The Seahawks were back in action for their first practice of the week, and in addition to Luke Willson being back with the team that drafted him in 2013, there were several other players back on the field who are returning from injuries.
More on Willson's return, players getting back from injuries and other takeaways from Carroll's press conference following practice:
1. "A big return of guys."
Running back Travis Homer, who had been on the Physically Unable to Perform list prior to Tuesday, passed his physical and was back in action. Also back were cornerback D.J. Reed, center Ethan Pocic, quarterback Geno Smith, tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, safety/nickel corner Marquise Blair and tight end Tyler Mabry.
"This was a really good day to see a bunch of guys come back to work and get on the field," Carroll said. "… It was a big return of guys coming back to work, which was great."
On Reed, who is competing for a starting job at cornerback, Carroll said the Seahawks saw enough of him last year to know how he fits into the competition despite the time off.
"We love his play, we love the way he plays and all of that," Carroll said. "He started camp in great fashion. It's terrific to have him back out now, and with three weeks to go, we know he'll be ready for the opener."
Carroll said the hope is that Pocic, who is competing with Kyle Fuller for the starting spot at center, and Blair, who is trying to win the nickel role, can get some playing time in Saturday's preseason finale, but their status won't be known until late in the week.
Homer, who has been a big contributor on special teams while also taking on the role of third-down running back, brings something different to the team with his return, Carroll explained.
"I'm really excited about him coming back," Carroll said. "He's different than the other guys. He runs different, he's got his own style, he's really downhill, he's really fast. He's such a tough football player, special teams, every aspect of our game, everything we ever asked of him he did physically right. So he gives us a different mode."
2. Injury updates.
While the Seahawks welcomed a lot of players back to practice, a handful of players were unavailable, including rookie cornerback Tre Brown, safety Quandre Diggs, safety Ryan Neal and tight end Colby Parkinson.
Carroll said Brown, who recently has been getting time with the No. 1 defense, had a sore knee, adding, "I think we're kind of going day to day right now."
Carroll described Diggs' absence as a rest day, saying, "He needed a day today. It was a good day to have him take a break."
Neal, who left Saturday's preseason game with an oblique strain, is day to day, Carroll said. "He's got two little things going on in there. He's a real tough guy about it. That's something he's just got to wait and see, there's not a good predictable history on how to count on these things. We'll just go day to day with him, I know he wants to play really bad this weekend."
As for Parkinson, who has a fracture in his foot, Carroll isn't ruling out a return by Week 1, but it's too soon to make any predictions on a timeline for his return.
"He's really optimistic about it and all of that," Carroll said. "He's running in the pool and he's making good progress. He had a real slight fracture that wasn't displaced in any way, so it's just up to how he can handle it. So he has a chance, and he's very optimistic about it. We won't know for a while. We won't even try to figure that out for another two weeks."
3. Luke Willson still brings the juice.
Willson is back with the Seahawks again first and foremost because the Seahawks need depth at tight end with Parkinson out and with Mabry just getting back from his injury, but there are also intangibles he brings with his energy—Carroll once described him as "an unusually gifted, spirted soul"—that can help a team.
"I think it's really important," Carroll said. "It sure is important in our program. We're trying to live on the high end of this thing and keep the spirit up and keep the energy high. Expectations are really high to do that, and it takes leadership and participation, and certain people just have more juice than others. Luke has always been a great part of that for us, and he's just one of my favorites that we've had in the program over the years."
As for how Wilson did in his first practice since the end of last season, Carroll said, "He looked fine. He's been working really hard. He's real trim and ran well, caught a few balls. Did a nice job today."
4. Dee Eskridge is progressing well after returning from PUP.
Dee Eskridge returned to practice last week, and so far the rookie receiver has impressed his coaches in his short time back on the field, and Carroll left the door open to him playing in Saturday's preseason game.
"He's doing well, he's fitting right in," Carroll said. "He's a natural and things just come easy to him. When he does stuff, it looks the way it's supposed to look whether it's catching the ball, getting out of a break, or even blocking and using his hands. He's a very strong kid for his size and it shows. He's got good power to him, which we thought, but he played so much split out, not in the slot, and not active in all of those kinds of things, so we just couldn't evaluate those and we had to kind of guess a little bit. So far he's doing fine, and we would love to see him play this week."
5. Nick Bellore is still helping linebacker depth.
Fullback Nick Bellore moved from fullback to linebacker—the position he played during his first seven seasons in the league—earlier in camp because of injuries at that spot, and he has played well enough of late, including a five-tackle performance in last weekend's game, that Carroll is, for now at least, OK with his team's depth at linebacker even after losing Ben Burr-Kirven to a knee injury.
"The thing that happened this weekend is the emergence of Nick Bellore," Carroll said. "Nick really helped us, it was a real shot in the arm for us when Ben went out, so that'll help us right now."
6. Geno Atkins had a good visit.
The Seahawks brought in veteran defensive tackle Geno Atkins for a visit and a medical check this week, and while the eight-time Pro-Bowler left Seattle without signing, Carroll said the visit went well.
"He went back home, but he had a really good workout," Carroll said. "This guy has been around a great deal. He had some things we had to look at, some medical things, so it took some time to get it done, but he did work out for us and looked very good. He had shoulder surgery last year that was something he played with during the season, and he was able to get that repaired, a labrum tear, and he looked pretty good. So we'll see."