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Clayton’s Observations: Seahawks kick off training camp in great shape

Pete Carroll's Seahawks are surprisingly healthy in the early going of training camp. (AP)

The Seahawks opened training camp with a surprisingly healthy team.

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During the end of the OTAs and minicamp, the Seahawks had as many as 20 players not practicing, but by Thursday afternoon’s first practice of training camp they were down to only three players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) or non-football injury (NFI) lists.

Here are a few thoughts at the opening of Seahawks camp.

• The biggest surprise was seeing No. 88, tight end Will Dissly, on the field practicing on the first day. He’s made an incredible recovery from a patellar tendon injury suffered in Week 4 of last season. Dissly recovered in nine months from an injury that normally takes close to a year for a receiver. Remember Jimmy Graham’s patellar injury? He pressed and barely made it to start the season. Dissly made it at the start of camp. He was limited to doing just drills, but at least he’s on the field and now can compete for the starting job at tight end.

• Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf continues to make incredible catches. He made two on Thursday, and he’s already becoming a fan favorite, drawing a strong fan reaction every time he makes a play. There hasn’t been an offensive player for the Seahawks to draw that fan response since Graham came over in a trade in 2015.

• Rashaad Penny is in a good place. The second-year running back is going to compete against Chris Carson for the starting job, but he feels better about the way he’s preparing for this season. He says he has become more of a pro than he was as a rookie. He’s in better shape. He’s studied the game better. He’s pleased the Seahawks are staying in a running offense. Penny and Carson each said they are close and work well together. Carson is expected to be the starter but Penny will get more carries than the 112 he saw last season, particularly knowing that Mike Davis left for Chicago.

• Barkevious Mingo worked exclusively as a defensive end at the start of camp. He started last year at strong side linebacker and still can be in the mix for that position. Mingo has pass-rush ability because he’s fast and has a big body. Don’t count him out for playing time in the nickel.

• All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner is on the field but he’s not practicing. On Friday he had his helmet on, meaning he’s closer to practicing and possibly closer to getting a contract extension. Wagner isn’t going to practice until he gets a deal that extends him past 2019, but coach Pete Carroll and others say that it’s close. K.J. Wright has filled in for Wagner at middle linebacker in practice.

• It was interesting to see Mychal Kendricks at strongside linebacker Thursday. Carroll praised the versatility of Kendricks, who played weakside linebacker last year. If Mingo is more in the mix at defensive end, the Seahawks could go with Kendricks at strongside, Wright at weakside and Wagner in the middle. Austin Calitro worked the weakside Thursday. Carroll thinks this might be the best linebackers core he’s had in Seattle.

• Poona Ford opened camp as a starting defensive tackle next to Jarran Reed. The Seahawks also have Al Woods, Earl Mitchell and Nazair Jones as other options. Ford could end up having a breakout season, especially with Reed out the first six games of the regular season due to suspension.

• As the offseason began, Lano Hill was considered the favorite to be the starting safety next to Bradley McDougald. Now he is trailing Tedric Thompson and Marquise Blair. Hill had hip surgery in January and he’s still not ready to practice. He’s getting closer to getting on the field but he’s still a week or two away. Blair came off the PUP Thursday and will start practicing soon coming off his hamstring injury. Once Hill is healthy, he has a lot of catching up to do. He didn’t practice at all in OTAs or minicamp.

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