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A day after the Seahawks dropped their season opener at Denver, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made his usual appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle to discuss a game in which the Seahawks “missed an opportunity.”

“We had a great opportunity,” Carroll said. “We made the plays to get us ahead with a great touchdown pass to (Tyler Lockett), and we just needed to hold it, and we didn’t do it.”

Here are six takeaways from Carroll’s weekly appearance on the Brock and Salk Show:

1. Big plays were a killer.

The Seahawks defense played well in spurts, particularly in the second half, but when asked his single biggest takeaway from the loss, Carroll quickly pointed to the big plays Seattle gave up, which included two long touchdown passes.

“We didn’t play good enough football,” Carroll said. “I say that because we had two enormous plays on defense that changed the game, we busted both of them. They were just busts. Sometimes you survive those kinds of plays and get onto the next, but for them to throw a flat route for a touchdown, and then they throw a crossing route for a touchdown and it’s a gimme, that’s too much in that game. Make them earn their way down the field, maybe they kick field goals instead and it’s a totally different outcome. It’s our inability to just be really clean throughout the game. We showed some newness, and unfortunately it got us.”

2. Russell Wilson “got hammered,” but also can be better.
When asked to assess the play of his quarterback, Pete Carroll noted that Russell Wilson was under pressure quite a bit, though the quarterback himself acknowledged that a few of the six sacks he took were his fault.

“He got rushed,” Carroll said. “He got hammered, we got sacked six times in the game. He was in the midst of some of those, he bailed a couple of times and got in trouble, but we didn’t protect him as well as we needed to throughout… Unfortunately we didn’t protect him enough to have a really clean game.
“I think it was a hard game. Right off the bat we got hammered. He got hit a couple times in this game, it makes a difference. Every quarterback who has ever played feels that stuff, so you have to get around it. I thought he bounced back when he could, we didn’t quite it done—what really shows up is the third-down numbers, 2 out of 12, you’re not going to get it done. There were too many third-and-longs. That’s enough to wreck your day if you don’t overcome it. We weren’t as clean as we needed to be. He could play way better, he could have gotten us out of some issues early by getting rid of the football a couple of times… Russ needed to do better than he did yesterday, but we needed to help him a lot.”
3. The Seahawks didn’t run the ball enough.
In part because of the aforementioned third-down issues, the Seahawks didn’t get their running game going as much as they would have liked, particularly early, because the offense didn’t stay on the field long enough. The Seahawks finished the game with just 14 rushing attempts by running backs, seven each for Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.

“We didn’t do it enough,” Carroll said. “That goes back to, we didn’t convert on third down, so then you’re off the field so you don’t get to use the ready list you have. We didn’t get through it, we ran the ball six times in the first half. How many plays did we have, 15 plays in the first half? That’s not enough to figure it out.”
That being said, Carroll still saw some things in those limited opportunities that leave him encouraged about the running game going forward.

“The angle block stuff happened again, we hit the trap, we hit a nice wham play,” Carroll said. “We did some nice stuff, there’s some things there for us that are going to be good, we’ve just got to get to them, we didn’t have the opportunity to access them.”

With another elite pass rusher coming up next week, the Seahawks know they need to run the ball better and more often to keep Khalil Mack from being too disruptive.

“It has to happen,” Carroll said. “It has to happen. We need to do that. You can’t get sacked when you’re running it.”

 

4. “Everybody should be really excited about” Brandon Marshall.
Brandon Marshall made his Seahawks debut a memorable one by recording his first touchdown catch since 2016, a 20-yarder in the third quarter that was also Seattle’s first third-down conversion of the afternoon. What excited Carroll most about Marshall, who had three catches for 46 yards, is that the veteran pass-catcher is just getting going with Wilson and Seattle’s offense.

“He played great,” Carroll said. “He really practiced beautifully through the last couple of weeks, really finally got into shape and looked good and felt confident in his breaks and his cuts and his catches and all that. He’ll improve a lot with Russ. There’s a chemistry here that can go to a real high level. They’re working at it and communicating well, but it’ll get better. Russ knows that he’s open, he knows he can make the catches, he’s looking at him with the thought that he can make some stuff happen. We went right to him in the red zone. Unfortunately we get the (offensive pass interference) penalty on the first one, he should have had two touchdown catches on the day. I think everybody should be really excited about this. I know we are.”
5. Earl Thomas’ return was handled well on all sides.

Earl Thomas returned to the team last Wednesday after a holdout that covered all of training camp and the preseason, and not only did Thomas play well on the field, recording five tackles and an interception that set up a touchdown, he and the rest of the team also impressed Carroll with the way everyone responded to Thomas’ return.

“What was really exciting to see is just how it all came down,” Carroll said. “The way Earl handled it, the way the players handled it. Our guys in here really dealt with it just right, and Earl was embraced. Everybody made him feel comfortable. We realized that he might be the most uncomfortable guy in the place, just not knowing how he would be received, and our guys couldn’t have done it better really.”

6. Injury updates.
Receiver Doug Baldwin left the game with what Carroll said was an MCL sprain, and as of Monday morning there were no new specifics for Carroll to report.

