New-look Seahawks secondary seems set for opener in Denver
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — It's finally game week and Earl Thomas' contentious holdout from the Seattle Seahawks continued on Monday, meaning the questions about their mostly unproven secondary remain the same on the cusp of the regular season beginning.
The position group that's been the most recognizable on the Seahawks' roster will be markedly different when they take the field in Denver on Sunday.
Richard Sherman is in San Francisco. Kam Chancellor won't play this year because of last season's neck injury that likely will end his career. Thomas is away while unhappy with his contract situation, and Byron Maxwell, the last of Seattle's veterans that was around during training camp, was placed on season-ending injured reserve.
That will leave Shaquill Griffin and Dontae Johnson as the expected starting cornerbacks, and Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald as the likely starting safeties for the opener.
And while that collection has talent and could end up being very good for Seattle, for most non-Seahawks fans it may draw a collective, "Who?"
Seattle coach Pete Carroll seemed to answer the biggest lingering question by saying Thompson is expected to be ready to start at free safety. Thompson had been the starter for most of training camp, but suffered a shoulder stringer and rib injury in the third preseason game against Minnesota and sat out the final week of the preseason.
"He practiced today a little on a limited basis but he is ready to go," Carroll said.
Johnson's action in the preseason was also limited. He played only the final two weeks, but Seattle saw enough to feel comfortable with him as the expected starter. Their decision was made easier when Maxwell couldn't get healthy.
"He was banged up for a while and really didn't have a chance to show it but once he did he's showed us he has picked everything up, he has bought into the style we want him to play," Carroll said of Johnson. "He's been really consistent. He's a big, good-looking kid out there, really on the spot, and has given us the confidence to go ahead and put him where we have."
Seattle's cornerback depth could be a concern if there's another injury. Rookie Tre Flowers has impressed during training camp but is making the switch from safety. Nickel cornerback Justin Coleman has proven to be a smart acquisition before the start of last season but plays a specialized position.
Seattle did address some of its safety depth by acquiring Shalom Luani from Oakland for a seventh-round pick over the weekend. And perhaps there's a glimmer of hope regarding Thomas. Asked Monday if there had been any additional contact with Thomas, Carroll said there was "nothing to report," which was a minor upgrade from his blanket "no" the last time he was asked about his missing safety.
CUT DAY: Two of the notable moves Seattle made to reach the 53-man roster limit were placing tight end Ed Dickson on the non-football injury list and activating defensive end Dion Jordan from the physically unable to perform list.
Carroll said he's not ruling out the idea of Jordan playing against the Broncos even though this is his first week of practice. Whenever Jordan returns it'll be a boost to Seattle's pass rush.
"He's close. We'll see. I'm not going to be opposed to playing him this weekend," Carroll said.
Dickson missed all of training camp with a variety of leg muscle injuries. Carroll said there were three different issues that kept Dickson out, but the time he's required to be out by being on the NFI list should allow him to get healthy and contribute later in the season.
NOTES: Seattle placed RB J.D. McKissic on injured reserve Monday and claimed linebacker Jermaine Grace off waivers. McKissic has been out following foot surgery, but by being placed on injured reserve after the 53-man roster was set, he can be activated following the eighth game of the season. Grace, who was in camp with Cleveland, was waived by the Browns on Sunday and gives Seattle depth at weak-side linebacker with K.J. Wright still recovering from knee surgery last week.
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