Pete Carroll met with the media on Monday afternoon following his team's 'Bonus Day' practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Here's four things we learned from the Seahawks head coach:
1. Reinforcements Are On The Way
As difficult as it was to ready for and play two games within a five-day stretch last week, the Seahawks enjoyed a few extra days off this past weekend, spending Friday, Saturday, and Sunday away from team headquarters after Thursday night's 20-3 win at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, and it looks as though the extra days off will aid in the return of several injured Seattle players.
"I think it's a real positive once you get through it," Carroll said. "Like I said last week, our guys really took to the whole preparation of it and jumped into it and did a very nice job. To get the win and the benefit of the weekend also, that's good for us. As long as we get back to football and get it right, Wednesday's practice will be really important to kick that thing into high gear."
After missing the team's Week 7 win against the Niners, Carroll said he expects to see center Patrick Lewis (ankle), cornerback Marcus Burley (hand), defensive tackle Jordan Hill (quadriceps), defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (shoulder), fullback Derrick Coleman (concussion), and linebacker Nick Moody back at practice this Wednesday or Thursday. Assuming they make it through the week of practice, all six players have a chance to play in Seattle's Week 8 game against the Dallas Cowboys. Right tackle Garry Gilliam (ankle), who was spelled at times against the Niners, is expected to play this week. And running back Thomas Rawls (calf), the Seahawks' lone reported injury from last week's win over San Francisco, could also be ready to go for Sunday's game at Dallas.
"He's got a contusion on his calf that a couple extra days will help him," Carroll said of the rookie Rawls. "He's got a chance to be ready for the week. We'll have to wait and see again. He'll probably be Thursday or something before we can try him."
2. The Seahawks Have A Decision To Make At Center
Center Patrick Lewis made his first start of the season in the team's Week 6 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but as noted above, missed Week 7 with an ankle injury. That led to Drew Nowak reclaiming the starting center job he won out of training camp and also led to Seattle re-signing Lemuel Jeanpierre for depth. With Lewis and Nowak both healthy again and expected to be available against the Cowboys, Carroll was asked what the team's plans are at the position moving forward.
"We'll just get to Wednesday and see where we are," Carroll said. "We don't have any plans for that yet, we're going to see where he [Nowak] is and where Patrick is, and just take it one day at a time."
In assessing Nowak's play against the Niners, Carroll offered: "He played solid. We did a nice job in the running game. We had a couple things that got through us on protection, but all in all he played a really solid game against a really good player. [San Francisco 49ers nose tackle] Ian Williams is a really good player and he held up against it."
3. Jeremy Lane Is "A Couple Weeks" Away From Practicing
Wide receiver Paul Richardson, the team's first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft who started the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as a result of an ACL injury he suffered in the playoffs, returned to practice on Monday, a story that Seahawks.com digital media reporter John Boyle has more on right here. Cornerback Jeremy Lane, who also started 2015 on PUP after breaking his arm and injuring his ACL in Super Bowl XLIX, is a bit further behind Richardson in his recovery.
"He's a couple weeks back," Carroll said of Lane. "I think what we're aiming for is the week after the bye to try to practice him and start it up with him. He's close and he really wants to go. He's anxious, and the trainers just want to make sure that they do everything they can to get him as ready as possible. At this time, after you've waited this long, I think it's good to exercise caution here and make sure we don't go too quick."
4. Cowboys Prep Is Already Underway
The team usually waits until Wednesday's practice to start working on the game-plan for its next opponent, but the Seahawks' 'Bonus Day' session on Monday gave them an early jump on the process.
"We had good work today," Carroll said. "We started a little bit on the Dallas game and cleaned up some stuff in the ball game, got to make good use of it."
Whether or not the Cowboys will have their No. 1 wide receiver for this weekend's matchup remains to be seen. Dez Bryant has been sidelined since breaking his foot in the regular-season opener. He had surgery and was expected to miss four to six weeks, so Carroll says the Seahawks are preparing as if the 6-foot-2, 220-pound pass catcher will play.
"Yeah, we certainly will," Carroll said. "I have no idea what's going to happen with that, but we kind of always go that way. If a guy's got a chance to play, we're going to think he's going to play."
The last time the Seahawks played the Cowboys came in Week 6 of last season, a 30-23 Dallas win at CenturyLink Field - Seattle's only home loss last year. In that game, an injury to cornerback Byron Maxwell led cornerback Richard Sherman to shadow Bryant through the second half. It's something Sherman has done against the opposing team's top wideout two of the past three weeks in games against the Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green and 49ers' Torrey Smith. So if Bryant does suit up on Sunday, it wouldn't come as too much of a surprise to see Sherman follow him around. On Monday, Carroll explained what makes Sherman so effective at playing different spots on Seattle's defense.
"He loves the challenge of it," Carroll said. "He's got a great mentality about it, which is a big part of it. He had a terrific game against their guy last week. So I think it's all that. It's experience. It's his great awareness. And really his belief in kind of his own ability to match those kinds of things up and take to those challenges in a special way."