Apparently, Zach Miller is a persuasive guy.
Earlier this week, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said his starting tight end likely would sit out the entire preseason to make sure he was ready to play against Carolina in the season opener.
Miller recently was activated of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, and has looked good in practice coming off a foot issue. Miller wanted to play on Thursday against his old team, the Oakland Raiders, and apparently will get his wish.
“He’s going to get into the game, and he’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “It surprised us that he jumped back so well.”
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So what caused Carroll to have the change of heart?
“He just looked so good,” Carroll said. “He’s ready. And there’s no reason not to. He’s full go.”
Carroll announcement that Miller will play was part of a meaty, news-filled interview after today’s walk-through practice that lasted nearly 20 minutes.
Along with Miller, offensive lineman James Carpenter will play for the first time this preseason, after nursing a foot injury most of training camp.
“We’re looking forward to him playing,” Pete said. “It’s necessary for him to get out there and play again. He’s really making some progress. He missed a couple weeks here, so it will be great to have him out.
Carroll said that fullback Michael Robinson, out for over a week with a virus, will not play against Oakland, and could be a scratch for the season opener.
“He’s dealing with some intricacies about the illness he has,” Carroll said. “It’s going to take us a little time before we get him back out here. Hopefully he may be ready in a couple weeks.”
With Robinson out, Derrick Coleman will be the first man up at fullback, followed by rookie Spencer Ware. Phil Bates will work mostly at receiver on Thursday, Carroll said.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett also will miss the Oakland game to go have a procedure performed on his toe, but should be ready to go next week.
Defensive lineman Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel will not play because of ailing groin injuries. Clinton McDonald will start for Mebane, but Carroll was not clear who would start at 3-tech for McDaniel.
Carroll said whether Mebane and McDaniel are available for the Carolina game will depend on how they respond to treatment and practice time next week.
According to Carroll, rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill is responding well to treatment for a strained bicep, and could be back sooner than expected.
“We thought originally it was going to be something that might really cost him,” Carroll said. “But we’ll find out where he is next week, and take it from there. We don’t know yet, but he is responding well. He’s feeling good. He doesn’t have any pain or discomfort, so there’s a chance he may get back here sooner than we thought originally.”
Sidney Rice (knee) will not play against Oakland, but is expected to be ready for the Carolina game, unless he suffers a setback in practice during game week.
Defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring) also will not play against the Raiders, but is hopeful to play against Carolina.
Carroll said DeShawn Shead, Jermaine Kearse and Bryan Walters all will get an opportunity to return kicks on Thursday. And Walter Thurmond will get the bulk of the punt returns early in the game.
Carroll also talked about the tough decisions ahead, with the cut down date for the final 53-man roster on Saturday. This year’s cuts will be much more difficult for the organization than when Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived over three years ago.
“It’s a much different time for us,” Carroll said. “John was madly scouring everybody else’s list to fill up our roster at that time. We’re still doing that, and will compete like crazy at that. But it’s not going to apply nearly as much.
“We know guys on our team are going to go to other teams and play. We know that, and we’re proud of that. Sometimes you can’t tell. We have to make a decision now, and maybe that guy a month from now is a better player than the guy (you keep) – that’s how close it is in some situations. In some situations you just don’t want to let the guy go. And we have guys we just don’t want to cut, but we’re going to have to make those choices.”