DC Kris Richard on the returns of Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead
RENTON Two more signs the Seahawks are becoming more whole again.
Three-time All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and starting center Justin Britt practiced fully for the second consecutive day on Thursday, increasing the likelihood both will start Sunday night when Seattle (7-3-1) hosts Carolina (4-7) at CenturyLink Field.
Thomas and Britt missed last weekend’s 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay. It was the first missed game this season for Britt, the offensive line’s most consistent player this season. And it was the first time Thomas was sidelined in his seven-season, 119-game career. He watched last Sunday’s game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Portland.
I wouldn’t read too much into Bennett being limited in Thursday’s closed-to-the-media practice one day after he practiced fully for the first time since arthroscopic knee surgery that has sidelined him the last five games. Teams must list as “limited” on their daily reports to the league any player who sits out any portion of a practice. So if Bennett took a drill off or a series off during team scrimmaging, for instance, that’s “limited.” All indications are the Pro Bowl defensive end remains on track to return Sunday night.
Including the indication following Thursday’s practice from Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard:
“Not only Michael Bennett,” Richard said of his returning starters to the defense this week from injuries, “but Earl Thomas, DeShawn Shead, Mike Morgan. You know, that’s how we started the season.”
Shead has been limited in each of the last two practices. He, like Thomas, missed last weekend’s loss with a strained hamstring. Coach Pete Carroll said on Monday Shead was ahead of Thomas in his recovery, but the last two practice reports haven’t suggested that.
Paul Richardson remained out of practice for the second day in a row. The oft-injured wide receiver was already dropping in stature for not coming back to Russell Wilson’s pass late in the first half after Richardson got knocked off his route by a Buccaneer. Wilson threw an interception, and Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said they and Wilson were expecting the receiver to, in so many words, do something else.
Troymaine Pope returned to full practice participation ahead of schedule. Carroll said this week the team’s leading rusher in the preseason was surprising the Seahawks’ medical staff with how quickly he is getting back from a high-ankle sprain.
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel, a key to Seattle’s run defense this week against Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton and one of the league’s better rushing offenses, was new to the practice report. He was sick.
CARROLL ON FORMER PLAYER JOE McKNIGHT’S DEATH
Former USC and NFL running back Joe McKnight, 28, was killed Thursday in his home state of Louisiana in what reportedly was a road-rage incident outside New Orleans.
Carroll recruited McKnight to USC and coached him with the Trojans through 2009. He issued this statement through his Twitter account Thursday: