RENTON The Seahawks still don’t have -- or have and are not providing -- specifics on Malik McDowell’s injuries or his prognosis for playing his rookie season this fall.
But it sounds ominous.
It sounds more like Seattle’s top rookie draft choice is going to remain off the field for a long time, perhaps months not weeks.
When I asked Pete Carroll following the fourth practice of training camp on Thursday if McDowell’s injury situation from his ATV accident last month in Michigan was a long-term issue, the coach said yes.
When Pro Bowl leader Michael Bennett was asked about his fellow defensive lineman, Bennett talked about his concern for McDowell’s quality of life and his hope the rookie’s brain was OK for the long term.
“My reaction is, I’m just hoping he’s OK,” Bennett said. “At the end of the day, it’s really not about football at this point. It’s really about his longevity in life, and, I think, to make sure that his brain is good and everything is good after this accident happens to you. We want to make sure he’s OK.”
This is what Carroll said on a day the team added McDowell to the 90-man preseason roster with a non-football-injury designation: “He’s doing all kinds of appointments and stuff so we know exactly what is going on. He’s got a lot of stuff again today.
“I really don’t have much to report for you. But it’s going to take a while to figure it out.”
Carroll went on to say: “It’s very disappointing. And there is nothing we can do about it right now. But just take the time to assess and figure out what this all means.”
Do you expect him to be ready for the start of the season next month?
“I don’t know,” Carroll said. “I don’t know that.”
Is there still a chance McDowell can play this season?
“I don’t know that. I really don’t. And I’m not taking any sides. I don’t know. I don’t know what the deal is yet.”
But either way, it’s a long-term thing?
“Yes,” Carroll said. “Yes.”
Yes, I hear your questions why the team is being so vague about the exact nature of his injuries.
Carroll said this when asked what he could say on the nature of McDowell’s injuries: “We’re just not saying anything right now, because we are just staying out of it as far as... check with the docs (which media cannot do, by team rule).
“I have nothing to report. I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
McDowell went into the open spot on the roster created Wednesday when Seattle waived backup long snapper Nolan Frese. Upon McDowell’s arrival into camp late Tuesday, he saw team doctors. That was the team’s first chance to assess whether 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.
There are two types of NFI lists in the league, as we detailed here earlier Thursday.
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 activities. 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.
So the Seahawks are practicing on without McDowell in the speedy inside pass-rushing role they have planned for him. No one on the roster -- general manager John Schneider has said no Seahawk since he arrived with Carroll to lead the team in 2010 -- has McDowell’s size (6 feet 6, 299 pounds) and ability to speed past inside blockers in passing situations.
And the Seahawks will remain without that kind of force for the foreseeable future.