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RENTON Nothing new about Earl Thomas. He missed another Wednesday practice, for the fifth consecutive game week.

But this is new: Seattle’s All-Pro safety is much more iffy to play than he has been all season.

Thomas continues to rest and get rehabilitation on his strained right hamstring he sustained late in last weekend’s win over Houston. He may not practice until Friday, if then. The Seahawks may not know until pregame warmups before they host Washington on Sunday if Thomas can play.

“No, not yet. We are going to wait a couple days,” coach Pete Carroll said before Wednesday’s practice. “We will see on Friday.”
Bradley McDougald is readying to make his first Seahawks start.

General manager John Schneider and his personnel staff signed the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter in the spring, to backup both Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor. His coaches have been finding increasing roles for him as a bigger, fifth, “nickel” defensive back inside against big receivers including tight ends.

“I’ve been working to be a starter since I’ve been here,” McDougald said. “So this is nothing different.”

Carroll says the Seahawks are lucky to have him.

“Very fortunately, on our end of it, Bradley has been a starter in the league for years and he’s got the experience, the savvy,” Carroll said. “He is a play maker. He is really tough. He’s a good tackler, and we have spotted him all over the place to do things in coverage as well as the running game. He is just a really, really good football player to be able to set up.

“There is no question. We don’t have any hesitation in him playing or keeping the plan, principles intact or anything of that. This was a guy that we were very fortunate to get in the offseason. John figured this one out early on and he’s been a great addition to our team and now he is ready to go. He is excited about it and I’m anxious to see him play.”
The Seahawks had 10 players sit out practice. That’s not entirely alarming on any November Wednesday after banging for seven games.

#Seahawks practice: Earl Thomas may not play; Jarran Reed new. Others seem vet rest/maintenance–except for Lane still coming back from HOU pic.twitter.com/DV5hBXfCN9

— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 1, 2017
Of those, Chancellor, Wagner, Bennett and Freeney seemed like veteran rest and/or maintenance days for nagging aches.

Lane was still returning from Houston after he failed his physical exam following Seattle trading him to the Texans to get left tackle Duane Brown, who debuted in Seahawks practice Wednesday. McDougald acknowledged that the situation of Lane’s return to the team that dealt him away “is definitely different” and that “Jeremy might be at a weird stage.”

My News Tribune colleague John McGrath details how awkward that whole deal is.

“Jeremy Lane is having one hell of a season,” McGrath writes. “With an emphasis on the hell.”

Reed’s concussion listing was new. He was getting praise last week from Carroll for his advancement in his second NFL season inside on the defensive front.

Britt sprained his ankle two games ago in the win at the New York Giants but finished that game while missing only six plays. He played all of last weekend’s win over the Texans. Carroll said his center and 2016 Pro Bowl alternate is OK to play again Sunday.

“He is fine,” the coach said. “We are going to go light on him today just to make sure from the aftermath of the game but he will be fine and ready to play.”

Freeney didn’t practice because he’s 37 and a future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher, and doesn’t have to.

 

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Here’s what we learned during and after the Seahawks’ 14th practice of training camp Wednesday, and the last that was open to the public (the Seahawks officially break camp on Thursday).

1. Expect Dewey McDonald to start at weakside linebacker Friday in place of K.J. Wright
There was no more clarity on Wednesday to the status of Wright, who coach Pete Carroll said on Tuesday is away from the area having “a process’’ done to try to fix a nagging knee injury.

However, defensive coordinator Kris Richard said to expect Dewey McDonald to get the start in place of Wright.

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“We will move Dewey McDonald up and we will allow him to get out there and play and to show what he is capable of,’’ Richard said of McDonald, who was mostly a special teams player a year ago after being acquired in a trade with the Raiders. “He is a really good football player, three-position (linebacker) value between base and nickel and has played some safety in the past. He’s a guy that again, we are looking to see who we can trust with consistency and right now this is going to be his opportunity.’’

Terence Garvin has also played some WLB in the team’s nickel defense and he could see more action in that role on Friday with Wright out, as well. Richard said that for now the team wants to keep Garvin in a role of playing strongside linebacker in the base defense and weakside in the nickel allowing him to have to learn just two roles in what is his first season with the Seahawks. Richard said keeping Garvin to two spots for now “allows him to play fast.’’

2. Tramaine Brock will start out at nickelback

Richard also said that Brock, who was signed by the Seahawks on Wednesday, will begin his Seattle career playing the nickel spot.

Brock played mostly outside during his 49ers career but also said he played extensively at nickel in 2015.

“It may be the easiest thing for him right now,’’ Richard said. “We are essentially in the middle of camp. He’s coming in and we want him to have the most immediate impact that he possibly could and it could easily be inside more than outside.’’

