After an extra day off, the Seahawks kicked off their practice week Thursday as they prepare for a Monday night game against the New York Giants. And if all goes well in practice this week, the Seahawks could be welcoming back two key members of their secondary, safety Jamal Adams and cornerback Riq Woolen.
The idea of having those two back on the field is exciting for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and the rest of the coaching staff, which Carroll discussed, along with several other topics, during his press conference prior to Thursday's practice.
Here are five takeaways from Carroll's session with the media:
1. The prospect of seeing Jamal Adams and Riq Woolen back in action is exciting.
The Seahawks have been without All-Pro safety Jamal Adams since the first half of last season's opener, but after a long and grueling rehabilitation process to recover from a torn quadriceps tendon, Adams is on track to make his 2023 debut presuming everything goes according to plan this week.
The Seahawks are also hoping to get Riq Woolen back after he missed one game due to a chest injury, which means for the first time this season the Seahawks could have something close to their full secondary on the field—though the status of Coby Bryant (toe) and Tre Brown (concussion) is still unclear.
"I am excited to see that," Carroll said. "I'm excited to see if we can make it through the week and both (Witherspoon and Woolen) get to play, and Jamal getting out there too. We've had this image of what it could be and how we could play. I'm not setting expectations off the charts here; I want our guys to get out there and play and come back and help their team. That's all I'm asking of them. It is exciting. I'm so happy for Jamal, he gets to get back to football and playing again."
2. The pass-rush improvements have been a team effort.
The Seahawks had no sacks and only two quarterback hits through the first six quarters of the season, but the pass rush began to wake up in the second half of their Week 2 win in Detroit. The Seahawks had two sacks and six quarterback hits in the second half of that game, then had three sacks and 11 quarterback hits in Sunday's win over Carolina. And according to Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks generated 36 pressures against Carolina, the most in the NFL for Week 3.
The cause for that improvement, Carroll said, has been not just the players up front doing a better job as they continue to grow as a unit, but also the coverage on the back end forcing quarterbacks to hold the ball a bit longer.
"It's working together," Carroll said. "We're covering guys a little bit better; we're getting better, we're getting tighter. The efficiency of our games, which means the guys working together. It's not just we're running this stunt; they're running the stunt in this manner and they have a sense and a feel for one another. We're just growing together. It takes time and we're still working on it."
3. Despite improvements in the running game in Week 3, Carroll still wants more consistency.
The Seahawks rushed for a season-best 146 yards in Sunday's win over Carolina, and averaged a solid 4.4 yards per carry. Kenneth Walker III even earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 97 yards and two touchdowns while also catching three passes for 59 yards.
But while those numbers all represent progress for the running game and the offense, the Seahawks still aren't where they want to be in that phase of the game.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Carroll said. "We had a nice game last week and both guys contributed in a big way. We have a lot of work to do in the running game."
4. A homecoming weekend of sorts.
When the Seahawks play at MetLife Stadium, it will be a very familiar setting for several prominent Seahawks players. For quarterback Geno Smith, who began his career with the Jets, starting in 2013 and 2014, it will be his first start in that building since he started one game during the 2016 season. Jamal Adams, meanwhile, will return to the building he called home for three seasons with the Jets before he was traded to Seattle, and fellow safety Julian Love will be facing a lot of former teammates, having spent the last four seasons with the Giants before signing with the Seahawks as a free agent.
Carroll expects all of those players to handle a return to New York well, but he also will address it with them individually, especially with the extra spotlight of Monday Night Football on this game.
"It's always a challenge when you play for the place you're returning to," Carroll said. "It always can be a challenge; guys take it differently. We'll talk it through."
New York games are also something of a homecoming for Carroll, who was the Jets' defensive coordinator from 1990-1993 before becoming a head coach for the first time in 1994.
"Like anyone that's ever coached there or worked there in New York, and you've been there long enough where you've got the feeling of what it's all about, it's an extraordinary place," Carroll said. "It's an extraordinary memory to be part of that. To have had a chance to be on top of it for a short while, a matter of months, it's significant to represent that town. It's an amazing place. It's fun to go back and see it again."
Carroll and the Seahawks also have fond memories of MetLife Stadium, which has been home to both New York teams since 2010, winning all five games there, three over the Giants, one over the Jets, and, most notably, a 43-8 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the anniversary of which the Seahawks just celebrated last weekend.
"We had a nice night there," Carroll said of the Super Bowl win. "That's something that these guys don't know. There's only a couple of guys that would even relate to that. Just the staff, we've been there before and it's fun to go back, coming off last week with our guys all around and all of that."
5. Injury updates
While Carroll is optimistic about Woolen and Adams' returns, he did not yet have a lot of clarity on several other players dealing with injuries.
"We should be a little bit healthier this week, we'll see," he said. "We have to make it through the week, but we do have some guys coming back to action."
On left tackle Charles Cross, who has missed the past two games with a toe injury, Carroll said, "He's running around a little bit, we'll see," Carroll said. "He's out there (at walkthrough)."
Carroll also said, "We'll see" on right guard Phil Haynes, who missed last week's game with a calf injury.
On outside linebacker Darrell Taylor, who left the game with a shin injury, Carroll said, "Darrell Taylor was in the walkthrough today. We'll see if he makes it."
Also leaving Sunday's game early was defensive end Dre'Mont Jones, who has a hip injury. Carroll said Jones, "is making an improvement. This was an encouraging day. We'll see how it goes."
Carroll said cornerback Tre Brown is "still in the protocol," after exiting Sunday's game with a concussion.
Will Dissly, who didn't play Sunday due to a shoulder injury "is doing pretty well," Carroll said. "He's encouraged, he's hoping he can play."
Cornerback/safety Coby Bryant, who didn't play due to a toe injury, is also trying to work his way back.
"He's trying to get out there," Carroll said. "Like Will (Dissly), both of them trying to get on the practice field today."
Seahawks practice indoors at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Wash. on Sept. 28, 2023 as they prepare for their Week 4 matchup at the Giants.