Paul Richardson may go from learning how to walk again and in a wheelchair while his teammates were in Arizona for the Super Bowl following another knee reconstruction in January to playing wide receiver for the Seahawks Sunday at Dallas.
Pete Carroll likes what Richard Sherman shadowing top receivers instead of staying on his usual, left-cornerback spot gives the defense, so the All-Pro may be matched up against Dez Bryant in the Cowboys game.
Patrick Lewis should be recovered enough from an ankle injury to start at center against Dallas, meaning the Seahawks have a decision to make on whether to keep three centers on the roster.
Those are the highlights of what we learned at practice and with Carroll following it Monday at team headquarters here in Renton.
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Seahawks doctors cleared Richardson to practice after he’d spent the first seven weeks of the regular season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He can practice for up to 21 days while technically remaining on the PUP list before the team must either add him to the active roster or put him on injured reserve.
Carroll has been saying for weeks that Richardson was full speed and ready to go, but PUP rules wouldn’t allow him to practice until last week. When I asked the coach Monday if it was unrealistic to think the speedy, 2014 second-round draft choice could play Sunday at Dallas, Carroll said: “No, I don’t think it’s unrealistic, because of the workouts he’s been through.
“He looked lightning fast (Monday). You know, he’s got the fresh legs. And he’s already really fast. ... He’s been top speed for some time.”
Richardson was gaining quarterback Russell Wilson’s trust late last season, with 15 of his 29 catches last regular season coming in the final four games. After he had a 21-yard catch in the divisional-playoff game against Carolina Jan. 10 Wilson was throwing deep to him again when the rookie felt a pop in the same knee he had reconstructed prior to his final season at Colorado.
Richardson said he’s been timed recently and that he is actually faster than he was before this second torn ACL -- which was darn fast. He and 2015 rookie Tyler Lockett give Seattle faster receivers than they’ve had in years.
Lewis’ return will be after he missed Thursday’s win at San Francisco. Drew Nowak returned to starting against the 49ers; the former college defensive tackle had started the first five games at center before Lewis replaced him two games ago against Carolina. The Seahawks signed veteran backup Lemuel Jeanpierre last week as insurance at a time when Lewis was still in a walking boot. I asked Carroll twice whether he will keep three centers, and he didn’t want to answer either attempt.
“We’ll see,” is what he said on that.
Sherman shadowed the 49ers’ top deep receiver Torry Smith last week at San Francisco. Smith finished with zero catches and just one target as San Francisco gained just 142 yards.
The Seahawks have loosened the anchor that tied him to the left side as cornerback in recent years. In Week Two at Green Bay he played as the nickel defensive back inside against Packers’ top third-down target Randall Cobb. He shadowed A.J. Green in Cincinnati after Green had a big first quarter against Cary Williams, Seattle’s other cornerback.
Carroll said the Seahawks are planning and practicing this week as if Dez Bryant will return for Dallas. He hasn’t played since injuring his foot in the Cowboys’ opener, and reports around Dallas have said there is about a 50-50 chance he’ll play against the Seahawks. If he does, expect Sherman to shadow him in a faceoff of stars as Williams continues to at times struggle in coverage with the new-to-him techniques and footwork the Seahawks demand.
▪ Here’s all that Carroll had to say Monday:
What's up with today? “Yeah, Bonus Monday, get us back with a few days off. We want to make sure we get a good run in today before we get ready for Wednesday's practice and leave all of those days out there. We had a good work today. We started a little bit on the Dallas game and cleaned up some stuff from the ballgame and hopefully going to make good use of it.”
How awesome are Thursday games? “No, I think it's a real positive once you get through it. Like I said last week, our guys really took to the whole preparation out of it and jumped into it and did a very nice job. So, to get the win and the benefit of the weekend also, that's good for us. As long as we get back to football and get it right. So Wednesday's practice will be really important, getting back into high gear.”
What did you think of the SF game? “I thought it was a good game in the sense we played off of one another well. The defense played a really solid football game. Offense ran the ball really well, and we just kind of fit together. Special teams fit in alright, and there was just a good, solid game on the road. We thought we played real hard and tough throughout. The game wound up -- we had the ball a lot in the fourth quarter, which is great, almost 11 1/2 minutes or something like that, defense didn't give up a first down. The kinds of things we like seeing at the end of the game. So there were some good things there, too. And we came out pretty healthy, and we'll be stronger going into this weekend.”