3. Mark Glowinski will start at right guard against the Vikings Friday

In what appears to be almost a true rotation right now, Glowinski will get the start at right guard Friday after Oday Aboushi got the start last week against the Chargers, offensive line coach Tom Cable said after practice.

Cable said the right side of the line remains in some flux but that the rest is just about settled — center Justin Britt, left guard Luke Joeckel and left tackle George Fant.

“Really, I think the biggest pressing issue right now is to solidify that right side,’’ Cable said. “I think we’re pretty solid at center left guard, left tackle. So now we just want to make sure the opportunity is there for everybody to compete, get their opportunity on the right side and then we’ll make that decision. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Cable said rookie Ethan Pocic will get some turns at right guard this week as well after playing right tackle last week backing up Germain Ifedi. That sounds like Ifedi basically winning the right tackle job though Cable wouldn’t go quite that far.

“I think he’s probably on schedule,’’ Cable said of Ifedi. “I’m a little disappointed in that week he missed (due to injury from a punch thrown by Frank Clark). I think that would have really kind of been a big deal for him. So we’re trying to play catch up a little bit. But he seems to be doing fine.”
4. Kasen Williams does appear to be moving up the depth chart a little bit

For the second straight day Williams got some significant work with the number one offense at receiver in a week that follows his breakout performance against the Chargers when he caught four passes for 119 yards.

Williams is stepping into the rotation in part in place of Paul Richardson, who was able to do some work today but did not go fully during team drills and seems unlikely to play against the Vikings after hurting his shoulder against the Chargers.

But the receiving corps otherwise is getting healthy as Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett participated fully today. Lockett made a dazzling touchdown catch during an early team drill. Carroll didn’t talk to the media today so there weren’t a lot of player updates but it will be interesting to see if Lockett plays on Friday.

5. Thomas Rawls again did not do team drills

For the second straight practice Rawls participated in some early work and conditioning but then headed into the VMAC for a while and then came back out and watched team drills from the sidelines.
It’s unclear if Rawls is just resting some — which seems likely — or there is some other issue (he did not appear hurt during Sunday’s game). But that had Eddie Lacy again working with the first team offense during team drills and that might foreshadow that the Seahawks will get Lacy work with the first team in Friday’s game against the Vikings. Chris Carson followed Lacy in the rotations and might also be getting set up to play more earlier in the game this week than he did last week.

6. A few more personnel notes:

— Tight end Jimmy Graham was a full participant on Wednesday after getting what appeared to be a rest day on Tuesday. Luke Willson was still out and seems unlikely to play which again might mean significant playing time early for Nick Vannett and Marcus Lucas.

— Jeremy Lane was again the starter at right cornerback in the base defense with Shaquill Griffin then coming in for the nickel, playing outside with Lane shifting inside. So that will likely be the way the Seahawks open on Friday against the Vikings, as well.

— Brock’s addition will obviously shake up the cornerback rotation. DeAndre Elliottt has been running as the backup nickel but it’ll be interesting to see if the team gets Brock out there quickly on Friday. Pierre Desir and Griffin were the backup base cornerbacks today.

— Linebacker Michael Wilhoite did not practice on Wednesday — unclear if he has an injury or maybe getting a veteran’s day off.
— Marcus Smith again practiced fully and despite being listed as a defensive end is working with the linebackers, specifically at SLB.

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NFL training camp gets going in three weeks, and that means the NFL regular season is only two months away. I imagine most of us will be focusing on our San Francisco 49ers during training camp, but it will help to know a little bit about the rest of the league. SB Nation’s 32 NFL sites are putting together basic rundowns of what their team has been up to this offseason.

Each explainer includes free agent additions and departures, trades, draft picks expected to contribute as rookies, biggest offseason addition, biggest storyline, underrated storyline, and notable injuries. The idea is to give you a quick but thorough background on each team. We’ll use these to look at 49ers opponents, but if we have time, I want to try and use all 32 to give us a nice look around the league.

Today, we move on to the Seattle Seahawks, courtesy of our friends at Field Gulls. The 49ers travel to face their division rival in Week 2, and host them in Week 12.

The 49ers have lost seven straight to the Seahawks, and have not won in Seattle since 2011. It was an intense rivalry at times, but it has become decidedly one-sided. The 49ers hung close in their home game last year, but came up short.

The Seahawks remain the standard-bearer in the NFC West. They are heavy favorites to win the NFC West, but the bigger question is how much longer their window is open to win another Super Bowl. Most important right now is that they have put some work into beginning the overhaul of their secondary. They drafted a cornerback and two safeties, and it will be interesting to see how soon they begin the transition away from some of their notable names.

On offense, they signed Austin Davis over Colin Kaepernick to compete for a backup role to Russell Wilson. It was a bit of an up-and-down season for Wilson last year as he was banged up at different points. If he gets hurt, they’re in trouble.

