No. 2 running back Robert Turbin came out of Saturday’s exhibition-game win at San Diego with what coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday is a “significant” high-ankle sprain. His unknown timetable for returning to the Seahawks’ backfield is coinciding with the visit by free agent running back Fred Jackson.
“That’s why you see we made a little move earlier to bring Fred in,” Carroll said of the MRI results on Turbin’s ankle.
Carroll confirmed Jackson’s visit following today’s indoor practice before Thursday’s preseason finale against Oakland. The coach put the brakes on the rampant speculation Seattle already has a deal with the 34-year old who is a good friend with the former Bills teammate and man he replaced as Buffalo’s lead rusher in 2010, Seahawks’ top runner Marshawn Lynch. The Bills released Jackson Monday because they acquired LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia this offseason to be their new lead runner.
“This is a visit for us. This is not a signing. This is a visit for us with Freddy,” Carroll said. “We have tremendous respect for this player. He’s got obviously a wealth of background. He’s tough. He’s smart. He’s sharp. So we need to see where he is right now, 34 years old, and see what he looks like. He’s got a big physical coming up today, and we’ll talk to him later.
“But for those of you who have already made the decision about what’s going on: We have not made that decision at all at this point. But we love that he’s here, and we are just trying to get our ducks in a row for what may be necessary later on.”
I asked Carroll how much Lynch regarding Jackson as something of a big brother with whom he still texts regularly is a factor in Seattle’s interest in Jackson, perhaps part of the Seahawks trying to make Lynch as comfortable and happy as possible for this season after guaranteeing him $12 million for 2015 in March’s two-year contract extension.
“Only in that I know that Marshawn and he are very good friends and get along. And that’s always a good thing,” Carroll said. “But other than that, that didn’t feed into this. He’s just a heck of a football player that might be able to find a role. Depends on how things are going. We’ve got to check and see how we are doing with our injuries and stuff.”
As for where’s Jackson’s visit and physical might leave current No. 3 back Christine Michael on a 53-man regular-season roster that doesn’t figure to carry four tailbacks when Seattle sets it by 1 p.m. Saturday, Carroll made it sound like Jackson is more insurance against Turbin possibly being out a while with that sprained ankle.
“He’s very explosive. He reported in great shape. That’s allowed him to take advantage of really being ready every day,” Carroll said of Seattle’s oft-criticized, second-round draft choice in 2013. “He’s worked really hard. He’s had a very, very good camp. He showed you a play last week when he broke out and went back door on a power play (for 27 yards bouncing a run around left end to the San Diego 2-yard line), you know that cut doesn’t happen that much in football. It’s rare that a guy sees that, and he took advantage of it and made it a big play for us and set us up in the red zone.
“He will also take some chances. You saw him take some chances to get out of trouble and sometimes it hurts him a little bit. He’s an explosive football player that has the potential to make things happen.”
Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have said over the last year they need to be able to trust Michael more. Has he earned their trust now?
“I think throughout the whole couple years he has, yes. He has grown with us,” Carroll said. “He continues to be a guy that we care a lot about. (We) continue to try to utilize him at his very best. So we will continue doing that.”
Doesn’t sound like a guy Carroll is about to cut by Saturday.
Through all of that – plus line coach Tom Cable all but declaring he has settled on his starting five blockers with left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Justin Britt, center Drew Nowak, right guard J.R. Sweezy and right tackle Garry Gilliam – almost overshadowed what will likely prove to be today’s most important development for Seattle’s regular season. Earl Thomas was practicing today without a red, no-contact jersey for the first time since the All-Pro free safety had shoulder surgery Feb. 24, and he is ready to start the opener Sept. 13 at St. Louis.
I asked Carroll if there was any need for Thomas to play in what truly is a throwaway, final preseason game for starters Thursday.
“No, he won’t play in this game. This is really his first really full – you see he didn’t have the red jersey on today. He’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “So he’ll come back next week. He’ll have to play without the (preseason) game behind him, but he’s worked so hard. He looks really fast. He’s running great and really well. I think he’s going to be ready to go – as ready as we can get him at this point.”
▪ Gilliam played the entire third exhibition game at San Diego by Cable’s design, and came out of it having turned his ankle. The team doesn’t believe it’s serious, but it does underline the fact that for all his preseason-game struggles Alvin Bailey is likely to again make the team as the sixth lineman, a “swing” guy able to fill in as need arises at guard, tackle or perhaps even center.
▪ WR Chris Matthews practiced for the first time since he sprained his shoulder Aug. 14 in the exhibition opener. That makes Matthews likely to play against the Raiders Thursday. He needs to. He is one of eight wide receivers playing for what may be seven or even six roster spots at wide receiver.
▪ Reserve OLB Mike Morgan has a pulled hamstring. Carroll wasn’t specific on how long he’ll be out, but that’s not a good thing to have four days before final cuts.