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Seahawks Notebook: Carroll on Geno Smith, CBs without Tre Flowers

Oct 13, 2021, 2:49 PM
Seahawks Tre Flowers...
The Seahawks waived CB Tre Flowers after four years with the team. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The 2-3 Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh this weekend to take on the 2-3 Steelers on Sunday Night Football.

Why Seahawks’ running game is especially critical now

The Seahawks are in an interesting spot with injuries at key positions like quarterback as well as major defensive struggles.

Head coach Pete Carroll provided some thoughts and updates on the team during his Wednesday press conference.

Here’s a bit of what Carroll had to say.

Moving on from Tre Flowers

After surprisingly winning a starting job during the offseason, cornerback Tre Flowers is no longer longer with the Seahawks after he was waived on Wednesday.

That put an end to Flowers’ four-year run with the Seahawks, who drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft and converted him from a safety at Oklahoma State to a pro cornerback. He started for the Seahawks his first two years but he was benched in favor of Quinton Dunbar in 2020. He played on and off due to injuries to other players in 2020, and he started each of Seattle’s first three games in 2021 before Sidney Jones took over at left cornerback.

Carroll said it was a move that he feels is best for Flowers going forward.

“I think it was time for a change for him. He had a couple guys that were getting playing time ahead of him,” Carroll said. “I love that guy. I love the kid. I’ve been working with him as close as anyone I’ve worked with since I’ve been here. I feel it’s better for him to get out of here and get going again. There’s a lot of teams that need corners and I hope he gets a great shot.”

Carroll said he was very high on Flowers coming out of training camp this year because he’d exceeded all expectations and came back to the team better and more aggressive.

“In my opinion, it just didn’t stay as much as I’d hoped,” Carroll said when asked why Flowers struggled in 2021. “We gave him a great shot at it and he did everything he could.”

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Flowers was to be cut, with some reporting that Flowers asked to be released or traded.

“He never said anything like that to me ever,” Carroll said.

State of the CBs

With Flowers out, Jones and D.J. Reed are the clear starters at cornerback. But that could change soon, too.

Not only does Carroll have a high opinion of Bless Austin, who has starting experience with the New York Jets, but rookie corner Tre  Brown is set to return from injured reserve very soon.

Carroll said the fourth-round pick should be ready to play as soon as this Sunday.

“I’ve already talked to him about how this is the time he comes back to action,” Carroll said. “… When he got hurt, he was right at the verge of competing for playing time. He’d done a lot of positive things and unfortunately his knee acted up and he couldn’t respond right then.”

Carroll said he has “no apprehension” in starting the rookie if he earns it, but they need to get him on the practice field before that’s possible.

“We drafted him to let him compete for the job and see what happens and we’re sticking to that. That’s what’s happening right now.”

Brown returned to practice last week, but with the team playing on Thursday, it was a short week and the Seahawks were in walkthroughs rather than normal practices.

Carroll also wouldn’t say whether Brown is still practicing on the left side, where Jones plays, or on Reed’s right side.

Speaking of Jones, Carroll thought he played better against the Rams in Week 5 than he did in his first game with the Seahawks in Week 4 against the 49ers.

“He’s a real smart kid and all that, he just needed to get out there with us,” he said. “Unfortunately the first time out there were a couple of plays (that got away from him). He played a solid game (against the Rams). The ball really went on the other side of the field more than his way.”

The Geno Smith show

With star quarterback Russell Wilson out of action for a few weeks, the Seahawks turn to Geno Smith, who has been Seattle’s backup QB since 2019.

Carroll said he was “really pleased” with Smith’s performance against the Rams after Wilson suffered a finger injury because he’d been given very few opportunities to play in recent years.

“Not that that was a surprise,” he added. “I was just pleased for him and happy for us knowing that we need him.”

Carroll said that Smith has a “real good position” on the Seahawks because of how he’s viewed by players, coaches, the organization as a whole and the fans.

“I’m grateful that he’s been with us. Now it’s his time and chance to do this and help this club, and I couldn’t be more excited for him,” Carroll said. “He’s going to be really tuned in. He’s really smart with the scheme and system and all that. He’s really sharp at the line of scrimmage and in the huddle; all that kind of stuff he’s really good at.  He gives himself every chance to have a good performance and help us win.”

Asked later in the press conference about why Smith is so trusted and respected, Carroll went in-depth.

“Geno’s a really good quarterback. He really throws the football, he’s really athletic, he’s tough, he’s really got a great calmness around him,” he said. “He’s the guy that guys respect. They really respect him because of who he is as an athlete and a player and a teammate. When he gets a chance and does something well, everyone’s cheering for him – just like anyone on the team, but Geno’s got a way about him.”

Carroll said that Smith has “had a lot of stuff he’s been through” that he’s grown from. That plays a part in why he’s as beloved as he is.

“We are lucky to have him. And the players feel that way too, I think,” Carroll said. “They’re cheering for him and supporting him and we need him to come through while Russ is out, and we really don’t have any thought that he’s not going to. Everyone believes he’s going to do a great job just like he showed the other night.”

Speaking of “Russ,” Wilson is expected to miss anywhere from four to eight weeks with a right middle finger injury that required surgery. The Seahawks could place Wilson on injured reserve for three weeks, which would open up a spot on Seattle’s 53-man roster. Carroll didn’t say whether or not that is the team’s plan.

“We don’t have to do that yet,” he said. “We’re going to use all the days that we need to make a really good choice there.”

Someone who both Wilson and Smith love giving the ball to is running back Chris Carson, who missed Week 5 with a neck injury. Carroll said Monday that Carson made a “turn” in the positive direction over the weekend, and he appeared optimistic of Carson’s chances of playing this weekend in Pittsburgh.

“He went through the walkthrough today,” he said. “I think we’re going to hold him out today and bring him back tomorrow and see how he does.”

More snaps for Darrell Taylor

When looking at the Seahawks’ defense, it’s hard to find many positives.

One of the lone bright spots, though, has been the play of defensive end/linebacker Darrell Taylor.

Taylor is technically in his second NFL season, but he missed all of his rookie campaign with a shin injury and didn’t even practice until the playoffs.

Now, Taylor has four sacks to lead the Seahawks, who have struggled for the most part with their pass rush.

Carroll made it clear Taylor will be playing more going forward.

“He’s really ready to be given more opportunities. He’s off to a really good start,” Carroll said. “He’s growing with us and all that.”

While Taylor has been a standout on defense, Carroll said the young defender is also shining on special teams.

“Which is way more of a statement than you guys might realize,” he said. “For a young guy who’s a pass rusher on the edge to be the first guy down on kickoff teams and be contributing to a great kickoff team and be on the punt team and all that stuff that he does, he’s all-in. It’s just giving him more, so his play time and his opportunities will increase. He’s earned that.”

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