The Seattle Seahawks opened their 2018 training camp Thursday morning with their first practice of the new season. However, similar to last year, the status of Malik McDowell overshadowed the beginning of camp.
On the Seahawks’ first day of training camp last year, the morning began with vague whispers about McDowell’s expected absence, ultimately leading the team to release a statement on his status. This year, McDowell was released on the first day of camp, ending a sad and bizarre 15 months with the team.
In addition to the release of McDowell, Seattle placed Kam Chancellor on the reserve/PUP list, officially ending his 2018 season. Cornerback DeAndre Elliott was also released, having been unable to comeback from the lower leg injury that ended his 2017. In corresponding moves, the Seahawks signed tight ends Kayaune Ross and Je’Ron Hamm.
Following the conclusion of practice, both Dion Jordan and Ed Dickson were placed on the PUP, however unlike Chancellor, they are eligible to be removed at any time during the preseason.
- The new look Seattle secondary took to the field for the first time Thursday, with Shaquill Griffin and Byron Maxwell at their expected left and right cornerback spots, Bradley McDougald at strong safety, and Tedric Thompson at free safety. Pete Carroll did later say they are going to do some rotating in the secondary.
- Also of note in the secondary: Sophomore Mike Tyson worked heavily with the safeties, not the cornerbacks.
- The most attention on Thursday went to the players not practicing, rather than those who were. Of course, most notably, Earl Thomas was absent, while Jordan and Dickson sat out practice prior to going on the PUP. Dickson picked up a groin injury in recent weeks, while Jordan is dealing with a knee injury. Additionally, Dontae Johnson sat out as he recovers from a foot injury, with Carroll saying he was still a couple weeks away.
- Bobby Wagner sat out team drills on the first day and so it was UDFA Emmanuel Beal starting at middle linebacker. Beal, an outside ‘backer at Oklahoma, is an interesting next-man-up inside. Fellow UDFA Jacob Pugh figures to be a natural backup to Barkevious Mingo, while Shaquem Griffin is behind K.J. Wright on the weakside. Without a natural middle linebacker on the roster behind Wagner, Beal gets the first opportunity.
- Finally, Frank Clark was limited on the first day of practice, later revealing on Q13 Fox’s live stream that he had hand surgery last month, and is still working back from it.
Pete Carroll’s Press Conference
- While he wasn’t part of the starting group on Thursday, Carroll sounded optimistic about veteran safety Maurice Alexander: “I was really impressed with what Mo did in years past. He was unable to participate throughout the offseason, this was his first time on the field. We’ll ramp him up in the next 5-6 days. He’s ready to go, but I’m excited to see how he fits in.”
- Similarly, Carroll was enthusiastic about Thompson’s offseason and how he looks on the field: “T2, he looks sweet. He’s looked great throughout the time that we’ve had him, he’s got a great feel for what’s going on, he’s a great studier, he had a fantastic offseason, and he looked great out here to get us going. So he’s right in the middle of it all.” Everything is great at free safety, then.
- Asked about McDowell for perhaps the final time, Carroll once again echoed the disappointment that’s been apparent throughout the last year: “It always was disappointing. This whole process was disappointing because he had a real upside. We took a big pick to take him and unfortunately it didn’t happen. We made a move last year (the trade for Sheldon Richardson) because he wasn’t here, so that shows you how important he was.”
- On the status of George Fant, who is returning from a torn ACL suffered last preseason: “George is going to be 4-5 days before he’s ready to go. He seems that he’s ready, we’re just getting him back into practice mode to ensure he’s back. We’re ramping him up, he’s full-go. We’re just holding back now a little bit.”
- The initial Fant question was then followed up by a question on whether he will play right tackle upon his return. Carroll didn’t shutdown the possibility, saying: “The potential is there, but he has no background playing over there, other then a little bit of work we did in the offseason to prepare for that. Right now we think it’s best for him to sit at the left tackle spot where he knows what he’s doing and get him back in action and go from there.”
- Asked about special teams phenom Neiko Thorpe, Carroll spoke glowingly and offered an encouraging comparison: “Neiko is a good football player. He’s physical, he’s tough, he runs fast. He’s been one of our guys long enough, he’s really good technique wise now. He’s like what we saw Maxxy (Byron Maxwell) develop into after a couple years, and it’s a good competition. We’ll see how it goes.”
- On rookie Jacob Martin, who recorded the first interception of training camp, Carroll described him in a role similar to the one played previously by Bruce Irvin, and now Mingo: “Jacob is a really good player. In college, they played him on the edge and rushed him all the time. Which he can do. But we all thought if we worked him at the SAM linebacker spot, we might be able to use that in pressure situations and still rush him on third downs, but also make him a linebacker for us, for the competition of it all.”
- Finally, Carroll was asked what he learned from Chancellor’s holdout in 2015. In his answer, he spoke about how proud he was of Chancellor:
Here is Pete Carroll on what he learned from Kam Chancellor's holdout, and how proud he was of the way Kam returned: pic.twitter.com/Vjn8WViw7K— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) July 26, 2018
Seattle will return to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Friday morning for the second day of training camp, with practice starting at 10 AM.