Irvin out, linebackers still shine at Seahawks OTAs

The Seahawks pass-rusher had hip surgery Monday, but his unit continues to impress in OTAs without him

dave.boling@thenewstribune.comJune 3, 2014 

RENTON — Hips remain the joint of primary vulnerability with the Seattle Seahawks as linebacker Bruce Irvin underwent surgery Monday with no early timetable established for his return.

Receiver Percy Harvin was sidelined most of last season after having a hip operation, and offseason surgery already has strong safety Kam Chancellor on the shelf.

Irvin was the Seahawks’ first-round pick in 2012 (15th overall). Because of his pass-rushing speed around the edge, Irvin was originally projected to play the Leo defensive end position but last season was moved to strong-side linebacker.

He missed the first four games last season due to a suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He finished with two sacks and one interception in the 12 games he played.

Harvin has returned to health and has been impressive during the team’s organized team activities (OTAs) thus far. Chancellor is expected to return to action by training camp.

Even without Irvin, the linebackers have been a story in the early going, and again on Monday they came up with an interception — this time it was K.J. Wright picking off Russell Wilson on a pass over the middle after a scramble.

“We’re just playing defense,” middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “It takes a lot. We don’t call ourselves the best, we’ve got to prove it every day in practice or on the field. I love the (defensive) line, and the secondary gets a lot of talk, but you will talk about the linebackers this year.”

Unfortunately for them, though, the linebacker topic of Monday was the injury to Irvin. Because coach Pete Carroll did not address the media on Monday, no one was available to elaborate on Irvin’s injury.

Irvin, though, tweeted that he expected to be back by training camp. Mike Morgan filled in with the starting defense at Irvin’s spot, but it’s a versatile group with a number of possible options.

Malcolm Smith and O’Brien Schofield got starts early last season when Irvin was suspended, and Smith later filled in for the injured Wright late in the season — performing so well through the playoffs he eventually earned the Super Bowl MVP award.

With such depth at outside linebacker, Wagner said that “everybody has to come out every day and prove themselves.”

That’s particularly true of himself, Wagner said.

“I really want to stand out,” said Wagner, who will be entering his third season. “As a middle linebacker, I feel you have to be the leader of this defense. I really want to stand out and make a lot of plays and be a lot more vocal.”

Forcing turnovers in these OTA practices, Wagner said, is an example of what drives the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense.

“Everybody’s trying to get better, and I think that’s what makes our defense so special,” he said. “Even though we did so good last year, everybody still feels there something we’ve got to get better with.”

The Super Bowl win was just the start, he said.

“The Super Bowl was great, but I think everybody on this team (wants to be) something more than just the team that won the one Super Bowl,” he said. “Our focus is on winning another one and trying to be that same dominate team we were last year.”

PLAYS OF DAY

The offensive play of the day was Wilson’s 50-yard touchdown pass to rookie Paul Richardson.

The defensive play of the day, too, involved Wilson, as Wright intercepted him on a pass across the middle after a scramble.

Afterward, Wilson said he thought the receivers have been the most impressive group on the team. Having a healthy Harvin back makes a huge difference, he said.

EXTRA POINTS

Kam Chancellor (hip), Russell Okung (foot), Sidney Rice (knee) are all still out. Rice was running but not participating in drills. LB Smith was not wearing the boot that had been protecting his surgically repaired ankle, but he did not practice. Marshawn Lynch was absent again. DT Tony McDaniels also was absent. Rookies Cassius Marsh and Andru Pulu missed because they are not eligible because of late graduation at their schools. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was back after missing some practice last week. ... Rookie Justin Britt was getting work with the first offense at right tackle as it appeared Michael Bowie might have been dinged and held out of team drills. Defensive end Cliff Avril missed time last week (honeymoon) but was back in action. CB Tharold Simon (foot), also saw action.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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