BY Art Thiel 06:56PM 08/07/2017

Thiel: Seahawks’ McDowell out ‘quite a while’

Rookie DE Malik McDowell has “serious” injuries from his accident that will keep him out “quite a while,” Pete Carroll said. Meanwhile, Ifedi and Clark are nearing returns to practice.

Frank Clark (55) and Germain Ifedi (76) were on the field at Monday’s scrimmage, but well out of handshake range. / Art Thiel, Sportspress Northwest

In terms of personnel choices, the Seahawks have always done better at bottom of the draft, especially among undrafted players. But the top end? It really hasn’t looked worse than this first week in training camp.

DT Malik McDowell (2017’s 35th pick), RT Germain Ifedi (No. 31 in 2016) and DE Frank Clark (63rd in 2015) all sat out Monday’s annual team scrimmage — the first 11-on-11, game-conditions practice, albeit no tackling — under dubious circumstances.

The news on McDowell was not good.

Answering questions, coach Pete Carroll said the rookie from Michigan State had “a serious accident” with multiple injuries including (at least) a concussion after an incident with an ATV near his hometown of Detroit. McDowell won’t be around for the regular season opener in about a month, maybe much longer.

He’s already back home resting after a couple of days in Seattle where team doctors examined him for the first time after the accident a few weeks earlier that went undisclosed until the opening of camp eight days ago.

“He’s going to need quite a while,” Carroll said, “We’ll have to wait it out. We’ll just have to see how he progresses. We’re not looking for him to get back for the first of the season.”

Carroll said the injuries were not career-threatening but didn’t know whether McDowell will play this season. He said he talked with McDowell and understood what happened, but was evasive on specifics, citing a request for privacy from the player’s family.

“He just turned 21,” Carroll said. “We’ve just got to wait on him. He’s a real young kid so he has plenty of time to get well. We have to make sure and take care.

“He can’t do anything as far as physical workouts. It’s frustrating for him. He feels fine. Certainly there’s a concussion involved . . .” but then Carroll declined to elaborate further.

The fact that doctors permitted McDowell to fly in a pressurized airliner cabin militates against a skull fracture, but Carroll was scant with details.

McDowell was seen as likely for significant minutes as a rookie because the Seahawks sought to replicate the D-line depth that was integral in the 2013 season that led to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.

Clark, another member of the D-line, was more fortunate. He will be back Wednesday or Thursday, according to Carroll, who called Clark’s four-day absence “coach’s discretion” after he punched out a helmet-less Ifedi during a practice melee Thursday.

Both were on the field Monday, Ifedi in shoulder pads and helmet, Clark without. But neither played, although Ifedi for first time since being struck in the face participated in pre-scrimmage individual drills.

In earlier practices, Clark showed up with a knee brace, but not Monday. Carroll said Clark has “a little knee thing he’s working on to make sure he’s OK. We know what’s going on. That was not really the issue.”

The knee injury didn’t occur during the fight, Carroll said. He also avoided using the word suspension, saying only that once Clark is back, “we’re moving on from here.”

In Ifedi’s temporary absence, right tackle has been filled by a rookie, second-round draft choice Ethan Pocic of Louisiana State. While the first real NFL contact awaits Sunday’s exhibition opener in Los Angeles against the Chargers, Pocic has a chance to make impressions at a spot that is less than guaranteed to Ifedi, who played right guard in his first year.

“It’s really good to get those reps,” said Pocic (6-6, 309). “I’m just trying to make the most out of them.”

If Pocic takes real advantage, the Seahawks could have a high pick in a position to contribute. What a novelty.

Backup QBs not doing much

While QB Russell Wilson continued his improved passing, completing 15 of 18 passes for two touchdowns in the Monday scrimmage, the backup candidates, incumbent Trevone Boykin and newcomer vet Austin Davis, both were erratic.

Boykin was six for 11 and one interception in three drives, while Davis was eight of 13 with a pick.

Afterward, Carroll was almost as evasive about the competition as he was about McDowell’s injuries.

“I think we are just in the middle of it, I don’t know — I say that when I don’t know what to tell you,” he said. “Both guys have done some really good things.  They are real different.

“We have to step back from it and get some games under our belt and (see) what it looks like when we are playing with Austin and with Trevone. They both have had days where they win the day and that kind of stuff.  Russell is on fire right now, so it’s hard for them to catch him. But still they have been making plays. I’m really anxious to see how they looked today.”


