Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks returns an interception for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on December 16, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Seattle won 50-17. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - The first day of Organized Team Activites (OTAs) for the Seattle Seahawks turned out to be filled with a myriad of updates regarding the status of the team this offseason.
Tuesday's practice was the first chance the veterans and rookies had a chance to share a practice field for full team practices. During the previous "phase" of offseason workouts, the offense and defense had to be separated and work individually.
One of the more interesting notes to come from the practice was in regards to who would serve as the team's punt returner.
With WR Golden Tate's departure this offseason, the job is up for grabs. Head coach Pete Carroll said that S Earl Thomas would be the man for the job if they were playing games right now.
"If we had to start today Earl Thomas would be the first guy back there, and he’s really excited about that," Carroll said. "He’s a guy that has the most catches for us."
Carroll also said WR Bryan Walters, WR Percy Harvin and CB Richard Sherman would be in consideration. He also said last week that WR Paul Richardson would get a chance as well.
But Thomas is the first man on the depth chart.
"I’ve been waiting on this opportunity. This is what I do. I'm an athlete," Thomas said. "...This is perfect opportunity for me to score a touchdown. I’m an offensive guy at heart. That’s why I don’t try to go out of bounds when I catch interceptions."
The OTAs are voluntary and a handful of players were not in attendance.
QB Tarvaris Jackson, RB Marshawn Lynch, S Kam Chancellor, DE Cliff Avril, DT Andru Pulu and DE Cassius Marsh were absent.
Jackson has been attending to a family matter and is expected back on Wednesday.
Pulu and Marsh are not able to participate as their graduating classes at UCLA and Eastern Washington have not completed classes. They will be able to join workouts once their classes hold graduation.
Several more players sat out with injury issues.
- QB Keith Price was limited as he is dealing with a groin strain.
- WR Sidney Rice is still sidelined as he recovers from his knee injury from last season. He's expected to be ready for training camp.
- CB Tharold Simon is still recovering from the toe injuries that kept him out for all of last season. He is in the last phase of his rehab and is expected to be cleared to run by the end of the week.
- LB Malcolm Smith had ankle surgery to remove "loose bodies" recently. He was wearing a boot on his right foot but is expected to be fine by training camp.
- T Russell Okung also had surgery on his foot this offseason and is still sidelined. He is also expected to be ready for camp.
- DT Jesse Williams had an "accident" recently according to head coach Pete Carroll in which he suffered a laceration on his leg. The injury is nearly healed and he is expected to be back on the field in the near future.
- WR Paul Richardson was limited during team periods but was involved during workouts. He suffered a "banged" shoulder in rookie mini-camp.
- WR Chris Matthews was back to participating after sitting out rookie mini-camp with a hamstring strain.
The waiver of T Garrett Scott officially hit the transaction wire on Monday. He was let go by the team after a physical evaluation discovered a rare heart condition last week. If he clears waivers, he will revert to Seattle's injured list.
In Scott's place, the team signed LB Horace Miller. Miller had participated in the team's rookie mini-camp as a tryout player last week.
The Seahawks also announced Tuesday afternoon that they have signed fourth-round picks WR Kevin Norwood and WR Kevin Pierre-Louis. Per NFL rules, they are four-year contracts.
All nine draft picks are now under contract with the team.
More News & Notes:
- G James Carpenter looked noticeably slimmer on Tuesday. Carroll said Carpenter has lost 15 pounds this offseason and is in much better shape.
"He doesn’t look like the same guy physically," Carroll said. "He’s looked the best he’s ever looked by far right now and with a long ways to go. So we’re really fired up about James and he’s excited about it too."
- WR Percy Harvin is healthy.
After a season mostly lost to a hip injury, Harvin said the injury is in the past.
"This is probably the best I've felt since college," Harvin said.
Added Carroll: "It’s great to have Percy out here practicing with us. The days were so few in preparations for the games that he played in even, to have him throughout all these weeks and he’s working and he’s fitting and he understands the chemistry and communication, he just has tremendous direction to go now."
- RB Christine Michael will get more opportunities this season after essentially having a "redshirt" year as a rookie.
"We have very high expectations for him," Carroll said. "He’s going to get a ton of work and he did great in the preseason last year.
"He’s just a million miles ahead of where he was in terms of understanding what we want scheme wise, pass protection wise, route wise, and we know he’s a natural runner. He’s got explosive talent and we just want to get him fit in."