In terms of personnel choices, the Seahawks have always done better at bottom of the draft, especially among undrafted players. But the top end? It really hasn’t looked worse than this first week in training camp.
DT Malik McDowell (2017’s 35th pick), RT Germain Ifedi (No. 31 in 2016) and DE Frank Clark (63rd in 2015) all sat out Monday’s annual team scrimmage — the first 11-on-11, game-conditions practice, albeit no tackling — under dubious circumstances.
The news on McDowell was not good.
Answering questions, coach Pete Carroll said the rookie from Michigan State had “a serious accident” with multiple injuries including (at least) a concussion after an incident with an ATV near his hometown of Detroit. McDowell won’t be around for the regular season opener in about a month, maybe much longer.
He’s already back home resting after a couple of days in Seattle where team doctors examined him for the first time after the accident a few weeks earlier that went undisclosed until the opening of camp eight days ago.
“He’s going to need quite a while,” Carroll said, “We’ll have to wait it out. We’ll just have to see how he progresses. We’re not looking for him to get back for the first of the season.”
Carroll said the injuries were not career-threatening but didn’t know whether McDowell will play this season. He said he talked with McDowell and understood what happened, but was evasive on specifics, citing a request for privacy from the player’s family.
“He just turned 21,” Carroll said. “We’ve just got to wait on him. He’s a real young kid so he has plenty of time to get well. We have to make sure and take care.
“He can’t do anything as far as physical workouts. It’s frustrating for him. He feels fine. Certainly there’s a concussion involved . . .” but then Carroll declined to elaborate further.
The fact that doctors permitted McDowell to fly in a pressurized airliner cabin militates against a skull fracture, but Carroll was scant with details.
McDowell was seen as likely for significant minutes as a rookie because the Seahawks sought to replicate the D-line depth that was integral in the 2013 season that led to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.
Clark, another member of the D-line, was more fortunate. He will be back Wednesday or Thursday, according to Carroll, who called Clark’s four-day absence “coach’s discretion” after he punched out a helmet-less Ifedi during a practice melee Thursday.
Both were on the field Monday, Ifedi in shoulder pads and helmet, Clark without. But neither played, although Ifedi for first time since being struck in the face participated in pre-scrimmage individual drills.
In earlier practices, Clark showed up with a knee brace, but not Monday. Carroll said Clark has “a little knee thing he’s working on to make sure he’s OK. We know what’s going on. That was not really the issue.”
The knee injury didn’t occur during the fight, Carroll said. He also avoided using the word suspension, saying only that once Clark is back, “we’re moving on from here.”
In Ifedi’s temporary absence, right tackle has been filled by a rookie, second-round draft choice Ethan Pocic of Louisiana State. While the first real NFL contact awaits Sunday’s exhibition opener in Los Angeles against the Chargers, Pocic has a chance to make impressions at a spot that is less than guaranteed to Ifedi, who played right guard in his first year.
“It’s really good to get those reps,” said Pocic (6-6, 309). “I’m just trying to make the most out of them.”
If Pocic takes real advantage, the Seahawks could have a high pick in a position to contribute. What a novelty.
Backup QBs not doing much
While QB Russell Wilson continued his improved passing, completing 15 of 18 passes for two touchdowns in the Monday scrimmage, the backup candidates, incumbent Trevone Boykin and newcomer vet Austin Davis, both were erratic.
Boykin was six for 11 and one interception in three drives, while Davis was eight of 13 with a pick.
Afterward, Carroll was almost as evasive about the competition as he was about McDowell’s injuries.
“I think we are just in the middle of it, I don’t know — I say that when I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “Both guys have done some really good things. They are real different.
“We have to step back from it and get some games under our belt and (see) what it looks like when we are playing with Austin and with Trevone. They both have had days where they win the day and that kind of stuff. Russell is on fire right now, so it’s hard for them to catch him. But still they have been making plays. I’m really anxious to see how they looked today.”