The Seahawks are back on the field this week for three more days of organized training activities -- practices without pads, helmets or contact.
Thomas Rawls again will be joining Jimmy Graham on the recovery sideline during scrimmaging. Seattle’s new lead running back and its featured tight end are rehabilitating after season-ending injuries last December and November, respectively.
Coach Pete Carroll said last week Rawls (broken ankle, torn ligaments) was ahead of Graham (patellar-tendon knee surgery) in recovering.
This being June, there is ample down time for speculation and guessing, and that’s what some are doing with when Rawls and Graham will be back in games.
"I think we’ll ease into training camp for both guys, you know. Jimmy’s a little farther behind than Thomas,” Carroll said last week. “We won’t rush anything. We’ll use all six weeks in there and take advantage of it.”
That statement -- and the fact Carroll won’t commit to an estimate for his return to game speed -- has led to talk Rawls won’t have a carry in the upcoming preseason.
Carroll rarely had Marshawn Lynch run the ball in recent preseasons. Those games are, after all, exhibitions. When the now-retired Lynch carried twice and caught a pass on the opening drive of the third preseason game last August at San Diego after doing nothing the first two exhibition weeks, it was almost shocking.
Rawls, in his second season after going undrafted out of Central Michigan, is of course nowhere near as accomplished or worthy of VIP passes as Lynch. But the point is, the Seahawks know after Rawls’ breakout 2015 debut what they have in him. They don’t need to risk a setback to his recovery for tune-up runs in fake games. They drafted three running backs last month for depth and options behind Rawls, not because they didn’t think he’ll be able to run when the games get real in September.
What I’ll be watching at the OTA the media is permitted to cover on Wednesday:
▪ What the offensive line looks like this week. Presumed starting left tackle Garry Gilliam is recovering from surgery to remove a cyst in his knee. Supposed starting right tackle J’Marcus Webb was out last week with a pulled calf muscle that Carroll estimated would keep him out into next week, the third and final week of OTAs. Bradley Sowell was the first left tackle last week, with 2014 draft pick Terry Poole at right tackle. I’ll also be watching to see if Justin Britt, the 2014 right tackle as a rookie and 2015 left guard, is still getting most of the first-team snaps at center.
▪ How the Seahawks are using Brandon Browner in scrimmaging. He was all over last week: near the line as a run-stopping safety, back deep as a center fielder, outside in press coverage and in the slot in matchups. The physical Browner is going to be a situational matchup specialist this coming season if he proves now and in training camp he still has those specialized skills he had two seasons ago being used similarly by New England. Browner’s non-guaranteed contract for the veteran-minimum salary means the Seahawks have no risk to use these OTAs, this month’s mandatory minicamp and then training camp to assess whether he’s past his slower, grabbing ways in 2015 as a New Orleans Saint.
▪ Which undrafted rookies are emerging. There are always a few that make gains in May and June on their way to making this team’s regular-season roster out of training camp. Trevone Boykin is an obvious one because he is currently the No. 2 behind Russell Wilson in a shallow quarterback pool. But Montese Overton from East Carolina has an opportunity to seize a situational pass-rush role as a defensive end. Former college basketball player George Fant, who didn’t seriously start football until last spring, has been a tight end and left tackle in early OTAs. Steve Longa, a middle linebacker at Rutgers, has a chance for a backup spot at that position as well as an opportunity to impress on special teams. Former college defensive tackles Taniela Tupou (from Washington) and Brandin Bryant (Florida Atlantic) now have fullback numbers (45 and 46) and are a combined 573 pounds as candidates to replace unsigned Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu as Seattle’s fullback. And so on.
▪ Who’s got the best bucket hat. Richard Sherman usually leads in this all-important OTA category. But last week’s crop was uncharacteristically subpar. That could be because of the cool, cloudy weather then. Today’s warm sun should amp up the bucket-hat game.
▪ And more, all day here on the blog. The players are scheduled to practice from 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.