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What to expect with Jamal Adams returning to Seahawks’ defense

Illness last week prevented Jamal Adams from returning from his groin strain. (Getty)

After five long weeks, the Seahawks will finally get the centerpiece of their offseason back on the field.

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Safety Jamal Adams, who Seattle paid a hefty price to pry from the New York Jets in a July trade, has a clear path to return in Sunday’s game in Buffalo against the AFC East-leading Bills.

Adams has been out of action since suffering a groin strain against Dallas in Week 3, as while he was on track to at least challenge to play last Sunday against San Francisco, an illness during the week prevented him from getting enough work in practice leading up to the game.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll sounded plenty optimistic about the status of the two-time Pro Bowler and 2019 first-team All-Pro when talking to 710 ESPN Seattle on Monday.

“He’s going to go full practice this week and get back into action,” Carroll told Danny and Gallant during the weekly Pete Carroll Show. “… We’ll be really excited to have him back. He is so pumped up to get back. He’s just dying to get out there with the fellas, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

After the long layoff, what should be expected in Adams’ return? Jake Heaps tackled that Tuesday on Tom, Jake and Stacy.

“With Jamal Adams being pumped up and ready to go and anxious to get out there, expect to see Jamal Adams play like Jamal Adams,” Heaps said. “I don’t think this is a situation where you’re going to see him have any restriction in his ability to play the game. They were very cautious with him throughout the entire process and I think that’s why you have seen him return later than what you were anticipating… After the bye week, that’s what everybody thought.”

By taking it slow with Adams since the injury, Heaps believes the Seahawks have put him in a good spot to hit the ground running in Buffalo.

“Jamal Adams is a guy, to me, that they will not baby throughout the process, they will not put him necessarily on a pitch count on gameday. They will just be making sure that they do everything they can to keep him healthy during the week of practice so that he can go out there and be himself.”

Adams was Seattle’s most noticeable player on defense in the first three weeks of the season. His two sacks are still tied for the team lead (with three other players), and he also has a pass defensed, 23 combined tackles (14 solo), three tackles for loss and five QB hits.

The ripple effect for Seahawks’ secondary

While the absence of Adams has certainly been felt, Seattle has received surprisingly effective play out of his replacement at safety, Ryan Neal. Following Adams’ injury, Neal responded with an interception against Dallas and another the following week at Miami. He also has four passes defensed, 32 combined tackles (26 solo) and three TFL in his five games.

Heaps’ co-host Stacy Rost wondered if a dime package could be used to keep Neal in the mix with Adams returning to his normal spot.

“They haven’t done (dime packages) very often. They did it at the beginning of the year,” Heaps responded. “(Safety) Lano Hill (who is on injured reserve with a back injury) was the main featured piece of that dime package. I don’t know, maybe they would put Ryan Neal in that situation potentially. I could see them doing that.”

Neal isn’t the only lesser-known member of the secondary who has surprised people with his play, however. Ugo Amadi, who missed the Week 8 game with a hamstring injury, and D.J. Reed, who impressed in his 2020 debut stepping in for Amadi after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, both appear to be strong options at nickel cornerback.

“Now you have a legitimate competition at nickel,” Heaps said. “… Doesn’t seem like Ugo’s going to come back this week, but down the line… you may see one play that dime package while the other one plays nickel. The competition is definitely there in terms of playing time. They’ve become more deep in the secondary and that’s a positive thing.”

You can hear Heaps’ full comments in the Four-Down Territory segment of Tuesday’s Tom, Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

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