The Seahawks are back home this week to host the Arizona Cardinals, and on Wednesday they kicked off their practice week with a familiar face back in a Seahawks uniform—linebacker Bruce Irvin, who signed to the practice squad this week. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked about the addition of Irvin and more on Wednesday, and for more than that and a variety of other topics, here are five takeaways from Carroll's press conference:
1. Bruce Irvin will have an effect on young players, and hopefully the pass rush.
Signing Irvin to the practice squad gives the veteran outside linebacker some time to get into game shape rather than either rush him into action or have a player on the 53-man roster who isn't going to contribute immediately, but in theory the Seahawks could elevate him as soon as Sunday if he were ready to play.
"I'm open to that, we will see what is going on," Carroll said. "It would probably be better for him if we didn't, but we will see what happens, we will see how the week goes."
As for why Irvin is back, the Seahawks began looking more seriously into his readiness after Darryl Johnson went on injured reserve with a foot injury, and after an impressive workout, the two sides decided on another reunion. And while the No. 1 hope is that he can add some solid play to Seattle's defense, an added bonus will be the leadership and experience he can pass on to young players like Boye Mafe.
"I don't think there is any doubt that he will have some influence," Carroll said. "I'm really glad to have him back, I've always loved Bruce and what he brings, how hard he plays, how much he cares, his intensity, and all of that. We will see, I'm not asking him to come out here and give speeches and stuff like that—as long as he breaks them down every once in a while, we will be in good shape. He will have an effect. He's been around enough, he cares a tremendous amount about excellence, the style of play, and playing tough, so he will have a good effect."
The goal with the outside linebackers and edge rushers is to have a deep rotation to keep players fresh, and with Johnson going down just after he stepped into the starting lineup, a need for more depth arose.
"We are trying to move those guys and keep those guys fresh," Carroll said. "The way we had seen Bam (Darryl Johnson), we really liked what he had done, so we are filling that void there without having him in the rotation."
As an added bonus, Irvin comes to Seattle familiar with a lot of what the Seahawks are doing defensively having finished last season in Chicago where Sean Desai, now Seattle's associate head coach-defense, was the defensive coordinator.
"He played in the Chicago scheme with Sean, so he's already been introduced to it," Carroll said. "He's a good edge football player, that's what he has always been best at. It fits really well with his makeup. We are going to play him a lot and try to use his instincts like we do with Uchenna (Nwosu) where we really give him a lot of freedom and see if he can make good choices at the right time to take shots and to do the things that can make that position difficult. Uchenna has had a terrific start to the season. A lot of that has to do with his instincts, his savvy, and his willingness to take a chance at stuff once in a while. I don't want to explain it more than that, but I'm anxious to see how Bruce does with us in this."
2. The Seahawks are rooting for a later kickoff Sunday.
If the Mariners playoff series with the Astros goes to a Game 4, which would be played at T-Mobile Park on Sunday at 12:07, then kickoff for the Seahawks' Week 6 game against Arizona would move back to 2:30 p.m.
Carroll is hoping to see that happen, not because he actually favors the later kickoff time, but because like the rest of Seattle, he's caught up in the Mariners' postseason run and wants to see them extend the series and their season.
"Let's hope it gets moved back," Carroll said. "What a game last night, huh? What an unbelievable lesson for our guys about you just keep hanging and holding up the fort to give yourself a chance until the last pitch. That was an amazing game. It was a great game by the Mariners last night too, it's just that the other guys came through."
3. The pass rush rotation is still a work in progress, and Carroll is expecting to see improvement soon.
Free-agent signing Uchenna Nwosu has been great so far this season, and has arguably been Seattle's best defensive player through five games, but as an overall group, Seattle's pass rush hasn't been as productive as the Seahawks might hope. Carroll is optimistic, however, that things will improve as players settle into their roles and the rotation gets deeper, keeping players fresh.
