If anything, the official word from the Seahawks on Thursday on injured rookie L.J. Collier seemed a little more ominous than the initial reports Tuesday.
Collier, the team’s first-round pick out of TCU, suffered what Tuesday was initially labeled as a high-ankle sprain. That’s a bad enough diagnosis, which can take a few months to fully recover from.
Thursday, when coach Pete Carroll finally talked to the media about it, he said the injury is not actually a high-ankle sprain. However, he also called it an “unusual’’ sprain, the type he said the team has not seen before, and he offered no clear ETA for when Collier might return.
“He’s got a badly sprained ankle and it’s going to be a little bit, so it’s unfortunate,’’ Carroll said. “We will have to take some time here to figure it out. It’s going to be some weeks, though.’’
Asked specifically if that meant Collier will miss the preseason, Carroll said only the team will take it “one week at a time.’’
Later, Carroll said the injury is to “the upper part of his foot. … We haven’t really had a guy who sprained his ankle just like that so that’s why we are going to be really slow so we know what we are doing with this. It’s a rare sprain.’’
That could mean Collier begins the season on the injured reserve. Teams can now bring back two players a year who go on the injured reserve list after eight weeks, so going on IR would not be a death knell for his season. But players can only return from IR if they are on the team’s initial 53-man roster, which, this year, will be set Aug. 31.
So, don’t expect any move with Collier anytime soon. The team will want to have the option to have Collier on the initial 53-man, and then if he is not ready put him on IR with the ability to then bring him back at midseason.
So what will the team do in the meantime? Carroll said they don’t have to do anything, saying the numbers at the position are good enough for now.
“We never stop looking,’’ Carroll said. “ … Numbers-wise we are OK, but we’ve got to be careful. Got to hope we can keep it together now.’’
Carroll said, for now, the team will continue to lean on Jefferson and Green.
“Quinton Jefferson is doing a nice job and Rasheem Green can go over there, too,’’ Carroll said. “So I don’t think we are out of it.’’
The Seahawks also have Branden Jackson who can play that spot, as well as Nazair Jones. Jones has been limited of late and did not practice again Thursday, though it’s unclear what his situation is. Ziggy Ansah, Cassius Marsh, Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo are the primary players at the LEO, or rush end spot, on the other side.
The option of placing Collier on IR for half the season means Seattle doesn’t have to rush him back, knowing it could groom him for a return for the second half of the year.
Defensive line was already the Seahawks’ biggest question mark, which is why they took Collier in the first round in the first place.
Green was a standout in the preseason a year ago before suffering an ankle injury that helped limit him to just 10 games as a rookie.
Carroll said Thursday he feels the light is going on for Green in Year 2 and that “we’re counting on him to be in the rotation.’’
They may need a lot more than that, though.
Lynch has best day, save for one throw
Carroll has said the Seahawks won’t decide their backup quarterback until the end of the preseason and that Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch’s play in preseason games will decide their fates.
Smith, though, has appeared to be the pretty clear No. 2 in terms of where he generally goes in the rotations, with the thought that the Seahawks might also prefer someone with some experience — Smith has 31 career starts to Lynch’s four.
Lynch, though, had maybe his best day of camp Thursday, at least early on, at one point hitting David Moore with a perfect throw down the sideline for a long touchdown in a seven-on-seven drill, and then hitting Malik Turner on back-to-back throws in a late team session, the latter for a touchdown that was called back due to a penalty at the line of scrimmage.
A few plays later, the drive ended when a Lynch pass intended for Jazz Ferguson flew over his head and was picked off by Shalom Luani in the end zone.
Smith also had one standout play early on, when he evaded the rush a few different times during a red-zone drill and ultimately fired a TD pass to J.D. McKissic in the back of the end zone.
Prosise still has some game
Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone wrote earlier this week about 2016 third-round pick C.J. Prosise’s star-crossed career. Due to injuries, he has played just 16 of a possible 48 games in his first three seasons.
As Stone detailed, Prosise thinks a surgery he had last year finally solved a vexing abdomen issue. And so far, so good this offseason for Prosise. He missed the first day with the flu but otherwise has been healthy, and on Thursday had one of his most active days with a handful of catches in team and seven-on-seven sessions.
If he stays healthy, Seattle’s decision at running back is going to be that much more difficult.
Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are set, but Prosise, Travis Homer, Bo Scarbrough and McKissic are battling for whatever other roster spots the team decides to use at that position. Because the Seahawks seem almost certain to keep fullback Nick Bellore, they might keep just four tailbacks.
Seattle interestingly has classified McKissic as a “return specialist,’’ and he can also play receiver. His versatility and ability to be a returner could keep him safe.
The team has also talked excitedly about Homer’s special-teams prowess, appearing to already be plugging him in to key roles.
And the early word is the team likes the way Scarbrough runs — and with a run-heavy offense, might want to keep around a guy who is 235 pounds and could add depth in the early-down role (Prosise, Homer and McKissic better fit the third-down, two-minute role).
A long way to go yet, but should everyone stay healthy, the Seahawks could have a really tough call come cut-down time.
Here are some other quick notes on things I saw at practice today:
• Al Woods rotated with Jarran Reed with the first-team defensive line, which seems a precursor to getting Woods ready to start at that spot when Reed is suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season. During a late team session, the number one defensive line in a base defensive look was Woods and Poona Ford at tackle with Marsh and Jefferson at ends.
• When Lockett was still sidelined for a time after having the wind knocked out of him, Turner took his place in a three-receiver set with the starting offense during a team session in the late going with Moore and Jaron Brown as the other two starters. DK Metcalf played with the second team in that session. As for Metcalf, this felt like one of his quieter days.
• With Duane Brown and Mike Iupati out, the starting OL usually consisted of, from left to right, George Fant, Ethan Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi. Jamarco Jones worked at LT with the second team. Jones has usually been with the second team behind Brown. But the team also has to get Fant ready to play that spot since Fant will undoubtedly be on the 53-man roster and active on gamedays as a swing tackle. And in times when Seattle might keep just seven OLs active on gamedays, Fant could well be the only other tackle who is active.
• The starting defensive line in nickel situations typically featured Reed and Jefferson inside and Jacob Martin and Marsh outside.
• The first-team LBs are set with Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, but the backup spots remain somewhat up for grabs. Thursday, when Seattle went to its nickel, the two linebackers were Cody Barton and Austin Calitro. Barton is obviously going to make the roster, and as of today I think Calitro would, as well.
• Jason Myers has been largely perfect in camp but missed about a 52-yarder to conclude a late team session.
• Ugo Amadi does indeed appear to be getting more reps at nickel now that DeShawn Shead has been signed and is playing safety, and also with Marquise Blair now healthier and getting more work. Akeem King remains the starting nickel, and Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson the starting safeties. But as the rookies get more work it will be interesting to see how lineups and rotations develop. Luani also continues to be a steady presence and got some time with the first-team defense Thursday working with McDougald.
• Seattle added receiver Nyqwan Murray on Thursday to replace Daniel Williams, who was waived on Wednesday. That keeps Seattle with 12 receivers on the roster.