With the Seahawks' offseason workout program coming to an end last week with a three-day minicamp, players now get to enjoy a six-week break before returning for training camp in late July. But just because there's no football going on at the VMAC right now, that doesn't mean we can't still talk about football, so with that in mind, it's time once again to answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@jamie_foutz asks, "Will you be using the running back by committee this season since you have three good running backs, or will you just ride one guy through the season?" @_Nathan_Gibson also asks if a starting running back has emerged.
A: While the Seahawks had a lot of success with one featured back, Marshawn Lynch, through much of Pete Carroll and John Schneider's tenure in Seattle, Carroll has made it clear whenever he is asked about this topic that he is completely fine with, and in some ways even prefers, using a mix of backs who can complement each other with different skill sets. The most obvious example from Carroll's career is the USC backfield that featured Reggie Bush and LenDale White. The Seahawks were hoping to have a somewhat similar multi-back setup last year, but two of their top backs, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise, were injured for much of the season.
With everyone healthy and with first-round pick Rashaad Penny joining the competition this year, running back figures to be very competitive. And while Carroll would be just fine with one player seizing the starting job in training camp and the preseason, he also would not hesitate to give fairly equal playing time to multiple backs if that's what he feels is best for the offense. And it's worth noting that if the Seahawks are able to get back to having a more productive running game and a more balanced offense—one of Carroll's stated goals this offseason—there will be enough carries to go around for multiple backs even if there is a starter taking up a significant portion of the touches. For example, the 2014 Seahawks led the NFL in rushing with 2,762 yards, and while Lynch led the way with a Pro-Bowl season, he still accounted for just under half of the team's rushing yards with 1,302.
On a somewhat related note…
@RAYKation asks, "What's the deepest, most competitive position group?"
A: To build off of the last question, running back has the potential to be a really interesting and deep position group in camp if that group can stay healthy. Chris Carson, who won the starting job as a rookie, only to sustain a season-ending injury in Week 4, was one of the standouts in offseason workouts. C.J. Prosise has shown a ton of potential in small doses over the past two seasons, but struggled to stay on the field, and looked good throughout the spring. Rookie Rashaad Penny joins those two, as well as Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic, to form a group Carroll said he is "really excited about."
"It just feels different, just to have everybody healthy and out there working and all," Carroll said last month. "We've had really high hopes for C.J. and we've seen Mike Davis play really good for us and we got excited about J.D. McKissic and now to see Chris back out there in really extraordinary condition, he's had a tremendous offseason, and then add Rashaad (Penny) in there as well. It's just a really fine group and very versatile. There's really kind of no restrictions on what they can do in terms of catching the ball and getting out of the backfield and the kicking game and all kinds of stuff. It's a really good group and again, it helps that they're all healthy. It keeps their reps down and hopefully we can keep marching forward in a positive way and just keep growing. It is really the source of my excitement to see all those guys together because we've needed them. It's been two years really not having a group all together so it's pleasing."
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks should be strong at linebacker both in terms of front-line talent and depth. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are two of the best in the NFL at their jobs, and the Seahawks are excited about free-agent signing Barkevious Mingo as a potential starter at strongside linebacker. In terms of depth, there's a solid mix of veterans like D.J. Alexander and Marcus Smith, and young talent, including 2018 draft pick Shaquem Griffin.
While there has been a notable departure at cornerback (Richard Sherman) and a big health-related question still to be answered at safety (Kam Chancellor), the secondary still figures to be highly competitive. At safety, the Seahawks have Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougald back, as well as former Rams starter Maurice Alexander and a pair of highly-regarded 2017 draft picks, Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson. And at cornerback, the re-signing of Byron Maxwell means the Seahawks return their three top corners who finished the season after Sherman's injury, Shaquill Griffin, Maxwell and nickel corner Justin Coleman. Among those competing at corner are Neiko Thrope, arguably Seattle's best special teams player over the last two years, Mike Tyson, a 2017 draft pick, former 49ers starter Dontae Johnson, and rookie Tre Flowers, a safety convert about whom Carroll has spoken very excitedly.
@dhodgs asks, "Which side of the ball would make a better soccer squad, offense plus the kicker or defense plus the punter?"
A: With the World Cup currently underway, a number of people, including former Seahawks digital media intern Joe Fann at 49ers.com, have done various NFL-player soccer lineups, and I'll admit I've spent more time thinking about that idea with Seahawks players than I probably should have.
As for this question, adding the kicker and punter to the equation is rather significant, because before he became an NFL kicker, Sebastian Janikowski was a very accomplished soccer player in Poland, even playing for his country's Under-17 national team at one point. Apparently he even turned down a chance to play professionally in Argentina in order to pursue college football. So yeah, even at 40 I'd be willing to guess Janikowski would more than hold his own against younger, faster players without his soccer pedigree.
Overall, however, I like what a lot of defensive players could offer on a soccer field (you know, forgetting for a second that they're not actually soccer players). K.J. Wright has great height and length to play goalkeeper, plus that same intuition he uses to read plays and snuff out screen passes would come in handy when helping organize a defense. Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner would be a great, physical pairing at center back. And if Earl Thomas can be the league's best sideline-to-sideline safety, why can't he be a dominant box-to-box midfielder on our fictitious soccer team.
