The Seahawks kicked off what head coach Pete Carroll described as "the final push of the offseason" when they began mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, and Carroll said his team "had a really good start to this thing."
"It's a time for us to really review what took place over the offseason," Carroll said. "How far did we come? Where we are learning-wise and how we're doing teaching-wise? And try to assess that going into the summer, so when we come back we can make some adjustments and fix things up so we can cash in come training camp. So everything's going fine, we're fortunate, we're pretty healthy and we've got a lot of guys working out here, so things are going along quite well."
In addition to a number of injury updates, here are six things we learned from Carroll's press conference following Day 1 of minicamp:
1. Shaquem Griffin has had a "very, very good offseason."
After using Shaquem Griffin as a weakside linebacker as a rookie, Carroll noted early in the offseason that they want to find ways to utilize his talents more in 2019, and in particular the pass-rush ability that made him so effective in college. And so far in offseason workouts, Griffin has indeed been used in multiple roles, still playing the off-ball weakside linebacker spot in nickel packages while playing strongside linebacker in base defense, an on-the-line-of-scrimmage position that allows him to rush the passer.
"It has been really a good deal for him," Carroll said. "We see how much background he has on the edge. He's played safety and outside linebacker for the most part in his career. He's just more comfortable out there. That doesn't mean that he can't play behind the line of scrimmage. He's gained a lot there, but you can see him on the edge, in space and coming off the edge and pressures and stuff like that, that it's a good spot for him. So he has had a very, very good offseason with us."
And speaking of Griffins…
2. Shaquill Griffin could make a leap in Year 3.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin had a solid 2018 season, but didn't see the improvements he hoped he would after a promising rookie campaign. The third-year corner spoke frankly last week about what he considered to be a disappointing 2018 season, and about how he hopes a new mindset and slimmed-down frame will help in 2019, and Carroll also thinks big things could be in store for Griffin.
"Trying too hard is a big problem," Carroll said. "And sometimes we're trying to make things happen that aren't there, you know. I think he is determined. He was not satisfied with the season last year. He had a really solid rookie season and expected to really take a big jump and didn't make the jump that he wanted to. So it has really focused him on really setting his sights on the preparation, and it's obvious he's done it, he's put in the work. His mentality is great and I would think that maybe that jump he was counting on then might happen at this time, and we're expecting him to really do it and have a terrific season."
3. Shalom Luani taking advantage of his opportunities.
While the Seahawks expect to have Bradley McDougald, Lano Hill and Marquise Blair back for training camp, all were sidelined on Tuesday due to injuries, and Hill and McDougald have been out throughout OTAs, though both have been present at the workouts. With the Seahawks a bit thin at safety, Shalom Luani has gotten a lot of work with the No. 1 defense, playing strong safety while Tedric Thompson plays free safety. Luani, who was acquired in a trade before the start of last season, has shown the versatility to play both spots, however, which could help the WSU product increase his role on the team in 2019.
"He's versatile," Carroll said. "He's got no problem playing both sides. He's got no problem. We're able to play him at strong and free and move him around and really count on him. He's got good awareness and good savvy—his disguises and his fits and those kinds of things are really natural for him. So he doesn't have any problem playing either side."
On a related note, the injuries at safety have prevented the Seahawks from getting a full look at versatile rookie defensive back Ugo Amadi. Amadi, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon, has been playing almost exclusively at free safety with so many safeties unavailable, but Carroll noted that in camp they will take a look at Amadi in the nickel corner role as well.
4. The backup quarterback battle has "been very competitive."
While the competition to back up Russell Wilson will likely last until the final days of the preseason, quarterbacks Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch are already in the midst of what looks to be a close competition.
"They've been very competitive," Carroll said. "They kind of go back and forth. We keep numbers and stuff like that—they're statting out pretty much on par with each other. Both guys are showing a good arm and the ability to throw the ball down the field. They're move moving well too. Paxton's got some running in his background from his college days; he took off on a real nice one of the day. I've been really impressed with Geno too. We've seen Geno not quite as much. You can feel the experience from him. He's handling the huddle, the line of scrimmage, adjustments and stuff like that. He has benefited from his years. So he brings a little bit of savvy that's nice to have. We haven't had a guy like that really since Tarvaris (Jackson) that has played quite a bit as a backup, so that's good."
5. Carroll is OK with the offensive line having high expectations.
During OTAs, left tackle Duane Brown noted that Seattle's offensive line, which returns four starters and added former Pro-Bowler Mike Iupati, could be one of the best lines in the league. On Tuesday right tackle Germain Ifedi agreed with his teammate. While Carroll said that isn't necessarily a goal he has discussed with anyone, he's just fine with his players striving to be the best.
"I'm glad that (Brown) is thinking that way," Carroll said. "I've got no problem with him thinking that way. I don't know if we're setting our sights on that yet. Maybe they are in the room, which is great, but we've got to come back and run the football like we did and find more ways to be effective in short-yard situations. But it'll come back to really the pass pro. We want to give Russ a really clean pocket back there so he can do his work. That that'll come along I think as we get together and the guys learn how to make their calls and fit together. Mike Iupati's a very well-versed guard in terms of a pass-rush pickups and the stunts and stuff. He and Duane have been clicking stuff off really nice and you can see that awareness. Of course, Mike's 340 something pounds and D.J (Fluker) is three and a bunch. So those guys are really stout, and if they can keep the pocket really solid at the line of scrimmage, that gives Russ the kind of space that he needs to do a lot of damage. So I'm going to look for that area to be the one that improves the most."
6. C.J. Prosise has had a strong offseason.
After battling injuries through his first three seasons, C.J. Prosise and the Seahawks are hoping that 2019 is the year that the running back can enjoy a healthy season and build off of the tantalizing promise he showed as a rookie. The regular season is still a long way away, but Prosise is off to a good start in 2019 with a healthy and productive few months of work, which on Tuesday again saw him making a number of plays.
"It has been great to see him healthy," Carroll said. "He has been fit throughout, he's really strong, worked out really hard in the offseason to get his strength right, and his weight is up, but he's fit and has really been able to do a little bit of everything. So to add him into the competition is really nice. So we're fired up about C.J. being back."
Photos from Day 1 of the Seattle Seahawks' 2019 mandatory minicamp, part of the team's offseason workout program held on Tuesday, June 11 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.