Richardson return to practice today? “He did. First time out, and he looked lightning fast. He's got the fresh legs and he's already really fast. He looked good getting started today.”
Reasonable expectations for Richardson? “You know, I'm just going one day at a time and just see how he does. The guys have been raving about him in the training workouts. He's been at top speed for some time now. They've worked him really hard, so they think he's going to be able to withstand the practice mode. Just got to see how he takes to it and see where he is. He's really anxious to contribute and play right now. Would love to help, but we'll just go at it making sure that we don't overdo it for him right now. That's the main thing."
Unrealistic he could play this week? "I don't think it's unrealistic. Because of the workouts they've taken him through that's a chance of that, and we'll just see what that means. I don't know. I'm not going to hold out hope for it. You know, we're just going to go one day at a time, see what happens."
Jeremy Lane’s status? “He's a couple weeks back. I think what we're aiming for is the week after the bye, try to practice him and start it up with him. He's close and he really wants to go. He's anxious, and the trainers just want to make sure that they do everything they can to get him as ready as possible. At this time, after you've waited this long, it's good to I think exercise caution here and make sure that we don't go too quickly.”
What about three centers if Lewis returns this week, now that you signed Jeanpierre? "The purpose of bringing him back was so that we would have, not knowing what the length of the injury would be, just securing that position."
Nickel defensive back and cornerback Marcus Burley to practice this week after surgery for broken thumb a couple weeks ago? "Yes. He will. He's got a little cast on there. He'll be ready to play, we think. Again, we'll see how he does during the week and figure out what that means, but he practiced last week and looked good and stayed out of trouble with it. It's amazing. He had a pretty sophisticated surgery and is back already, so we're thrilled about that. He looks good and doesn't seem to be bothered by it at all."
How did Nowak do against the 49ers: "He played solid. He did a nice job in the running game. We had a couple things that got through us in protection but all-in-all he played a good solid game against a really good player. Ian Williams is a really good player. He held up against it and we ran the ball well. We'll get to Wednesday and see where we are. We don't have any plan for that yet. We'll see where he is, where Patrick is and take it one day at a time."
Another try about three centers on the roster... “We don't get second chances at questions. First chance only. Next. We'll see."
RB Thomas Rawls’ injury status: “He's got a contusion on his calf that a couple extra days will help him. He has a chance to be ready for the week. We'll have to wait and see again. He'll probably be Thursday before we can try it.”
Fullback Derrick Coleman’s status: “Derrick Coleman's back. Back and ready to go.”
DE Frank Clark’s injury status: “He's fine."
DL Demarcus Dobbs: “He's got a chance to come back here Wednesday, Thursday also. You can see there's a number of guys that will be battling to get back out there. Would be great to see if we can pull that together. It will make the practice field much more competitive. We'll see what that means for game day. I don't know yet."
DT Jordan Hill? "Yep. He should practice Wednesday."
How has K.J. Wright played at outside LB this season? “I think he’s played terrific. He’s having a great season, probably his best season just in general. Just the most consistent he’s been. He jumped in at MIKE (middle LB) one week. He’s just done a great job.
What’s impressed about KJ most this year than years past? “I think his drops are really consistent. He’s doing some sophisticated things in the pass game that he’s learned over the years reading things well and doing some cool things for us to help us out. Very consistent. Really has a nose for the ball and all the special plays that happen and the things that take time to recognize he’s on it. He’s a terrific pro.
Jeremy Lane, arm or knee keeping him a couple weeks from returning? “We’ll still making sure his knee is ready to go now. We want to make sure that’s right.”
Run game individual efforts on the O-line: “Russell Okung came off the ball well and did a nice job. And I thought for the time that Garry Gilliam was out there _ he went into the week a little hobbled and he made it back to game time _ did a nice job too.”
Is RT Garry Gilliam back 100 percent from his ankle injury? “Absolutely. He’s ahead now. He made it through.”
Assessment of Russell Wilson’s throwing at SF? “With the exception of the turnovers I thought we did a nice job. We were able to hit some big plays. We had 10 explosive plays in the game, that’s a big number again. We love being in the double digits there and he was able ot pull that off. The third downs were really close. We needed a couple of more there to get over the hump. We’re always trying to get to 50 percent and we were close to it. I think he did fine. He moved around well and did a nice job for us.”
