RENTON The Seahawks had Wednesday off from practice and are back on the field Thursday for the fourth practice of training camp.
What to watch for in their return:
▪ What are they going to do with their open roster spot?
On Wednesday they waived backup long snapper Nolan Frese, who snapped on kicks with shaky results for all 16 regular-season games in 2016. Tyler Ott replaced him for the two playoff games after Frese hurt his ankle, and Ott is still the team’s long snapper.
The move to take Frese off the roster came one day after top rookie draft pick Malik McDowell arrived back in the Seattle area, flying in from Michigan. The promising defensive tackle had been there home recovering from an ATV accident of still-not-completely-known severity last month.
It may be a mere coincidence, the timing of Frese’s released and the team’s plan to have McDowell meet with its medical personnel later Tuesday for the first time so they can finally get a sense of how injured he is.
The Seahawks officially have McDowell on their reserve/did-not-report list. At this time he doesn’t count against their 90-man preseason roster limit. He has to come off reserve/DNR once he reports to the team, which he presumably has now done. Depending on what team doctors have found in examining him themselves, McDowell could go into the open spot on the roster vacated by Frese. That is, if the doctors assess his injuries have healed to the point he is somewhat near being ready to return to practicing -- as in, could return over the next month of preseason practices.
If the Seahawks deem McDowell’s injuries are serious enough that he will not be back soon, they could place him on one of two non-football injury lists for the start of the regular season in early September.
The active/non-football-injury list allows a player to return to practice any time he is medically cleared. He counts against the roster. A team does that when they believe he’s coming back sooner than later.
The reserve/non-football-injury list is like injured reserve -- except unlike IR teams can withhold salary money from a reserve/NFI player. A player on reserve/NFI will not return to play this season.
Non-football injuries for these designations are ones that happen outside routine NFL team acvities. While McDowell’s definitely was a non-football injury, even injuries that happen in college football can be deemed non-football injuries for the sake of these designations.
We’ll see. I’m expecting to learn more about McDowell’s condition perhaps as early as Thursday.
▪ Again, what’s the latest on the offensive line?
I’m making it a daily staple to training-camp summaries, because it remains the top issue the Seahawks need to improve and settle on for this regular season.
Veteran offseason import Oday Aboushi has been the starting right guard in two of the three practices so far. Mark Glowinski was the right guard during preseason OTAs and minicamp. Ethan Pocic, the second-round pick this spring, has been the backup to right tackle Germain Ifedi each day so far. Tuesday, offseason free-agent acquisition Luke Joeckel was the starting left tackle instead of incumbent George Fant in team scrimmaging for the first time in camp.
Line coach Tom Cable often says he wants to find the best five guys for his line, and he’ll figure out the positions for those five guys. Pocic was LSU’s center who has also played guard and tackle. Is he more valuable this season as an ideal “swing” lineman, a guy who on game day can come in at any position on the line? Or, as my daily morning radio pal on 950 KJR Mitch Levy points out regularly, does being a second-round pick the Seahawks essentially traded down out of the first round to take over a starting-caliber cornerback mean Pocic should start?
More to watch for on the line’s daily churn.
▪ How will they beat the heat?
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Thursday for Northwest Washington. It is predicting high temperatures well over 90 degrees and in some spots pushing 100. Plus, the Puget Sound region remained blanketed in haze and smoke Thursday morning from forest fires up north in British Columbia.
I’m from the Midwest, where NFL training camps are routinely this hot and with more humidity. But Seattle folks aren’t accustomed to this. (It’s only been recorded to be 100 degrees three times in Seattle. Ever. The last time was in 2009). When asked Tuesday if he was going to make any special arrangements for practices to deal with the heat late this week, Pete Carroll said: “There won’t be any humidity though, right?”
Then sunnyside-up coach joked that “there’s always a positive,” in everything.
Still, if the practice in pads has more breaks and a slightly different pace, we’ll know why.