A look ahead to Seahawks minicamp: Rule changes and players to watch
The Seahawks kick off a three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday, and while practice will largely resemble what reporters saw on the field at OTAs, there are a few differences. Here’s a quick primer for Seahawks fans:
What makes minicamp different from OTAs?
As far as practice itself, much of what reporters and hosts see on the field — and what readers and listeners are able to take away afterward — will remain the same. The contact rules from OTAs remain in effect for mandatory minicamp: helmets only, no pads (with the exception of knee and elbow pads) and no live contact, meaning tackling is prohibited and defensive players cannot make a play on the ball.
There are a few minor differences for players, with the most obvious being that minicamp – as opposed to OTAs – is mandatory. This was a bigger story last season when free safety Earl Thomas, then in the midst of a holdout with the team, opted to skip minicamp.
This year, the Seahawks didn’t have any issues with attendance during OTAs, with the few exceptions being “excused” absences for quarterback Geno Smith and cornerback Tre Flowers, both of whom missed the first open practice for family-related reasons. Also in attendance was middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who is the subject of Seattle’s biggest post-Russell Wilson contract negotiation this offseason (more on that here). While Wagner has opted to abstain from participating in on-field drills, it’s unlikely that Seattle would, or could, fine him.
In that same vein, teams have a bit more scheduling power and can now require that players report to the facility at certain times.
The biggest difference listeners and readers will notice will come as a result of media rules: Reporters and on-air hosts will be present at all three days, meaning there will be takeaways Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
A handful of Seahawks have already been ruled out of minicamp.
Safeties Bradley McDougald (knee) and Delano Hill (hip), running back Chris Carson (knee), and defensive tackles Jarran Reed (sports hernia surgery) and Nazair Jones (knee) are expected to be sidelined until August’s training camp. The team didn’t share a timeline for defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder), but he’s widely expected to miss most of training camp and the preseason.
A few other players ended up on the sidelines by the close of OTAs, though because reporters didn’t have a chance to speak with head coach Pete Carroll after the team’s final practice, we won’t have updates on their status for minicamp until at least Tuesday. That list includes rookie safety Marquise Blair and running back Travis Homer.
Rookie wide receiver Gary Jennings (hamstring) was able to get a bit of work in during the team’s final OTA practice, though it’s unclear how fully he’ll be able to practice Tuesday. Though given the open battle at wide receiver and the departure of longtime veteran Doug Baldwin, he’ll certainly draw attention should be be on the field for minicamp.
Who has a chance to steal the spotlight?
Wide receiver, safety and outside linebacker are three of the biggest position battles for the Seahawks this offseason.
With McDougald and Hill out, safeties Tedric Thompson and Ugo Amadi can take advantage of increased reps. Should second-round pick Blair be a participant, he’s obviously a prime candidate to watch. Also competing are Marwin Evans, Jalen Harvey and Shalom Luani.
Rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf stole the show at OTAs, and in all likelihood will remain in the spotlight at minicamp. But with so little contact from defensive backs, a few other receivers have a chance to build on their offseason. Should Jennings play, reporters will have their first extended look at him on the field this offseason (the West Virginia standout missed rookie camp).
The Seahawks drafted two rookie linebackers, Utah’s Cody Barton and Washington’s Ben Burr-Kirven, to compete both in the rotation and on special teams. With a crowded linebacker room, second-year player Shaquem Griffin is among those who will need to carve out a role. 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard said Griffin’s unique speed makes him best suited as a pass-rush contributor, rather than as a regular starting outside linebacker or special teams-only stalwart.