Seahawks camp day 12: Russell Wilson will play Sunday, defense wins, J.T. Barrett arrives

Their coach is making it clear Russell Wilson, Duane Brown and fellow veterans who sat out the Seahawks’ first preseason game will play in the second one.

“I’m really fired up for this game now, for those guys to get their first shot,” coach Pete Carroll said Sunday of Seattle’s second exhibition, next Sunday Aug. 18 at Minnesota.

“I think guys like Duane Brown, and I know Russ those guys, they’re dying to get out. They want to get out there and play.”

The way the 12th practice of training camp went, three days after he watched Geno Smith (not as well) and Paxton Lynch (better) play for him in a 22-14 exhibition win over Denver, Wilson should be excited to play someone else other than his defense.

The Seahawks’ franchise quarterback ran 15 plays in red-zone scrimmaging Sunday. Wilson and the offense scored on just two of those 15 plays, most of which were inside the 10-yard line. Usually, Wilson’s offense scores on about every other play inside the 10 in practices.

The two scores: a Wilson throw to the back line of the end zone that Malik Turner leaped to catch over cornerback Jeremy Boykins, and Wilson zipping his best throw of he period to rookie DK Metcalf in the slot. Metcalf beat cornerback Simeon Thomas inside and late-arriving rookie safety Ugo Amadi on a seam route to the end zone.

Wilson got sacked by linebacker Mychal Kendricks when he couldn’t find anyone open amid the defense’s coverage in the tighter, red-zone space. Then he threw late over the middle and safety Shalom Luani stepped in front of rookie receiver Gary Jennings to intercept one of Wilson’s throws in the back of the end zone.

The red-zone scrimmage began with Carroll having loud crowd noise pumped in the field’s sound system, over the already-blaring rap music. That’s in preparation for Sunday’s road game inside Minnesota’s dome. On the first play with the artificial crowd noise, Wilson was using hand signals to call the play, then clapped his hands repeatedly for a silent snap count. Wide receiver Jaron Brown ran an inside route at the goal line. The usually on-page-and-on-target Wilson threw outside to no one incomplete.

The offense continued to look disjointed with the noise over the first three plays. So the Seahawks cut off the crowd noise and went back to just the music.

Carroll said he liked his new approach this preseason of having Wilson not play in the first preseason game for the first time since Carroll drafted him in 2012.

Duane Brown, the left tackle, right guard D.J. Fluker, running back Chris Carson, wide receiver Tyler Lockett, safety Bradley McDougald, linebacker K.J. Wright plus defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Poona Ford also missed the game while healthy.

“I like it. I’m glad we made it through it (without an injury to a starter),” Carroll said. “We had a mixture of guys play on both sides. I think helped us awareness-wise and leadership-wise on the field. But the fact that we made it through it, I’m really fired up for this game now for those guys to get their first shot, and they are, too. ...

“So, not so bad.”

BARRETT PRACTICES: Former Ohio State record-setting quarterback J.T. Barrett practiced one day after signing a free-agent contract with the Seahawks. He did only position drills. Wilson and Lynch took all the snaps in team scrimmaging.

“It’s always an opportunity. And it’s a great opportunity here,” said Barrett, who spent his first two years in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.

Barrett is here because Smith had a cyst removed from his knee on Friday. Smith started for Wilson and was 3 for 9 passing with two sacks partly against Von Miller and Denver’s starters Thursday. Smith was on the field but only watching practice Sunday.

Carroll did not rule out Smith from playing at Minnesota this weekend.

“He’s out here moving around already,” Carroll said.

“It wasn’t a ligament or cartilage repair. This was something else; he had a little cyst in there that they had to work out. They got it. His recovery could be even before the next game, which is great. We’ll see. It’s probably pushing it.

“He’s determined to come back and play against Minnesota.”

The ball zipped out of Barrett’s hand as he threw to Metcalf and other receivers.

He said he’s excited for the challenge of learning Seattle’s offense that asks the quarterback to move far more than the Saints’ asked theirs to. That is the difference between having Wilson and 40-year-old Drew Brees, the two-time NFL offensive player of the year and Super Bowl 44 MVP.

I asked Barrett what he learned from Brees in New Orleans.

“How much time you got?” Barrett said, chuckling.

Barrett mentioned Brees’ precise preparation and exacting, daily routine.

“J.T. is a guy who we’ve always been aware of. We’ve watched him and known that he’s out there and looked for opportunities maybe to get a shot,” Carroll said. “Not knowing what’s going to happen with Geno for this week, we needed insurance going through the week, for one, and into the game as well. So we’ll see what happens. He’s played in the big time. He’s a leader. He’s real smart. He’s got a strong-enough arm. I just like the kind of guy that he is. He’s a QB.

“He’ll jump in here and we’ll see what he can do. We’ll check him out.”

J.T. Barrett (6), on his first day of practice with the Seahawks, joins Russell Wilson (3) and Paxton Lynch (2) for drills on Sunday. It was the 12th practice of training camp. Gregg Bell/The News Tribune

ANSAH UPDATE: Top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah continues to work on his conditioning on side fields. The 30-year-old defensive end has yet to practice with the Seahawks since they signed him in May to a one-year contract following season- and tenure-ending shoulder surgery with the Detroit Lions.

