Rookies QB Russell Wilson and RG J.R. Sweezy will start, but Carroll is hoping to avoid a third, RB Robert Turbin, in case Marshawn Lynch can’t go because of back spasms.
It’s always hard to glean an accurate picture from Pete Carroll regarding the health of the Seahawks. But star running back Marshawn Lynch “looked pretty good” at practice this week and may play in the season opener Sunday at Arizona, but “I can’t call it for you now,” he said at his weekly press conference Wednesday.
Lynch was arrested on a DUI charge his summer in Oakland, and pleaded not guilty. The charge made him potentially subject to a suspension by the NFL, but the typical protocol is for the league to notify a team by Monday if a player is to be suspended. Since the Seahawks have not been told of a suspension, there is no impediment other than health for his participation Sunday. But upon a legal outcome, the league retains the option to suspend.
In practice this week, rookie draftee Robert Turbin has been running with the No. 1 unit while Lynch rests.
“Marshawn needs to get his football legs back,” said Carroll. “We’ll just have to wait and see Friday.”
Carroll was more certain about the return of WR Doug Baldwin, the team’s leading returning receiver who missed most of the preseason with a sore hamstring.
“He looks ready to go,” Carroll said. “He ran full speed. It’s good to have him back.”
However, another wideout, Golden Tate, has a sprained knee. Carroll said Tate will attempt to run in practice Thursday. If he can’t go Sunday, the Seahawks’ thinnest position will likely have at the top three spots Baldwin and returnee Sidney Rice, also coming back from injuries (shoulder surgeries and two concussions) and veteran newcomer Braylon Edwards. Another holdover, Ben Obomanu, will be joined by rookie Charly Martin as backups. The Seahawks earlier cut holdovers Deon Butler, Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette.
The Seahawks already have two rookies as starters on offense — the much-publicized quarterback, Russell Wilson, and the equally surprising J.R. Sweezy, a seventh-round draft pick who spent his college career at Florida North Carolina State as a defensive tackle before making the switch to right guard in a single off-season. He supplants a rookie from a year ago, John Moffitt, who missed a chunk of the preseason after minor elbow surgery.
“J.R. earned it, the old-fashioned way,” Carroll said. “We couldnt believe he learned as fast as he learned, but he did. The challenge is, did he learn enough? We’ll find out. He’s a very aggressive kid, and he has this nature about hitting people.”
For the first time, Carroll explained the decision over the weekend to cut tight end Kellen Winslow, who was expected to play a large role. But Carroll didn’t explain it very well, although across the country, the New England Patriots did — Winslow failed to pass the team’s physical exam Wednesday.
“He did everything we asked of him,” Carroll said, claiming there was no problem with his surgically repaired knee that couldn’t be managed. “He did a great job, in my mind. He always wanted to practice, which I didn’t know about him. He was fighting us to get him in. We had to hold him back, for his sake and our sake.
“He had a serious issue with his knee, but it seemed like we were getting it done.”
Asked about whether the club was reluctant to pay a guaranteed $3.3 million in salary after Monday for a player who is damaged goods, he said, “Everything is a factor.”
Carroll said the acquisition of tight end Evan Moore, cut by Cleveland Sunday and signed Monday, was a bigger deal that most imagined. He’ll be the No. 3 tight end behind starter Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy.
“I’ve known Evan since high school, and played against him at Stanford — he’s a 6-6 guy with wide range who can catch everything,” Carroll said. “Are there differences in their (pro football) histories? Sure. This is a big exchange (Moore replacing Winslow), but it’s not just about this week, but for the long haul.
“We’re one of the youngest teams in the NFL for a reason. We’re going with guy that’s younger (29 vs. 27). I love what Zach and Anthony do, and Moore at No. 3 gives us special dimensions at that spot. He’s different than the other guys and I’m always looking for unique qualities. We never thought he’d be out there for us.”