RENTON – Can you keep a secret?
OK. Keep an eye on the Seahawks’ No. 32 on Sunday when Seattle plays its preseason opener against the Chargers.
That’s Chris Carson, the rookie from Oklahoma State, who looks like he might be a stud hoss of a running back. He can squat 600 pounds, he didn’t lose a fumble in his career with the Cowboys and before you go assuming that means he has natural ball security, realize that he fumbled eight times as a junior-college freshman. He spent the few years strengthening his grip by thrusting his hand into five-gallon buckets filled with rice, making a fist at the bottom until he could pop a tennis ball*. That exercise – and keeping the ball close to his body – made him as solid as the FDIC when it comes to carrying the ball.
*Editor’s note: This was intended as a figure of speech more than a literal description of a feat of strength. When Jim Moore pointed out that he thought this description meant Carson had popped a tennis ball at the bottom of a bucket, the author realized the description sounded too literal. Also, it should be clarified that Carson’s ball security does not literally equate to federal banking regulations or the FDIC.
So when he gets the ball on Sunday, make sure you’re paying attention. Just don’t stare too hard. The Seahawks don’t want you tipping off other teams. So while Carson isn’t the first guy who’ll carry the ball, he is part of three different positions that are worth scrutinizing:
1. Running back
Yes, it will be fun to see Eddie Lacy in a Seahawks uniform, Thomas Rawls back to full speed and C.J. Prosise out there, but the question of who will be the fourth and maybe even fifth running back on this team is where things really get interesting. Alex Collins was down to 209 pounds to start training camp and looks great and Mike Davis – whom the Seahawks felt fortunate to claim from the 49ers – returned to practice on Wednesday. Then there’s Carson, who looks like he might be a stud hoss of a running back. Keep that between us, though, because with all these running backs there’s no guarantee he will make the roster, and if he doesn’t, the Seahawks want to be able to sneak that guy onto the practice squad. So keep an eye on Carson, just don’t stare so hard that you tip off other teams.
2. Right cornerback
Jeremy Lane looked great the first week of training camp, but he has been out the past week because of a soft-tissue injury. Rookie Shaquill Griffin has made a heck of an impression while playing with the first-unit defense in Lane’s absence, including an interception during Wednesday’s workout in which he baited Russell Wilson into making a throw he could pick off. With Lane unlikely to play in the preseason game, that leaves Griffin with a heck of an opportunity. Don’t forget about Neiko Thorpe, either. He’s a big-bodied cornerback like those the Seahawks have had a great deal of success with.
3. Right tackle
On Wednesday, Pete Carroll used Wally Pipp to describe Ethan Pocic’s three days of filling in for Germain Ifedi. Maybe the coach was trying to throw the rookie a bone. Perhaps he was trying to motivate Ifedi. Or maybe the obsessive dissection of coach’s press conference lends itself to overreaction. On Friday, Carroll said that Ifedi had his best two days of practice since returning from the injury he suffered when he was punched by Frank Clark. Ifedi was a first-round pick in 2016. He’s a huge man with an unflinching attitude. The question is whether Ifedi’s feet are fast enough to excel on an offensive line that prizes mobility. Pocic looks great, but if he winds up starting at right tackle – a position where he started exactly one game in college – it’s a huge red flag for Ifedi’s development.