Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks end offseason practices. What did they accomplish?

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, smiles as he watches Doug Baldwin run a drill on Thursday, the last practice before training camp starts in July.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, right, smiles as he watches Doug Baldwin run a drill on Thursday, the last practice before training camp starts in July. AP

Eddie Lacy playfully bent his knees and swayed his hips from side to side. He was dancing in place to the rap music blaring off the walls of the indoor practice facility.

Richard Sherman gave pointers to Shaquill Griffin. Then the three-time All-Pro and the rookie cornerback both took off their helmets and laughed.

Jimmy Graham – the star tight end paid handsomely to catch passes, not throw them – ended practice by nailing the goal post with a throw from about than half the field away.

Yes, Thursday’s final practice of minicamp had a noticeably giddy, last-day-of-school feel to it.

No wonder. The players are now off for their longest stretch until at least January: six weeks to go home or wherever, until training camp begins on the final weekend of July.

“Yeah, this is like the last day of school,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said following the afternoon practice in out of the rain. “These guys can’t wait to get out of here.”

The Seahawks didn’t just get sent off into their summer vacation to do whatever, although this year they get to start it sooner because the NFL took four practices away last fall because of too much contact in previous OTAs. Each position coach gave each player a detailed plan with strength and conditioning benchmarks to meet between now and training camp. That’s so guys don’t show up and pull hamstrings and groins or simply hurl during the first camp practices into August because they are out of shape.

So what did these Seahawks accomplish in their seven practices of organized team activities plus three practices of mandatory minicamp?

Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett are much healthier and closer to returning to full participation than they could have expected.

Thomas is already there. Six months and 11 days after he broke his tibia, the three-time All-Pro was full go again Thursday as the starting free safety.

Coach Pete Carroll says there is no doubt Thomas will be ready for the start of training camp.

“I will be ready for the first game,” Thomas said this week, estimating he’s 80 percent back to full health.

The offseason workouts gave all evidence he will indeed be starting on Sept. 10 at Green Bay.

Lockett’s prognosis is cloudier. The wide receiver and Pro Bowl kick returner broke his fibula and tibia three weeks after Thomas’ injury, on Christmas Eve. Unlike Thomas, Lockett had surgery. Carroll said Lockett is behind Thomas in his recovery, naturally. But Thursday’s was the third consecutive practice with Lockett running down the sidelines catching passes without an apparent limp or hesitation.

Yet Carroll said the team is unsure whether Lockett will be ready for the start of camp.

From what Lockett looked like in these offseason practices, he will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Carroll also mentioned as iffy at best to be fully participating at the start of training camp: cornerback DeShawn Shead (knee surgery in January), defensive end Dion Jordan (recent knee surgery), defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson (surgery from last season) and wide receiver Tanner McEvoy (toe surgery last month, which Carroll called a big “setback” for last season’s undrafted rookie surprise).

Asked if Shead might be ready for the season opener in three months, Carroll said: “No, I don’t think so,” before adding, “I should never say no to him.” He again praising Shead’s fiendish rehabilitation work to get back this far this fast.

The offensive line remains somewhat unsettled, but George Fant is taking steps to be the left tackle again.

For the second time in as many weeks Carroll raved about Fant’s transformation this offseason -- both physically (he’s gained 25 pounds since January thanks to Mom’s cooking), and football-wise.

“This is his first football offseason,” Carroll said.

As in, ever. Fant, of course, was an undrafted college basketball player this time last season.

The more the coaches talk, the more it sounds like Fant will be the starting left tackle entering the preseason, if not the real season.

That leaves Luke Joeckel versus Rees Odhiambo, the OTA and minicamp first teamer, at left guard. The Seahawks are paying Joeckel more than $7 million guaranteed on his one-year contract, so he’s going to start somewhere. The last three weeks Joeckel was the left guard then left tackle, in that order, during position drills. The team held him out of team scrimmaging. That was a precaution; he continues to recovery from season-ending knee surgery in October when the former second-overall draft choice was still with Jacksonville.

Joeckel started five games at left guard last season before the injury. He made the first 34 starts of his career from 2013-15 at left tackle for the Jaguars. Seahawks general manager John Schneider has said he like Joeckel’s play more at left guard when he was with Jacksonville.

“He’s absolutely ready to do both,” Carroll said of guard and tackle. “That’s a real plus for us.”

Carroll said rookie second-round pick Ethan Pocic proved the same thing. Pocic, a center at LSU, was the second-team right tackle in scrimmaging this week.

The rest of the line seems set: Justin Britt back at center after an impressive 2016 debut there; Mark Glowinski over offseason signee Oday Aboushi so far at right guard, after Glowinski started at left guard last season; and 2016 top draft choice Germain Ifedi at right tackle. Ifedi was the right guard his rookie year.

The right-cornerback job remains wide open.

The defense was mostly in nickel defense with five defensive backs during OTAs and minicamp. The inside nickel was Jeremy Lane again. The starting right cornerback in nickel was rookie third-round pick Griffin in OTAs, then veteran special-teams man Neiko Thorpe this week in minicamp.

When asked Thursday who may be the starting right cornerback for the start of the regular season, the first man Carroll mentioned was Lane. That would be in base defense. Seattle’s been in base with four defensive backs about 35-40 percent of the time the last couple seasons, so Griffin and Thorpe could be battling outside for what essential would be a starting job.

Defensive coordinator Kris Richard said Thursday Griffin has “one of the best corner minds we’ve had, for a young guy.”

Griffin has shown speed, awareness, and a 6 feet and nearly 200 pounds has the size and reach the Seahawks love in their press corners. But OTAs and minicamp rules prohibit defensive backs from making plays on passes in the air, the NFL’s way to minimize offseason contact. Richard said he is eager to see how Griffin looks when in training camp while making plays on the ball and getting physical with receivers.

Lacy is on track to share the lead running back role with Thomas Rawls.

Lacy has earned $110,000 in bonuses just by doing what his contract specified: weigh less than 255 pounds in May and 250 pounds this month. The former NFL offensive rookie of the year with the Green Bay Packers didn’t do any team scrimmaging following October ankle surgery. Bevell mentioned Thursday how eager Lacy was to get on the field for those periods. Bevell also mentioned, sounding almost surprised, how well the bullish runner catches passes.

But Rawls, coming off two injury-filled seasons, doesn’t sound like he’s in any mood to cede ground as the starter.

The offseason’s drama is in the team’s past. So says the team, anyway.

The final question to Carroll before the team broke for his summer break was what he thought of Sherman’s expansive press conference Wednesday, and how he felt the team dealt with an offseason that included an ESPN story of locker-room turmoil centered around Sherman versus Russell Wilson, the team hosting but not signing controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick plus the Seahawks’ oddly open talk about fielding trade offers for Sherman.

“I think the reference would be to some article that came out. Are we over that? Yeah,” Carroll said, scoffing. “Well over that. I don’t think that in any way dictated the offseason, or we would base our offseason accomplishment based on that; that had nothing to do with anything.

“I think he spoke very well to the points, and he answered your questions, and he did, really, an admirable job of making things clear to you guys. I think you should know where we stand now. If you didn’t and you are uncertain, you should know where we are coming from.

“Sherm and I in particular have had an incredibly profitable and beneficial offseason working together, getting ready. His mind is ready to go after it in a huge way for the season coming up.”

As long as they win this season, this issue will likely stay in the past.

As long as they win.

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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