By Danny O’Neil
The Seahawks are back on the field Tuesday, this time with veterans as Seattle begins its organized team activities with the first of three workouts scheduled for next week.
Here’s four things to watch for:
1. James Carpenter’s conditioning
Don’t write Carpenter off just because the Seahawks didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The last month of 2013 was Carpenter’s best month of football as a Seahawk, according to offensive-line coach Tom Cable. Carpenter is also said to be in the best shape he has been since entering the league in 2011. If Carpenter is going to be the full-time starter at left guard, it’s going to start with a foundation of fitness this offseason. Is he ready to hold up to that workload?
2. Bruce Irvin’s alignment
Irvin was drafted to rush the passer, which is the one thing he wasn’t asked to do very often over the second half of last season. While Irvin is expected to stay at strong-side linebacker in Seattle’s base defense, there’s an opportunity at defensive end in the team’s nickel pass-rush package. Irvin is one of the most athletic players on this entire roster, but he’s playing one of the more anonymous positions on Seattle’s defense. There’s a real danger he’ll be lost in the shuffle again. On the other hand, there’s no specter of a four-game suspension hanging over him to start this season, so maybe it’s a fresh start.
3. Doug Baldwin’s opportunities
Where will Baldwin fit into Seattle’s offense this season? It’s a question both in regard to his role and his contract because while the deadline for signing with another team has passed, Baldwin still hasn’t signed the one-year tender from the Seahawks. Not only that, but he showed last season that he can be more than just a slot receiver as he made the most of his opportunities when split out wide. Golden Tate’s departure to Detroit opens up the possibility that Baldwin could earn more opportunities out there, but that’s not guaranteed. After all, the Seahawks added receivers, not just Chris Matthews from the CFL, but the pair of rookies they drafted – Paul Richardson in the second round and Kevin Norwood in the fourth.
4. Marshawn Lynch’s absence
He didn’t attend the team’s visit to the White House on Wednesday, so what do you think the odds are that he’ll attend the voluntary training session on Tuesday? Then again, he’s just unpredictable enough to do that. Here’s betting Lynch isn’t among those Seahawks present, though, which would mean a good look at everyone’s favorite backup, Christine Michael, last season’s second-round pick who suited up for only four games in a rookie year that amounted to a red-shirt season.