"We've been in rotation because nobody has really dominated the position where we could have them on the field, except for Uchenna," Carroll said. "Uchenna is playing a ton, I wish we could rotate him more, and we are trying to. He's stacking up a bunch of plays right now, but he has been really good in rush, he's been really good in the running game, he's a terrific leader on the field, and all of that. We are still working it and it's giving (Boye) Mafe a chance to get going. He's getting off to a good start now. He's going to play again this week and will get a lot of reps. There is so much ahead of him and he's at the other end of the spectrum of the savvy world that we are talking about, but it's coming. He's really talented, so we are trying to get where we can feature our guys as rush guys. You see that is what we are doing with Darrell (Taylor), we are trying to get him really quality rushes when he gets his chance because he can be dynamic for us there, so we want to not wear him down, and lessen the impact, hopefully. I don't have a settled opinion on it yet, I think these guys are still growing with it. It's new for some of our guys, so we can expect to see real improvement."
4. Geno Smith has been really good throwing on the move.
In Sunday's game against New Orleans, three of Geno Smith's best throws came when the quarterback either left the pocket or moved within it. There were two touchdowns, a 35-yard touchdown on which Smith climbed the pocket before throwing a strike to Tyler Lockett, and a 50-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf that came after Smith scrambled to his left then hit Metcalf in stride for Seattle's longest offensive play of the game. And perhaps most impressive was a throw to Noah Fant that was a designed bootleg, a play that saw Smith roll to his left before making a preposterously good throw that dropped just over the coverage and into Fant's hands before the tight end got to the sideline. And if not for a questionable holding call on Charles Cross, the Smith would have had another scramble-drill touchdown to Metcalf in the second half.
"He's been throwing like that," Carroll said. "It's fantastic that it is coming out in the game, and they are huge plays. He had two of them, two great plays, and the throw to Fant, that wasn't a scramble, that was a design. Still, that ability, Geno can throw everything. He can throw it all and we've always seen that. He's always had a marvelous range of, through the motions and what he can do with the football. But it's really exciting to see it happen in the game so naturally and so comfortably for him."
5. Tariq Woolen's receiver background is helping him make plays at cornerback.
Rookie Tariq Woolen, much like another college receiver turned cornerback, Richard Sherman, is using the skills learned at his former position to make plays at his current one. Woolen has three interceptions in as many games, including a pick-six against Detroit, and at least some of that playmaking ability stems from what he learned playing receiver at UTSA.
"It's an enormous advantage," Carroll said. "I've noticed it before with other guys. The best example is Richard. Richard was a receiver. If you think about it, why does that help you? Well, if you've run a bunch of routes in your lifetime and you know what the rhythms are making the breaks and what it takes to get down and get out of your stem of the route, the way you look at stuff, the formations. All of the offensive background that you have that gives you maybe a hint of what is going on, that's the difference. They have more advanced information that once in a while triggers, 'I know exactly what this route is' as it is happening. So, Sherm did that throughout his career and a lot of guys have. It's a tremendous asset to have in your background. I noticed it in Tariq early in camp. He had a couple stems that came off routes and he went and covered the route. I went immediately, 'What happened out there?' (He said), 'I knew he was running this route.' That's what some guys use to their advantage. They can tell and when they can tell, they don't have to wait for the guy to break and then go to the route. 'Oh, it's an out route.' It's like 'Yeah, this is the route that I thought it was.' And that's where guys can gain an advantage.
"Let's just stay with Sherm because he likes me talking about him. Sherm played best when he could see the quarterback and see the other receivers when he was coming off the line of scrimmage because he could use all of that information to tell him what might likely happen outside. That's a zone mentality. A guy uses the quarterback set up, the depth of his drop, the release of the inside receiver, as well as the split and the release. All of those things factor in for the guys that can use that kind of information. Some guys don't have that ability. They don't have that instinct and they play more strict to the guy. But when you find a guy like that, that's a guy that has a chance to be a playmaker. And so, we are learning about Tariq right now. He's doing some pretty good stuff."
The Seahawks practiced at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton on October 12, 2022. Seahawks practice photos are presented by Gatorade.