Seahawks top rookie draft choice Malik McDowell was involved in what the team termed a “vehicular accident” this month in Michigan. The uniquely athletic defensive lineman’s status to play this season is unknown.
When I asked coach Pete Carroll on Sunday following the first practice of training camp if there was a possibility McDowell might not play for Seattle in 2017, Carroll replied: “We’ll see. We’ll see. I don’t know that.”
“It’s challenging,” Carroll said, adding McDowell remains home in Michigan and no longer hospitalized. “He had extraordinarily high hopes to be here, be with us, and he’s not able to.”
NFL Network reported McDowell sustained “a concussion and facial injuries” in the accident.
McDowell posted a statement on his Twitter account Sunday after the Seahawks announced the accident. He indicated he’d be back with the team soon and that his injury, singular, “is not life or career threatening as some have speculated.”
A source with knowledge of McDowell’s situation in Michigan confirmed to The News Tribune he was involved in an ATV accident.
NFL Network first reported that on Sunday. Its report came moments after a Seahawks spokesman read the above statement on the situation that McDowell’s family approved — and while quarterback Russell Wilson was saying he and his teammates “were praying” for McDowell.
The Seahawks placed McDowell on the reserve/did-not-report list and signed defensive tackle Rodney Coe to take McDowell’s place on the 90-man preseason roster. Coe was an undrafted rookie free agent last year with Dallas.
The Seahawks couldn’t say more about McDowell’s accident or his injuries because his family did not authorize the team to do so. Because the accident happened away from football, during the players’ six-week break that ended with Saturday’s training-camp reporting deadline, the team for now has less latitude in detailing his incident.
“Everything’s above-board and cleared, what we are doing,” Carroll said. “It’s just going to take a little while. And just because it’s the first time there’s a statement that’s come out, we’re just honoring the family and how to handle this properly.”
The Seahawks used McDowell in Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett’s role during offseason workouts: a hybrid, speed tackle in passing situations to create mismatches against opposing centers and guards. And at 6-foot-6 and 299 pounds with slithery quickness, Seattle’s first pick in this spring’s draft at the top of the second round had been likely to get many mismatches in his favor in that specialized role.
Whether he still will this season was unclear Sunday, though McDowell’s message was positive.
“We’ll wait and see,” Carroll said. “It’s been a little while since the accident happened. But we are still waiting to figure all that out.”
Sunday’s news gave added meaning to what McDowell tweeted with a praying-hands emoji on July 17, now apparently after his accident: “Just wanna thank the lord that I’m still here”