Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints is upended after a reception against Walter Thurmond #28 of the Seattle Seahawks at Louisiana Superdome on November 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - One of the more interesting notes from Sunday's practice on the sunny shores of Lake Washington was the presence of CB Walter Thurmond.
Or maybe more interesting, the absence of CB Antoine Winfield.
Thurmond took most of the snaps with the first-team nickel defense while Winfield predominantly stood watch on the sidelines. Thurmond is finally healthy for the first time in three seasons with the team and appears ready to finally live up to his ability.
"This is going to be a real battle between him and Antoine at that spot," Carroll said. "Antoine is a gifted football player. With Walter being healthy as he has been, it really has been a great boost for us to see him and for his confidence to be up is great to see. He’s been playing well."
Carroll said it isn't a reflection on what Winfield has given them so far. He's been very pleased with Winfield as well.
"He’s been terrific," Carroll said. "He just knows what’s going on, just like you would think. Makes the most of his plays, he’s been in a great position, and takes away a lot of routes."
It should be one of the more intriguing battles to watch as the rest of the preseason plays out.
WR Early Doucet worked in for the first time since agreeing to a deal with Seattle on Friday. Doucet saw a limited number of reps with the second- and third-team offenses. He appeared to catch the ball well but it will still be a while before knowing how he fits in.
"We couldn’t tell much today, but he did catch the ball well," Carroll said. "The thing that I like about him is how guys who have played against him or who have been on his team talk about his toughness and his competitiveness. That part of his makeup will fit right in so we’ll see what happens.
With DE Cliff Avril, DE Chris Clemons and DE Bruce Irvin all sidelined Sunday, LB Mike Morgan took the majority of first-team reps at the LEO position. LB Malcolm Smith and LB O'Brien Schofield rotated with the first-team defense at strong-side linebacker.
WR Golden Tate collided with defenders on a crossing route and was down on the field briefly before walking off. After being attended to by the trainers he hopped up and was able to return to practice.
DT Jaye Howard handled C Lemuel Jeanpierre twice in one-on-one pass rush drills. DT Jesse Williams also ripped past G John Moffitt. Carroll said Williams really showed up during the team's scrimmage on Friday.
Carroll also described what he will be looking to see during Thursday's preseason opener in San Diego. We'll just let Carroll take it from here...
"Oh boy there’s a lot. I’m wondering if we’re going to tackle anybody, if we’re going to block anybody, the first time out you just don’t know. With the way we practice I don’t think that we’ll have any problems. We practice really hard and the guys have been physical at the line of scrimmage, but it still gets down to getting your tackling squared away and going, just playing football. We haven’t played in a game in a long time. That’s the first thing.
"It’s mostly individual players right now, it’s not scheme or the tactics of it, it’s the guys and for us to see where they fit. The three-techniques are really important, and all of those guys are going to play. I’ve told you that it’s going to take us all the way through preseason to figure that out I think. All of those guys will get play time. I also want to see how we are doing with our rush game. I want to see 97 (Jordan Hill) inside and Michael Bennett inside so we’ll see what they do. It’s important for Jordan to see where he can add to us, and it’s going to be important to see the young running backs and to see where they fit in because that’s going to be a really heated competition.
"We want to get Luke (Willson) going to see how he goes, he’s had a great camp, and he’s looked like he could fit in. I mean I could just go on because it goes all the way across the board. It’s a bunch of individual guys that we need to see to figure out where they stand. And we need to start evaluating the quarterback situation too, that’s another one for those guys. It’ll be cool, we’ll see what happens."
The number of total players sidelined decreased pretty significantly as the Seahawks returned to practice on Sunday.
Seven players remain on the PUP and NFI lists for Seattle. WR Percy Harvin (hip), DE Chris Clemons (knee), DT Greg Scruggs (knee), CB Tharold Simon (foot), TE Zach Miller (foot) and RB Robert Turbin (foot) remain on the physically unable to perform list. LB Korey Toomer (knee) remains on the non-football injury list.
Carroll did say that Turbin has passed his physical and will be able to practice with the team on Monday. Turbin will also take part in the team's walkthrough practice Sunday afternoon. He has been sidelined since mini-camp in June with a foot ailment.
DE Cliff Avril, CB Ron Parker and TE Darren Fells were sidelined with hamstring strains. T Michael Bowie was back to full participation in practice after dealing with a hamstring issue of his own.
WR Stephen Williams sat out with a sore neck after the collision he had with S Winston Guy during Friday's scrimmage. TE Michael Palmer and DE Bruce Irvin each were sidelined with sore groins. Carroll said he doesn't think Irvin will play Thursday night in San Diego.
DE Cliff Avril remains day-to-day with a sore hamstring. Carroll said Avril probably won't play Thursday as he's missed too much practice time. FB Michael Robinson sat out with a sore ankle.
CB Jeremy Lane (foot), DT Michael Brooks (undisclosed), LB Kyle Knox (undisclosed), K Carson Wiggs (undisclosed), WR Doug Baldwin (soreness) and S Kam Chancellor (ankle) all returned to practice.