Seattle Seahawks

Earl Thomas returning. Lamar Jackson running. But Seahawks must first make roster moves

They have Earl Thomas to welcome back.

They have record-pacing running quarterback Lamar Jackson to defend.

They have the NFL’s top-ranked offense, averaging more than 450 yards and 30 points per game, to control.

But before the Seahawks (5-1) have to play Thomas and his AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (4-2) on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, Seattle has to do some housecleaning.

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed rejoined the team Monday. His six-game suspension by the NFL for an alleged domestic-violence incident ended with Seattle’s win Sunday at Cleveland.

Guard Phil Haynes and fellow rookie draft choice Demarcus Christmas, a defensive tackle, are eligible to come onto the active roster this week. Both have been on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Veteran tight end Ed Dickson, a starter last season, is two weeks from being eligible to be one of the team’s two players designated to return off injured reserve.

But, of course, the NFL doesn’t just let you add players at will. The roster maximum is 53. Players come back; others must go.

So the Seahawks will need to make one move off the roster this week and perhaps, if Haynes and Christmas prove healthy and ready to contribute Sunday, three. When or if Dickson proves ready to return in two weeks, that would be a possible fourth move, to give him space on the roster.

The most likely move this week to activate Reed, who had a breakout 2018 with 10 1/2 sacks, is tight end Will Dissly going on injured reserve. Again.

Dissly sustained what coach Pete Carroll termed a “devastating” Achilles injury Sunday against the Browns on a non-contract move on grass. All signs are the Seahawks’ current leader with four touchdown catches will miss the rest of the season into next offseason.

It’s second season-ending injury in as many years in the NFL for Seattle’s 2018 draft choice from the University of Washington.

Beyond that, candidates to possibly be waived of cleared off the roster include deep reserve defensive back Akeem King and Gary Jennings, a rookie fourth-round pick and mothballed wide receiver.

Reed, the team’s second-round pick in 2016, should help a Seahawks 2019 pass rush that has produced just 10 sacks, 26th-most in the 32-team league, and 15 quarterback hits through six games.

“It’s great to have J. Reed come back to us. He’s like a little kid at Christmas time,” Carroll said Monday. “He’s so excited to be back with his teammates and be back with us. It seemed like it went kind of fast to us, but it didn’t for him. I asked him specifically that—seemed like it took forever.

“He’s been such an integral part of our club. It’s great to have him back in the locker room. His play is exceptional, too.”

Reed was completely away from the team from Sept. 2 until Monday. He was not permitted to work out at Seahawks headquarters. So coaches will learn beginning in practice Wednesday if Reed is in shape enough to play Sunday.

Carroll says initial signs are he will be.

“I don’t know what to tell you about how it’s going to go,” the coach said. “I haven’t seen him on the field yet. I know he worked really hard, from everything he said, to stay abreast with his conditioning and all of that. He looks strong, and we’ll just have to wait and see how he handles it.

“We haven’t seen him at all. This is the first day we’ve seen him in a month and a half. ...I know he worked diligently from what he said and he’s routine.

“We’re expecting that he’ll be able to help us this week. I don’t know how much.”

Haynes had surgery to repair a sports hernia after Seattle drafted him in the fourth round out of Wake Forest in April. The Seahawks expect him to be a rugged, plowing guard like starters D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati are.

Christmas is the team’s sixth-round pick from Florida State. He went on the PUP list at the start of training camp because of a back injury.

“Both those guys really worked out together in rehab, and both those guys have been prepared to come back much sooner than this deadline,” Carroll said of the six weeks for the PUP list. “They’re in good shape, but again, they haven’t with us at all. So, we don’t know.”

The Seahawks also don’t know yet about the starting offensive linemen they played without in Cleveland: Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown and Fluker. Carroll said Brown in the win Oct. 3 over the Rams re-injured his biceps and that he had been playing through pain for weeks. The Seahawks expected last week, when it became apparent Brown would miss the Cleveland game, that he would miss two games. So it may be more likely Brown next plays Oct. 27 at Atlanta.

That would mean George Fant would start at left tackle against the Ravens, as he did for Brown last weekend.

Carroll said Fluker “is day-to-day.”

Fluker, 28, hasn’t played a full season since 2016 with the Chargers.

The Seahawks expect to get No. 2 running back Rashaad Penny back this week from a hamstring injury that’s kept him out of three of the last four games.

“I think he’ll be going full speed Wednesday,” Carroll said.

First-round pick L.J. Collier and second-rounder Marquise Blair have been healthy inactives for five games between them already this season, though both played limited snaps against the Browns last weekend. Jennings, a fourth-round pick, has been inactive for every game this season. Seventh-round pick John Ursua has been inactive for five of the six games.

So six of Seattle’s 11 draft choices from the spring have not contributed or barely have so far this season.

Carroll said Blair, known as a hard-hitting safety at the University of Utah last season, is earning more time like the one drive he got at safety replacing starter Tedric Thompson in Cleveland. Blair impressed coaches and everyone else in the first preseason game. Then he missed most of the rest of August with back and hip-pointer injuries.

“Just go back and look at his plays he had in preseason. He had some special plays, special hits, covered a bunch of ground, made plays on the ball, made plays on receivers,” Carroll said. “He had a couple great open-field tackles; I remember one down by the goal line that was beautiful, perfect hawk tackle. He’s done a lot of good stuff. He just hasn’t been out there enough to establish how far along he’s come and all that.

“He made a couple mistakes too, a couple big mistakes in that time which was pretty typical. With all the practice time that he’s been gaining and knowing that he’s got all this potential, that’s why we drafted him where we drafted him. We’re looking forward to him being a factor. But he’s got to show it. He’s got to prove it, and that’s what the competition is all about.”

Speaking of: Thompson watched two defensive series against Cleveland from the sideline; Lano Hill played for him for a Browns possession right before Blair did in the first half.

Thompson responded with a diving interception in the end zone on a Baker Mayfield pass Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin leaped to deflect.

“He played pretty good,” Carroll said of Thompson in Cleveland, with a grin.

“Competition is a beautiful thing.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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