“I haven’t heard back,” Carroll said. “He was sore last night, but he was walking OK and all that, he wasn’t hampered in that regard. He got hurt. There isn’t anybody tougher than him, and if he can come back he’ll come back. That’s why he went back in the game, and they were trying to talk him out of it to get him out of there.”
Linebacker K.J. Wright, who missed Sunday’s game while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, will run hard on Monday, but Carroll made it sound like it’s unlikely Wright will be back for Monday night’s game at Chicago.

“K.J. is running today for the first time really hard, so we’ll find out,” Carroll said. “It would be a miraculous return if he makes it back this week.”

Carroll doesn’t yet know if D.J. Fluker will get back from a hamstring injury, but if he has to miss a second straight game, the Seahawks feel confident with J.R. Sweezy at right guard.

“D.J., we’ve got to make sure we don’t take him too far too fast, we’ve got make sure he gets through,” Carroll said. “And Sweez did a good job in there for him, so we’re OK there if we’ve got to hold him another week.”

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The Seahawks’ veterans are taking the next step in offseason workouts in this spring’s walk-up to summer training camp.

Earl Thomas is not in step with them.

Seattle began the first of three weeks of organized team activities (OTAs) Monday at team headquarters in Renton. The Seahawks also will be on the practice field for no-pads workouts Tuesday and Thursday this week, May 29-30 and June 1 next week and June 4-7. It’s the third of four offseason phases before training camp begins July 26. The fourth phase is the mandatory veteran minicamp June 12-14.

That may be the only part that entices Thomas to show up.

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The three-time All-Pro safety wasn’t at the start of OTAs on Monday, as expected. He hasn’t been at any team workout since last season ended on New Year’s Eve.

Why? Because these practices and meetings are still voluntary, per the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Coaches, of course, have a different view of “voluntary” this time of year—call it “strongly encouraged.” But the letter of the NFL contract law remains the same.
“Veterans sometimes look at those rules and they see ‘voluntary,’ and they see it differently than other guys,” coach Pete Carroll said when I asked him about Thomas two weeks ago, at the end of the team’s minicamp for rookies.

“So, we’ll see.”

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3:06
Pete Carroll talks about his top draft picks at end of Seahawks’ rookie minicamp
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discusses his top draft picks at the end of the team’s three-day rookie minicamp. Gregg Bell

On Monday, All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner ended an interview on the Seahawks’ flagship radio station, Seattle’s KIRO AM, with an unsolicited show of support for his star teammate.

“Before we get off, I would like to take this time to shout out to Earl Thomas,” Wagner told 710 ESPN Seattle. “I think he’s an amazing player. I think he’s an amazing person. He’s a Hall of Famer. And just let him know that we’re over here wishing for the best in that situation and we’re thinking about him, and I just want him to know that from this end.”

Asked by the station’s host why he felt the need to voice support for Thomas over the air, unprompted, Wagner said: “Just because he needs to know. He needs to know that we appreciate him over here.”

That’s opposite what Wagner and Thomas had going in December, after Thomas said Wagner should not have played hurt in a pivotal division game at home against the Los Angeles Rams. Wagner was limited by a hamstring injury, and the Rams smacked the Seahawks 42-7 in Seattle to win the NFC West and effectively end the Seahawks’ playoff streak at five seasons.

So at least through all their upheaval this offseason these Seahawks have progressed from that.

The team can begin fining Thomas if he misses any of that June 12-14 minicamp, or training camp.
Thomas isn’t in the mode of giving away money. He’s the opposite. He’s seeking a new, third contract and wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL beyond his deal that ends after the 2018 season. That means at or above the $13 million per year and $40 million guaranteed, what Kansas City gave his 2010 draft classmate Eric Berry last year. He also has stated he wants to remain a Seahawk—at his price, that is.

If Thomas, who turned 29 on May 7, stays away from the mandatory minicamp next month that would indicate he may be willing to lose money over his principle into training camp, too.

But Seahawks general manager John Schneider said last month he’s been told by Thomas’ representatives that the six-time Pro Bowl free safety will not hold out into training camp or the season, as fellow safety Kam Chancellor did for naught while seeking a new deal three years ago.

Schneider has also said the Seahawks’ precedents of getting extensions done with core players before they play out their final contract seasons does not apply to Thomas. The GM has said that’s because this is a third contract for him, not the second ones that others—for Thomas, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Doug Baldwin—have been.

The Seahawks have other contract issues besides Thomas’ beyond this year. Most prominently, they must plan for giving Wilson a new, third contract at $30-million-plus per year this time next year. The franchise quarterback’s deal ends after 2019. And the market for elite quarterbacks continues to rise. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers next in line to push that going rate even higher.

The Seahawks have had stars skip OTAs and offseason workouts in previous springs. Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett used to stay at his winter home in Hawaii then show up for the mandatory minicamp and training camp to avoid fines. Former cornerstone running back Marshawn Lynch also usually only showed up when he was mandated to, usually by the start of training camp.

Thomas has been publicly preparing for the possibility the transitioning Seahawks will decide to let him leave rather than give him a new, rich deal as he approaches 30 years old.

In December, after a win at Dallas in his home state of Texas, Thomas went to the Cowboys’ locker room and told coach Jason Garrett to “come get me.” A few minutes later in the locker room in Arlington, Texas, that Christmas Eve day, Thomas said he meant when Seattle “kicks me to the curb.”