Pete Carroll predicted the post-surgical return of Kam Chancellor and Russell Okung to be near the start of training camp, so his timetable proved fairly accurate. The two joined practice for the first time on Monday, and although they didn’t participate in team sessions, they look fit and moved without any obvious health issues.
Each being Pro Bowl-caliber players, their return is crucial, but even more so because of the lean situation on the roster behind them. Chancellor’s replacement, Jeron Johnson, has looked fine in camp, as he has when he’s seen playing time last year. He can fill in at both free and strong. But the depth after Johnson is young and unproven.
When Okung returns to left tackle at full speed, it could strengthen the situation across the line. Alvin Bailey has been working with the first unit at left tackle, but Carroll said Monday that Okung’s return could free Bailey to enter the battle for the right tackle start. Bailey also has played guard, and even gotten time at tight end in the jumbo, short-yardage package. Bailey’s versatility could be crucial when they go to figure out the 46-man active roster come game time.
GM John Schneider has been unusually active with offensive line moves. Why not? It’s obvious that the No. 1 asset of this team is Russell Wilson. He was sacked more per pass attempt last season than anybody in the NFL. They added Cory Brandon off waivers and signed Wade Smith to have more proven manpower available. Brandon was getting a look at left tackle, and Smith was in at guard on Monday. Tom Cable likes to juggle positions to get a feel for what these guys can do, so we can’t make too many judgments off the first day.
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“We want to continue to make this position as competitive as possible,” Carroll said. “These guys, Wade in particular, bring a lot of experience and tremendous flexibility.”
An earlier signing of right tackle Eric Winston looked omniscient when rookie second-rounder Justin Britt dinged a shoulder in the mock game on Saturday, as Winston jumped in ably with the first unit. Britt returned on Monday, however, with no apparent lingering problems.
Smith was a Pro Bowl player just two seasons ago, and has played just about everywhere across the line. He’s 33, but, again, his versatility could be valuable.
--Fans are going to love what they see out of defensive tackle Kevin Williams. This guy is a real pro, and is the most decorated of the 2014 Seahawks with six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro honors on his resume. But there’s not an ounce of ego on this guy. Coach Travis Jones said that before he had a chance to even mention it, Williams had set about learning the responsibilities for every position from the nose through the 5-technique just so he could be more helpful to the team.
It’s his 12th training camp, but he looks lean and fit and is playing with a lot of energy. He’s only missed five games in 11 seasons. Carroll called him a fantastic leader with tremendous character.
Williams told me yesterday after practice that he’s always been happy as an under-the-radar player. “I just show up and make plays and they can give everybody else the accolades for all I care. I just love playing the game and I’m excited to do it here.”
--TJ Cotterill handled the news story about the return to action of Chancellor and Okung.
--ESPN.com’s Terry Blount has a blog post about the “message” sent by the waiving of Michael Bowie.