“He’s in good shape now. His strength is almost back to where it needs to be,” Carroll said of Ansah and his shoulder.

“He’s up scheme-wise on what’s going on. We just got to get him to playing football again,. That won’t happen for a bit. Again, we’re going to take our time, make sure he’s secure when he comes back.”

Don’t expect Ansah to play in any of the three remaining preseason games; the last one is Aug. 29 against Oakland. Carroll said the team hopes Ansah can practice “a couple weeks” before the regular season begins.

Seattle’s third preseason game is Aug. 24 at the Los Angeles Chargers. The Seahawks’ first scheduled practice after that exhibition is Aug. 27, less than two weeks before the opener.

“Everybody needs to practice in order to get ready but Ziggy’s a really good ball player,” Carroll said. “He’s played a lot of football. He’s done all of the things we’ve asked him to do in our scheme. He’s really an excellent fit for us, as long as he’s up mentally and communication-wise. And we can see that in the walk-through (practices). We know he’s making progress towards being ready.

“It’s that last bit of shucking the blocks, getting your leverage right, getting your pads down and all that kind of stuff and his timing on his pass rush. That will come when he gets back on the practice field going. Hopefully a couple weeks before the game, he’ll be back with us working and that should be enough.”

Ansah’s contract can be worth up to $9 million. One-third of that potential pay is in per-game bonuses. That the team’s hedge against him not being ready for the regular season.

LYNCH’S ACCURACY: Lynch continues to excel with accurate throws when his feet are set. When his feet are moving, the Broncos’ former first-round pick is still throwing the ball all over the lot.

He had to move to his right on his first pass attempt Thursday in the preseason game. He spiked that pass into the ground, yards in front of his intended receiver in the right flat. He then completed seven of his next eight throws. Lynch played the entire second half against the Broncos’ reserves and finished 11 for 15 for 109 yards. He led the Seahawks to their two touchdowns against Denver. He also ran for 38 yards on four scrambles, including an 18-yard one and a spin off a tackle at the goal line for a score.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Paxton Lynch (2) celebrates after a scrambling touchdown during the fourth quarter. The Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos in a NFL preseason game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Joshua Bessex

“Geno went against their best guys and he had a couple edge rushers (to deal with) that are pretty noted,” Carroll said. “He dealt with a little more pressure.

“Paxton, on the other side of it, just really flowed well in the game. He made good decisions. He pulled the ball down and ran a couple times really well. Shows you his movement for a 6-7 guy. It’s unique. It’s what made him a first-rounder. He made some great throws, also. He had a really good first game. I was really fired up for him.

“That’s the best he’s looked.”

One play Sunday was not. Lynch rolled right to escape pressure and threw on the run. The ball drifted deep aimlessly. DeShawn Shead tipped the ball to fellow safely Marquise Blair for an interception.

FORD TOUGH: Ford seems entrenched for now as a starting defensive tackle. He was there again Sunday.

Last year’s run-stopping specialist is vying for every-down status, especially because Reed will be suspended for the first six games of the regular season starting with the opener Sept. 8 against Cincinnati.

NOT PRACTICING: The list of those not practicing grew on the first work day since the game: Linebackers Bobby Wagner (recovering from knee therapy) and Shaquem Griffin (bruised knee), tight end Jacob Hollister (groin, Carroll hopes to have him for Sunday’s game), running backs J.D. McKissic (foot, could return any day, the coach said) and C.J. Prosise (hip, may be able to play at Minnesota), defensive tackle Nazair Jones, rookie running back Travis Homer, wide receiver Amara Darboh (expected to play Sunday), linebacker Justin Currie, roolie safelty Jalen Harvey and starting guard Mike Iupati.

Iupati has been out since the first days of training camp two weeks ago. Carroll has said he has a mild foot sprain.

But nothing is mild about the health of 32-year-old 10-year veteran who has played in only 11 games the last two seasons and hasn’t played a full season since 2012, with San Francisco.

“It’s just a matter of a week or so, one way or the other,” Carroll said. “We’re not going to push him back until he’s really ready. He had a little trouble with his foot before, it’s a different sprain, but we just want to make sure when he’s back.”

Seahawks offensive tackle George Fant reacts in pain after getting his ankle rolled up on during the preseason opener against Denver on Aug. 8 at CenturyLink Field. Fant got a second-degree sprained ankle on the play. Joshua Bessex/The News Tribune

FANT FOR THE OPENER?: Offensive tackle George Fant was wearing a walking boot over the ankle he sprained against Denver.

“It’s, like I said, legit. It’s like a second-degree type of sprain. It’s going to take him a few weeks we feel really comfortable with what George can do,” Carroll said.

“It’ll take weeks to get that done, but he’ll be shooting to get back for the opener.”

If so, the Seahawks will not need to convert another offensive lineman to extra, blocking tight end. Fant excelled in that role last season for the Seahawks, the NFL’s top rushing offense in 2018.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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