YourThoughts

  • Divine intervention is needed for the O-Line!

    • Steed

      Maybe Bette Midler can visit training camp.

      • art thiel

        I’d prefer Andy Devine, but he’s no longer in shape to make it.

  • Bruce McDermott

    Pretty sure that the fact that the docs let Malik fly in a pressurized cabin MILITATES against a skull fracture…

    Reading between the lines I am increasingly pessimistic about Ifedi being any good as a RT this year. Clark has undeniable talent, on the other hand, so if he can keep the lid on his temper….MacDowell is a complete unknown and will remain so unless or until he gets on the field. So….one guy leaning toward bust; one guy who can be great, IF; and another guy we have no idea about…

    • art thiel

      At the time of their drafts, all three players were considered over-reaches by draftniks who believed that the talent was there, but other red flags diminished their values. Then again, same was said of Wilson, Wagner, etc. Carroll has always believed his player development can overcome most character/motivation flaws, and he’s been right most of the time. But Clark and McDowell represent potentially costly misreads. The technical term is the full Harvinator.

      As a grouchy grammarian, I lay at your feet, bleeding.

      • Bruce McDermott

        Actually, I think you lie at my feet. Or you lay yourself at my feet, if you must :)

        I remain optimistic that Clark is going to pan out. His talent is undeniable and his effort level is freakish. The player I’m beginning to zone in on as disappointing for a high draft choice is Ifedi. I suspect his feet, at any position. He bends and lunges too much. If he can lock on and drive, he’s pretty good in the run game. But it ain’t all runs, and getting to the lock position is a challenge for him when runs are called. Note that this latest break he’s been taking after Clark decked him has given Pocic some extended time at RT. Would not be surprised if it ends up that way this season, eventually…

        • art thiel

          Good point about Ifedi and the lunge. He was too easy to beat last season. Pocic is a good athlete and sound technically. Coaches are impressed with his swift pickup of the plan. They wanted him so much pre-draft that they kept Cable away from his workouts to avoid tipping Seattle’s hand.

  • Joe_Fan

    I wonder if McDowell has some sort of neck injury?

    • art thiel

      We’re all wondering many things. Carroll’s evasiveness only deepens the mystery.

  • Paul Harmening

    Back up QB’s not progressing and OL hopefully (big if) somewhat better than last year, makes me wonder what Pete is thinking. Playing craps again, betting 7’s on the come?

    • art thiel

      He has reason to be more confident about the OL — just more experienced talent. But backup QB needs a re-think. Boykin has yet to show progress, and he still prefers hanging out like a college frat rat, judging by his problems with authority.

  • WestCoastBias79

    Granted, we don’t know how much money he’s asking for, but if it’s reasonable, sign Colin Kaepernick. Austin Davis is already a proven commodity of awful. Boykin is still an unknown. Kaepernick has starting talent.

    • art thiel

      My guess is Kap will wait into the season to get a shot at a starting job, although being with a supportive team like the Seahawks could end up counting for a lot.

      • WestCoastBias79

        You’re probably right, but I don’t see that helping his stock. I cannot think of any QB jumping into a system without some training camp that hasn’t been a train wreck.

        The frustrating thing is that someone will get hurt, then that team will sign him in Week 4, he’ll be mediocre, and every “HE’S WASN’T SIGNED BECAUSE HE SUCKS IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE BLAH BLAH!” hot taker will feel vindicated. Meanwhile the likes of Tom Savage and Blake Bortles will be heaving INT’s en masse.

  • John M

    Ah the humanness of it all, just when you thought those little duckies were lined up pretty straight. I’m beginning to hate training camp. There’s a reason why coaches and GM’s are paid so well. Until they go mad like Al Davis. History screams that JS should trade down to around the fourth round and have 18 picks from there to the end.

    • art thiel

      If you ever watch ducklings, the straight line lasts about three steps. Just as with people.

  • Bayview Herb

    Kaepernick sowed what he did. Now he is reaping the results. Public opinion is very much against anti-American sentiment. Football an entertainment venue. The public has judged his behavior and has turned hands down.

    • wabubba67

      So… exercising his 1st Amendment rights is “Anti-American”? Interesting.

      • Bayview Herb

        No, but having said that, the public also has that same right. Football is entertainment. If enough people resent the message, it will impact the profitability of that team. Most teams shun any and all controversy. He made his bed now he has to ly in it.