RENTON — So, what can Seahawks fans expect out of Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah in Sunday’s season opener against Cincinnati?
The two most common responses from Seahawks coaches Wednesday were “you’ll have to wait and see’’ and “it’s hard to say.’’
In fact, there appeared to be a pretty coordinated effort at the VMAC to mute the immediate expectations for the team’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions who will make their Seattle debuts against the Bengals — possibly because fan and media excitement has ratcheted up in the wake of the Clowney trade.
That effort might be in part because each player is still listed as practicing on a limited basis on the official NFL participation report. Clowney’s snaps are being monitored because he sat out all of Houston’s offseason program and training camp and is still getting back into football shape. Ansah is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery.
The two are still learning Seattle’s system — Clowney because he just got here Saturday and Ansah because he wasn’t able to practice until last week due to the surgery and then a groin injury.
“We’re not going to over-expect here,’’ said Carroll, who stated the “wait and see” line when asked how much the two might play Sunday, and he repeated that line in regard to a few other topics throughout his Wednesday news conference.
“Hopefully we can play some really good football,’’ Carroll said. “It’s going to take us a while to get to our best. We are so new. It’s brand-new guys. So we’ll see how it goes. But our expectations will be really high as we move forward, and right now we’ve just got to get to playing football and see where we are and make some assessments as we go.’’
Maybe some of the call for patience was also in part due to memories of seasons past.
Middle linebacker and defensive team captain Bobby Wagner recalled the high hopes that greeted the 2017 team when the Seahawks acquired defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson at the cutdown date, eliciting stories labeling Seattle as suddenly having maybe the best defense in the NFL and on par with the team that won the Super Bowl in 2013.
Seattle responded by going 9-7 and missing the playoffs for the only time since 2011.
“I think we have a chance to be really good,’’ Wagner said. “You kind of don’t want to get caught up in all the hype, as far as seeing all the names and seeing all the stuff. I’m not saying we did that (in 2017). But, we were at the point where we made a trade for Sheldon and they listed all the All-Pros and Pro Bowlers that were on the team and it didn’t go the way we expected it to. So, I think the focus is, ‘You’ve still have to do the work.’ So, it doesn’t matter who’s on the team, we still have to make sure that we come out there, prepare, get ready to go.’’
Defensive-line coach Clint Hurtt was less shy about expecting that big things could happen with Clowney and Ansah pretty quickly.
“The way they’re working and their attention to detail, it won’t take very long,’’ Hurtt said after practice. “It won’t take very long at all. Because their conditioning is not an issue right now. Would I say they’re in prime football condition right now? Probably not. But they’re pretty doggone close.’’
And if Carroll said Seahawks fans might not see all that the team has planned for a defense featuring Clowney and Ansah on Sunday, he didn’t bother to mute his giddiness over what it could become once it all comes together.
“I’ve said before, any coach in the history of football is looking for a pass rush getting into Week 1 and if you can find a way to get a guy,’’ Carroll said. “So for this to happen here in this situation here is really exciting, and hopefully we can make the most of it.’’
But, he repeated, it might just take a little time.
“Hopefully we make progress through the game and then get to Game 2 and continue to make progress as we go,” he said. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near where we will be with those guys. We’ll just take off and see what happens and adjust as we go and learn them as they learn us. Hopefully we make really good decisions along the way and make progress.”
Here’s more of what we learned at the VMAC on Wednesday:
DK Metcalf making progress
One of Carroll’s “you’ll have to wait and see” answers was reserved for whether heralded rookie receiver DK Metcalf will play Sunday.
But signs continue to point to him being available.
Metcalf, who is listed as a starter at one receiver spot in the team’s base offense on the depth chart released by the team’s media-relations department, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, 15 days after he had minor knee surgery.
Hunt, Iupati, Moore, Brown sit out
Four players sat out practice, but one — left tackle Duane Brown — appeared to just be getting a rest day, though he was officially listed as having a knee issue. (Brown talked to the media before practice, something the team wouldn’t likely let him do if the knee was a serious issue.)
Two of the other three already weren’t expected to play: receiver David Moore (shoulder) and backup center Joey Hunt (ankle).
Projected starting left guard Mike Iupati (calf) was also out. He didn’t play in the preseason, battling foot and calf injuries.
When asked before practice if Iupati will play Sunday, Carroll said, “We’ll see how he goes, one day at a time. I can’t tell yet.’’
If Iupati can’t play, Ethan Pocic will get the start at left guard.
As he has throughout camp, Carroll again offered a glowing assessment of the improvement of Pocic so far in what is his third NFL season after being taken in the second round of the draft out of LSU in 2017.
“He has become just more powerful,’’ Carroll said. “He’s getting old-man strength here by playing a few years. … He seems like he’s harnessed a new level of power for himself and it shows up. He’s ready to go. If he plays the whole game, I’m fine, I feel very comfortable with that.”
Seven listed as limited
Seven players were listed as limited: Clowney, Ansah and Metcalf as well as offensive tackle George Fant (ankle), receiver Jaron Brown (toe), defensive end L.J. Collier (ankle) and linebacker Shaquem Griffin (knee).
Collier did not play in the preseason but has begun increasing his work over the past week and might have a shot to play Sunday.
Fant suffered his injury in the first preseason game Aug. 8, and the hope all along is that he would be ready for the regular-season opener. The expectation seems to be that Griffin will play.
Blair a full participant
The only other player listed on the injury report was rookie safety Marquise Blair, who sat out much of the preseason finale against the Raiders with a back/hip issue (the team is officially calling it a back injury on the report, though Carroll earlier has called it a hip pointer).
Blair is listed as a backup at free safety behind Tedric Thompson.