Then again, Russell Wilson might make for a very good playmaking midfielder, and I could see Brandon Marshall as a great scoring threat in the box. For sheer speed, give me former LSU track standout Cyril Grayson Jr. and fellow receiver Tyler Lockett as wingers to help spark the offense. I'd also find room for Doug Baldwin somewhere on the field for his passion and leadership, not to mention athletic ability.
@Lougheed_E asks, "How has Tre Flowers been doing in his transition from safety to corner?"
A: It's still far too early to make any declarations on Flowers other than that, at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, he sure looks the part of a Seahawks corner. It will definitely take Flowers time to fully find his way at a new position, especially given the demanding technique Carroll's defense calls for cornerbacks to use, but the early reviews have been positive, even just a few days into his conversion.
After rookie minicamp, Carroll said he was "really excited" about Flowers' potential as a corner, adding, "He looked very comfortable, very equipped to do the kinds of stuff… He's got all of the tools that you're looking for. He's real long. He's feet are really quick and light and he's got terrific speed, and he's already show all of the abilities to make the plays by playing safety for all of those years – the tackles, the hits and the plays on the ball and all of that. That's not even a concern of mine. Can he take to the discipline of it? Will he sit there and understand how it works? He showed like he really understood right off the bat. So it was a very good demonstration of what the future could hold. I was really pleased with that."
@JCHamner73 asks, "What are the Seahawks doing about the offensive line?"
A: The Seahawks did make a couple of moves this offseason in hopes of improving their offensive line play, most notably making a change at offensive line coach, hiring Mike Solari to replace Tom Cable. Seattle also added D.J. Fluker, a potential starter at right guard, in free agency.
Carroll and his players are confident that those changes, combined with the continued growth of young players like Ethan Pocic and Germain Ifedi, as well as the leadership of Britt and Duane Brown, will lead to improved line play in 2018.
"We're all heading into camp excited for our offense and what we have potential to be, and that's the best offense we've had here in a long time," Britt said.
@whompetgaming asks, "How is Ethan Pocic looking?"
A: More than anything, he's looking bigger, having put on about 20 pounds this offseason. The fact that OTAs and minicamp are non-padded practices means it's hard for linemen to show what they can really do, but with a year of starting experience under his belt and that added strength and weight, the Seahawks are hoping the 2017 second-round pick can take a step forward after what was an already impressive rookie campaign.
"Ethan Pocic came back 20 pounds heavier after a really great offseason of work that we really wanted him to do, and he just carried it off and did a beautiful job," Carroll said when naming Pocic among his standouts from offseason workouts.
@Holli_Alexa asks, "With The Incredibles 2 out, who on the team would make the best superheroes and what would their powers be?"
A: Well the Seahawks already have a player known as Spider Man (K.J. Wright), a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle enthusiast (Bobby Wagner), a quarterback, Russell Wilson, who has taken to calling himself Mr. Unlimited, which kind of sounds like a superhero name, and a guard, Jordan Roos, who goes by Creature Man, so they're off to a pretty good start on forming their super group. Earl Thomas sometimes looks like he can teleport the way he covers ground on the field, and Kam Chancellor as "The Enforcer" also works as a superhero, so let's add them to the group. And just for fun, let's add Frank Clark's alter ego, Black Elvis, to the team as well.
@charlescanlon asks, "Thoughts on the 2018 Seahawks draft class?"
A: Why offer my thoughts when we just got Pete Carroll's thoughts, which are far more relevant, just last week.
When asked about the class, Carroll answered, "Really there's nothing but solid stuff here. Rashaad (Penny) really was impressive throughout. He has picked up a ton of stuff. (Running backs coach) Chad (Morton) was just talking about the pass protection stuff that he looks so comfortable with after the time he has been here. That was something that was new for him and a demanding part of the game. We don't have any hesitation that he's going to be fine in that area. He's a really good route runner and a good catcher, very smooth, has excellent feet, he stayed in great shape throughout all of the time that we had him, he reported well in shape, he didn't have go back and forth. He came in about 230 and kind of maintained that weight throughout. Rasheem (Green) has been impressive. Then just moving right through the guys, it has been a good group so far and we're off and running with them. Will Dissly, what we wanted to see in him, we saw everything we could see. He needs to be in pads because he's a line of scrimmage guy who can help us. He weighs 270-something playing tight end, we've wanted to get big and strong there. He was the guy we hoped to get, we got him and he looks the part. You go right through the class, that's what it feel like. We talked about Shaquem. Michael Dickson did a nice job too kicking the ball, he's going to be in the competition of it. I'm just fired up about the whole group."
Earlier in that same press conference, Carroll was asked specifically about Shaquem Griffin, saying, "I just talked to him coming off the field. What was really positive was how he finished the offseason. Moving back to an inside spot for him was new and he had a lot to learn and a lot to pick up. Just in the process of it, as a guy who wants to do right and do things just as they coaches are coaching him up, we didn't see him really cut loose until the last, really in this camp, he really felt comfortable and started flying around and you could see how fast he is and the acceleration that he has. It's really unique, it just jumped off the film. I think we'll see it again in today's practice, but the first two days were a change, which was really positive. I didn't want to see him be stoved up too long where couldn't get comfortable so he could start moving and flying, and he did it. The same thing happened with (Barkevious) Mingo too, both of those guys showed that after being here a while, they needed to get comfortable, then all of a sudden you start to see the burst and the speed that they bring that has been part of their makeup."