The Seahawks practiced Wednesday, their penultimate practice before players will enjoy a weekend off before kicking off preparation for their regular-season opener at Indianapolis. This is a new format due to the NFL switching to a three-game preseason, one that gives teams a full two weeks off between their final preseason game and the regular-season opener, as opposed to the old format that had the opener come 10 days after the final preseason game. It's a format Seahawk coach Pete Carroll likes in that it will give players more time to get healthier while preparing for the regular season.
"I think it's incredibly valuable for the players to have a chance to have this week in prep for next week and the opener," Carroll said. "Coming off camp and the games and all that kind of stuff, whatever we got done in that time, this is a time for guys to maybe heal up, maybe get clear about their assignments, teams to come together even more so with the focus on really improvement and getting better instead of having to get ready for another game. So I think it's a great idea, and I really am really glad we're doing it."
In addition to Carroll's affinity for what is essentially a preseason bye, here are five takeaways from his Wednesday press conference:
1. Clarity on one starting cornerback spot?
A day earlier, D.J. Reed told reporters that he had been working at left cornerback after spending training camp competing for the starting job on the right side. Asked about that move, Carroll said it was made because Tre Flowers, who has been competing with Reed on the right side, is playing so well.
Carroll stopped short of declaring Flowers the Week 1 starter, but the implication seemed to be he's in the driver's seat at that spot with another week of practice to go.
"Tre had such a good camp," Carroll said. "He just battled every day and did a great job. When you let guys compete, you don't know how it's going to turn out, that's the whole idea, and I thought Tre had a fantastic camp. So that's why he gets a chance on the right side."
Asked directly if that meant Flowers is the starting right corner, Carroll said, "You'll see when we get there."
As for what he has seen out of Flowers this year that is different from years past, Carroll said, "His consistency. He's always been tough. He's always been aggressive and physical and tough. But his consistency really just making plays; he made plays all camp, all kinds of stuff. In zone and man-to-man, he just seemed much more comfortable making plays on the ball, which was great to see."
2. What the Seahawks saw in Sidney Jones.
The Seahawks made a trade this week with Jacksonville to acquire former University of Washington standout Sidney Jones, a player Carroll and company have been a aware of for a long time given where he played his college ball. In Jones, the Seahawks feel like they've acquired "a complete football player" who can help their secondary.
"He's a complete football player," Carroll said. "We've known him for a long time, of course, being here. He's aggressive, he's a very savvy football player, he's a really good technician, a very smart player, he's an all-around athlete, he's really well equipped, got good ball skills, and all that kind of stuff. We really have a lot of information on him knowing the coaches that have coached him and the whole thing. So we feel very fortunate to get him to come in here and let him have a chance to compete."
Carroll said they'll look at Jones at both left and right quarterback, and when asked if he's familiar with the technique the Seahawks ask their corners to use, he noted that current Washington head coach Jimmy Lake, who previously was the team's defensive backs coach then defensive coordinator while Jones played there, prepared Jones well.
"Yeah, Jimmy did a good job with him, really He coached the heck out of him, and it was obvious," Carroll said.
3. Why the Seahawks claimed Dakoda Shepley and Nigel Warrior off waivers.
The Seahawks added two players via the waiver wire on Wednesday, claiming former 49ers offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley, who they're using at center, and former Ravens cornerback Nigel Warrior, a former all-conference safety at Tennessee.
Asked about Shepley, Carroll said the Seahawks were surprised to see him available via waivers and felt fortunate to be able to add him: "Really, really liked him at center. We were surprised that he was available. As we watched—our guys did a really good preseason evaluation of him, and then as came down to last night, he was really one of our favorite guys, and shoot if he didn't show up for us. So we were very fortunate to get him.
On Warrior, Carroll said, "He's really tough. He's a physical, tough dude and he plays really hard. He played a lot of safety at Tennessee, and you can see the mentality come out in his play. We love the guys that show that kind of energy about the way he plays. And so I'm looking forward to see him join up with the guys."
4. Injury updates.
Ryan Neal, who has been dealing with an oblique injury, "should be ready to go full next week," Carroll said.
Tight end Colby Parkinson, who is trying to get back from a foot injury sustained earlier in camp, is running this week but it's too soon to put a timetable on his return, Carroll said: "He's working really hard at it. He's running out here on the field every day now. It's a hard one to call for the trainers right now, we don't know how it's going to go."
There's also no timeline yet on cornerback Tre Brown, who is coming back from a knee sprain, who Carroll noted might have been in the running for a starting spot if not for that injury.
"The timeline for that isn't set yet," Carroll said. "I don't know how that's going to turn right now. He had a really good camp, he did a fantastic job of battling… Had he been in the mix, he might have been right at the front of the competition, because he had a shot to do that. I was open-minded about that, but unfortunately he got set back. So we'll know that when he comes back to us—and he's going to be OK, this is not something we don't know about, it's going to be OK, we're just not sure when—he'll enter right back into it."
Linebacker Bobby Wagner has also been sitting out practice this week, but not for an injury, but rather due to a treatment he gets every year that requires a bit of recovery. Carroll said Wagner will be back next week at practice.
5. Carroll is "counting on" Duane Brown being ready for the opener.
Left tackle Duane Brown has been with the team throughout camp, taking part in meetings and walkthroughs, but has not participated in practice or the preseason games. With the season-opener coming up, Carroll was asked if there was any clarity on when Brown will be back in action, and said, "I'm counting on him. I'm counting on him being ready."
As for Brown's involvement with the team outside of practice, Carroll said, "He'd been on everything, He's been working out, he's been in all of the walkthrough stuff, he's taken all those reps. He's been in all the meetings, everything, an active part in all of that."
Photos from Seahawks practice on Wednesday, September 1 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.