
And in the “next man up’’ world of the NFL, that means lots of valuable reps for Calitro and Griffin as they head into what will be a key preseason for each to solidify roles on the team.
Here are a few other thoughts from Monday’s practice:
Dissly steps up big
Dickson may need what Carroll called a minor surgery on his knee, which could keep him out as much as six weeks. Jacob Hollister, one of the stars of Saturday’s mock game, is also out with a groin issue Carroll called minor but also said they’ll need to keep assessing to see how long he will be out.
That left the Seahawks on Monday with just two healthy tight ends who began training camp on the team’s roster — Will Dissly and Nick Vannett.
Dissly stepped into the void to have maybe his best practice yet with two touchdowns from Russell Wilson in one team session and another from Paxton Lynch a little later.
And if you’re worried about some of the aches and pains that accumulate this time of year, Dissly is the other side of the coin, having come back from his patellar tendon injury even more quickly than the team anticipated.
“He was all over the place,” Carroll said.
Vannett has also had a solid camp.
“Nick has been great the whole time for us,” Carroll said. “He’s a solid guy that can do everything and has been really good around the red zone.”
But the depth is getting thin at tight end, too.
Seattle put Tyrone Swoopes and Justin Johnson on injured reserve over the weekend and had to sign free agents Jackson Harris and Wes Saxton on Saturday to fill out the position.
Both got ample work Monday, with Harris at one point working in a two-tight end set with the starting offense.
Jazz keeps tuning his game
Rookie undrafted free agent Jazz Ferguson has been taking advantage of increased opportunities of late. He had two touchdowns late in Saturday’s mock game and another on Monday, when he grabbed a pass between DeShawn Shead and Neiko Thorpe.
“He’s battling,’’ Carroll said. “Part of the competition.’’
Ferguson would be playing a lot anyway, but with DK Metcalf still out Monday with an oblique issue (Carroll said he could likely have practiced but they are being cautious) he stands out as the biggest receiver on the field.
Though Ferguson has done his part to get the coach’s attention, some other receivers may be on the outside looking in.
Third-year veteran Amara Darboh in particular has been quiet of late. Darboh had some nice moments in the offseason program but has seemed off the radar lately. Monday he missed a chance when a pass on a fade route in the end zone went through his hands. There was tight coverage, but it looked like a play that could have been made. To be sure, he’s going to have to make some plays to hang around long.
Flowers rebounds from Saturday
Second-year cornerback Tre Flowers had a rough moment near the end of the mock game when he tipped a pass that looked like he should have just picked off that went into Ferguson’s hands for a touchdown.
He also was called for a pass interference penalty late.
Monday, he appeared to make up for it with a vengeance, at one point knocking away a roughly-40-yard Wilson pass intended for Tyler Lockett as well as another breakup on a pass for Jaron Brown. On another occasion, he sniffed out a screen to Lockett and evaded a blocker for what would have been a loss.
Is Hill ready to make a run at safety?
The only transaction listed for the Seahawks on Monday was safety Lano Hill passing his physical.
Hill had been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list while still recovering from offseason hip surgery to fix an injury suffered in the regular season finale against Arizona.
Hill had a helmet on and did some significant conditioning work during the practice. He’ll return to on-field drills as soon as Tuesday.
That could finally shake up a safety competition that, due to injuries, hasn’t really been as heated as everyone anticipated heading into training camp.
With Hill still recovering and rookie Marquise Blair also out early, the starting safeties throughout have been Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson. Shalom Luani, who played much of Saturday’s mock game at strong safety alongside Thompson with the first-team defense, has been next in the rotation.
There was some thought at the end of last season that Carroll was intrigued by pairing McDougald and Hill — they started the final two wins against the Chiefs and Cardinals — and may well have gone with that duo in the playoff game against Dallas before Hill’s injury was discovered.
The thought here is that Seattle is going to want to give that pairing a long look before making any decisions on the back end of the defense.