Finally, good—potentially season-altering—news for the Seahawks regarding injuries.
Coach Pete Carroll said following Friday’s practice and before a flight to California for Saturday night’s third preseason game at the Los Angeles Chargers that top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah has a chance to practice for the first time with his new team next week.
In fact, he has his “sights set” on it, the coach said.
“I do think he has a chance to practice,” Carroll said of his 2015 Pro Bowl defensive end with Detroit who is coming off shoulder surgery that ended his 2018 season with the Lions.
Ansah’s shoulder is back to full strength, “fine,” Carroll said. This month he had a setback, straining his groin during heavy conditioning. Now Ansash is about through that, too.
“That’s the way we are talking,” Carroll said. “He’s progressed to the point where we think that’s possible. I think it’s really important, and I hope that we can put that together. If he has to do it (get ready for the regular season) in one weeks’ time, you know, we will. But we’d like to get two weeks (of practice before the opener Sept. 8) under his belt.
“You know, he’s been running every day. He’s been wearing his stuff, and all that. But he needs to get the drill work, and all that.”
Plus, Carroll said rookie reveiver DK Metcalf is going to be “active” next week, though the coach stopped short of saying he would practice. Carroll said Metcalf has no swelling in his right knee on which he had surgery Tuesday.
“He had no swelling, at all. He is really on track to really make a great recovery,” Carroll said. “He reported in incredible shape, so we don’t think he is going to lose much in two weeks. He’s really...he’ll be active next week, for sure, doing a lot of stuff. He’s making a great recovery.
“So we are going to keep our fingers crossed that he can make it back quickly.”
Those are two developments that make Ansah’s and Metcalf’s chances to play in the season opener Sept. 8 against Cincinnati far greater than they were before Friday, though Metcalf being ready for week one may still be a stretch of hope.
Par for the Seahawks’ preseason course, Carroll did have bad injury news: Wide receiver David Moore injured his shoulder in practice Thursday and is going to be out “a while.” Carroll said Moore will be out through the start of the season.
That puts in play a possible roster move, perhaps injured reserve for Moore, a seventh-round draft choice from 2017. Carroll said he would have more to say about Moore’s future in the coming days.
If the Seahawks need or want to put Moore on injured reserve, they are likely to keep him on their roster until after the Aug. 31 preseason cutdown day then do it. Players put on IR before that date are not eligible to be one of the two players each team can designate to return from IR following eight games each season. If a player goes on IR before Aug. 31, he’s out for the entire season.
Moore’s new situation also signals undrafted rookie Jazz Ferguson may continue to rise up the depth chart and join Metcalf in Seattle’s new, bigger wide-receiver unit for the start of the regular season.
It could also help the chances fourth-round draft choice Gary Jennings, who has been hurt this spring and summer then mostly invisible but for one big practice this preseason, is among the perhaps six wide receivers Seattle keeps after final preseason cuts. Those are due to the NFL Aug. 31. Saturday night’s preseason game is a big one for Jennings to assert himself.
Safety Marquise Blair missed his third consecutive practice on Friday. Turns out, the rookie second-round draft choice has a bruised back, not just back spasms, Carroll said.
“He’s still pretty sore,” the coach.
Blair hasn’t been on field since getting carted off it during the second half of the preseason game at Minnesota Sunday. That swings the door open for Lano Hill to push for starting strong safety job in these last days of the preseason.
Hill will play Saturday night at the Chargers for the first time since he cracked his hip in December.
Here’s why Ansah’s seemingly imminent return to practice is a big Seahawks deal: Seattle traded top sack man Frank Clark this spring because they decided to pay the almost $20 million per year Clark wanted in a new contract to All-Pro Bobby Wagner in a rich, new deal this summer instead. Then the NFL suspended Jarran Reed for the first six games of this season following an alleged domestic-violence incident. Reed was second to Clark on the Seahawks with 10 1/2 sacks in 2018.
Without Ansah on the field, the only player on Seattle’s 90-man preseason roster who has as many as five sacks in any league season is defensive end Cassius Marsh. He had 5 1/2 sacks for San Francisco last season. He’s been with the Seahawks, Patriots, 49ers and now Seahawks again since 2017.
That’s sub-optimal in this passer-and-sack-the-passer NFL.
“It’s important to us,” Carroll said of Ansah practicing as soon as possible in advance of the opener. “We are hoping to get that done. His sights are set on that, also. So, we’ll see how it works.”