Notable free agent additions: RB Eddie Lacy, OT/OG Luke Joeckel, OG Oday Aboushi, LB Michael Wilhoite, LB Arthur Brown, S/CB Bradley McDougald, QB Austin Davis, LB Terence Garvin, DE Dion Jordan, K Blair Walsh

Notable free agent departures: OT Bradley Sowell, K Steven Hauschka, OT Garry Gilliam, TE Brandon Williams, RB Troymaine Pope, FB Will Tukuafu, DT Tony McDaniel, LB Brock Coyle, DE Damontre Moore

Trades: RB Marshawn Lynch to Raiders

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:

DT/5-Tech Malik McDowell – The Seahawks traded down twice and eventually selected McDowell out of Michigan State to be their answer to a lack of an inside pass rush. As a rookie, I expect him to be a regular rotation player on the inside with run-stopper Jarran Reed, their second round pick in 2016. Fans and experts will keep a close eye on McDowell’s effort and commitment early on.

C/G/T Ethan Pocic – Seattle needed to address their league-worst offensive line at some point, and they did so with Pocic at pick 58. He was an All-American center at LSU but is competing at tackle and guard for the Seahawks. If he doesn’t win a starting job it would be mildly surprising, but at worst he’ll be the next man up as a super-sub.

CB Shaquill Griffin – The Seahawks needed someone to play either outside or nickel cornerback following the ACL tear to DeShawn Shead last season and the struggles of Jeremy Lane. Griffin has drawn immediate praise from defensive coordinator Kris Richard as one of the smartest players they’ve had at the position (third round is the earliest Pete Carroll has drafted a corner in his eight seasons with the team) and he’ll probably be the first man up for the slot when Seattle is in nickel. That pretty much makes him a starter as Lane played 71% of snaps last season while playing in the slot. Griffin could also potentially start on the outside opposite of Sherman.

S Delano Hill and S Tedric Thompson – The Seahawks clearly needed depth at safety after they struggled mightily following the broken leg to Earl Thomas last season and the constant bang-ups to Kam Chancellor. Depth is markedly improved but Hill and Thompson may play sparingly as rookies.

DT Naz Jones – Another third round pick (Seattle had four), Jones probably sits and learns for a bit, but Carroll will give him the opportunity to compete for a spot in the rotation.

WR Amara Darboh – The Seahawks drafted Darboh with their last pick in the third round, which is high enough to consider Darboh a player to watch this season. He’s been compared to Jermaine Kearse, a player that a lot of fans want to see replaced immediately as a starter. Darboh, and fellow rookies David Moore (seventh round) and Cyril Grayson (signed before the draft, a track star who never played football at LSU) are all drawing praise in offseason workouts.

Biggest offseason addition:

There are a number of players to seriously consider here, including Joeckel, Lacy, McDowell, and Pocic, but I’ll go with Shaq Griffin. The Seahawks have had the best secondary in the NFL for most of the last five years, but that started to crumble last season. Griffin could become a staple of the next iteration of the Legion of Boom and they may need him immediately. He has the ball skills and athleticism to excel in Carroll’s system, and Carroll is arguably the best defensive backs coach in NFL history. I’ll go with Griffin, followed by Lacy. Seattle needs to get their run game back on track too.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp:

The offensive line’s ability to protect Russell Wilson this year. The o-line was the biggest story for all the wrong reasons in 2016, but the additions of Joeckel, Aboushi, and Pocic, plus the hopeful maturation of Germain Ifedi and George Fant, could push it to at least getting out of the cellar. Wilson doesn’t need much to work with to stay on his feet, as he’s one of the most athletic QBs in the league, but he needs more than they gave him last year when he suffered three notable injuries. As Wilson goes, so do the Seahawks. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to open up more lanes for Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and secret superstar C.J. Prosise.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:

I would keep an eye on the role that newly-signed safety Bradley McDougald plays. The coaches seem very excited about him and the role he’ll play in 2017, so I think there’s reason for optimism that he could become a key player and a fan favorite almost immediately. McDougald flew under the radar during his three-and-change seasons with the Buccaneers and signed a one-year deal in Seattle, but he could be just the type of guy who was bottled up and needs the right system to truly fly. If he does, there’s a good chance the Seahawks won’t be able to keep him and he’ll be one-and-done.

Notable injuries heading into training camp:

Seattle fans have kept close tabs on the broken legs of Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett. Both seem on track for Week 1. DeShawn Shead (ACL) will probably start the season on PUP but could be a huge boost for the second half of the season. C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls, and Eddie Lacy are slated to be the running backs; none are dealing with specific injuries right now that should keep them out for Week 1, but all have extensive injury histories and that’s a concern that fans hope doesn’t pop up this season with much regularity.