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Healthy preseason just as important for Tyler Lockett, C.J. Prosise

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In researching this piece about Doug Baldwin, I came across a reminder that Baldwin missed important development time with injury between his first and second seasons. One of the most underrated aspects to a “bad year” is the hidden factor of missed practices and preseason games that won’t show up on pro-football-reference, ESPN, PFF, or FootballOutsiders.

We treat practice almost like it doesn’t matter. Some coaches would probably tell you that practice matters way more than games, and many of those bad games and bad seasons are likely in part due to not being able to participate in certain practices; this is especially true of young guys trying to earn a spot on the roster, learn the playbook through running it, and developing chemistry with a quarterback, fellow linemen, or a veteran in the secondary among other things.

So what players missed time during the 2017 offseason, training camp, and preseason who could be poised to contribute more meaningful snaps in 2018 if they stay off of the injury report?

The two most important names on that list are probably going to be Tyler Lockett and C.J. Prosise.

Lockett suffered a broken leg late in 2016, but because he played in all 16 games last season it feels like he just had a disappointing year without explanation beyond “he’s inconsistent.” I have certainly been guilty of that myself. But Lockett started training camp on PUP, getting activated on August 4. He felt ready to play immediately:

“One of the things that I thought about was when I was a kid, I had a dog,” Lockett said. “When you train him, you’ve got to keep him in a little cage. I felt like I was stuck in a cage for eight months after I broke my leg. So as soon as they let me go today, I didn’t know what to do. So I was just running around, having fun, being a little kid again.”

Lockett was ready by Week 1, like he predicted he would be, but he had just eight yards on on catch out of three targets while playing in 26 snaps. He caught six of nine targets the following week, but never developed a consistent repertoire with Russell Wilson and was also tasked with focusing on kick and punt return duties for the entire year. With Rashaad Penny now in the mix at kick returner, maybe Lockett can focus more on being a receiver this season, something they’ll need from him following the losses of Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham.

Of course, Prosise is even more familiar with missing time due to injury even though he’s played in one fewer season than Lockett.

Coming out of Notre Dame in 2016, Prosise had the “injury red flag” at running back:

Prosise’s 2015 season was slowed by injuries, particularly a high ankle sprain that sat him down during the Boston College game. Prosise dealt with ankle and head injuries throughout the season, and franchises will ask if he can physically hold up at running back.

He has lived “up” to that “hype” by playing in just 11 of a possible 32 games, 34 if you include playoffs. Most of that has to do with being seriously hurt during the season, but it also comes down to him missing important development time in the preseason that causes him to fall on the depth chart and become less of a concern/thought for Pete Carroll and the rest of the staff.

Last season, Prosise missed a lot of preseason and training camp time with a groin injury, but he was also on the sidelines early in the process due to an illness. This really has to be the year that Prosise is on the field for every practice because with Penny, Chris Carson, J.D. McKissic, and Mike Davis around, there might not even be a spot on the 53-man roster for him if he doesn’t give coaches an adequate sense that he can: A) play at a high level again and B) stay healthy for longer than a month.

Lockett and Prosise could be two of the most important and exciting players on the Seattle offense in 2018, but a healthy July and August could be just as important as how they do in September and beyond.

Here are a few more names of players who got hurt or missed time in 2017:

George Fant, torn ACL

Amara Darboh, concussion protocol, sternum

Frank Clark, fight, knee

Germain Ifedi, fight

Thomas Rawls, ankle

Justin Coleman, late-year addition

Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Tyler Lockett, D.J. Alexander, Luke Joeckel, Michael Wilhoite, K.J. Wright, Regenokine therapy

DeShawn Shead, ACL recovery

Paul Richardson, shoulder

Quinton Jefferson, knee

Earl Thomas, broken leg recovery

Doug Baldwin, foot (minor)

DeAndre Elliott, leg

Malik McDowell, ATV accident