What was your message to Russell Wilson after his second interception? “It was kind of a short message. I didn’t like that play at all. I was really disappointed in that because I thought, just the looks of it, I would like him to not make that throw. But I would say – I think I said it the other night – Russell is always been one to challenge the receivers and throw the ball up and give them a shot, particularly when it’s that far down the field, counting on our guys to make a play. That was just one where the DB was too far out ahead of us and we just didn’t get a chance to even challenge for it.”
Did the situation make that INT worse? “No, I don’t it’s ever alright to give them the football. That’s all. And I felt like we kinda gave them one.”
Were you finally starting to see what Richardson could do when he tore his ACL? “Yeah, if you guys remember, Paul was really starting to come on late in the year. He was catching a lot of passes in kind of intricate route things that we were doing with him, advanced stuff, timing things that we were really counting on him and he was getting in and out of his breaks beautifully. We really started to go to him late in the season. It was a great sign, and it was unfortunate that he got banged up. I don’t know where we’re going to pick up from there. I don’t know that. We’re just going to wait and see. This is really the first hour on the field we’ve had all year. But we’re hopeful that he’ll be a real big factor for us when we can get him back in there, and we’ll just fit him in.
Is Tarvaris Jackson OK? Missed practice Monday: “Yeah, his girl is having a baby today.”
What did the team see in DE Cliff Avril before signing him from Detroit in 2013? “There was nothing that we didn’t like. He was strong and aggressive, he had forced a lot of turnovers, a lot of fumbles, he had a real consistent motor about him, big, strong kid. He had all the good stuff that you’re looking for. As we learned, he’s a great teammate, a great kid on a team, too. He’s very consistent and always does his job. He’s playing great right now and he’s causing more problems than just about anybody. He and Michael are really tearing it up, and it’s exciting to see those guys feeding off one another because they were fighting for sacks last week, and it was cool that they were both involved so much. There’s just nothing but positives about Cliff. He’s been a terrific Seahawk.”
How does Sherman playing all over the place help the defense as a whole? “You want a different answer than the other night? OK, so my answer is: Because he’s experienced now and he has the flexibility and the awareness to be able to move around. We did things with him in the nickel package that allows him to be inside, which the more that he can do that the more you can allow guys to match up because they can get caught inside on different formations and things like that. He loves the challenge of it. He has a great mentality about it, which is a big part of it. He had a terrific game against their guy last week. I think it’s experience, it’s his great awareness and really his belief in his own ability to match those kinds of things up and take to those challenges in a special way.”
First drive against 49ers was impressive in terms of the run. Did you want Marshawn to carry nine times? “I would have pushed for 10 but we were so close that we had to get in or not. It’s always cool to run the football like that and to be able to go to it. We kind of scored a couple times down there we thought. I thought the calls were alright down there; I think his knee did touch on the one before. It was just a good opportunity to just hammer the football and make the guys block at the line of scrimmage and get after it. The Niners knew we were coming, everybody knew where we were going, and we didn’t care. We wanted to see what would happen so we just banged it out. I think we scored on third down didn’t we? We might have even had a chance on fourth down again. I thought it was good football. It was good ball. We really liked it, and we finished the drive off well. Almost seven minutes. All of that stuff is great stuff. It was a good start.”
Will Tukuafu: ““He’s been great. I’m so excited about Will. I just think it’s the coolest story that he’s playing both ways and that he can do that. He’s playing fullback and tight end and moving him around and he’s on special teams and he’ll play defensive tackle in a heartbeat when we need him. And he never bats an eye. He just keeps doing it. He has a great attitude about it. The more the better for him. He’s a fantastic competitor. I love the story. I just wished more people realized how unique he is in being able to do all that.”
When’s the last time you coached a player who did that much? “I haven’t had anybody that has been so readily able to move back and forth. I had some guys who flipped one year to the next but he can go from series to series and play offense and defense and doesn’t even effect him. I don’t think I’ve had anybody who’s that unique.”
Do you game plan if Dez Bryant is back? “We certainly will. I have no idea what’s going to happen with that, but we kind of always go that way. If a guy has a chance to play, we’re going to think he’s going to play.”