By John Boyle
Cliff Avril returned to practice for the first time since injuring his hamstring in the first week of camp, but he was limited to early individual drills and did not take part in team activities. Pete Carroll said they’ll know more about Avril’s status after Wednesday’s practice, but acknowledged the defensive end won’t likely play.
“It was just a start,” Carroll said. “We couldn’t get him past the individual periods yet, we’ll do a little bit more tomorrow and just start bringing him back. Yeah, it’s great to get him back on the field, he needs to be a part of this.”
On Saturday’s game, Carroll said, “Let’s wait until after tomorrow and see what happens, see how he goes. That’s not very likely.”
On Bruce Irvin, who is trying to get back from a groin injury, Carroll said, “We’ll find out. He’s got some stuff we’re looking at today. We’ll find out more tomorrow.”
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel continues to be out with a groin injury, which isn’t helping his chances with winning a starting role. McDaniel was signed with the thought that he could take over for Alan Branch, but missing two preseason games won’t help his chances, especially with rookies Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill playing well in camp.
“We have not seen enough to know where he fits in,” Carroll said. “He has a chance to be one of the lead candidates for the three technique spot, but we don’t know anything about it right now, we’ve seen just limited play. So the game time is going to be really important for him. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to do that. The other guys are trying to take advantage of that. Jordan and Jesse are jumping at this opportunity. It’s unfortunate for Tony. There’s nothing we can do about it, he’s working hard to get well, he just hasn’t made it back yet.”
As for the on-field action, what stood out most was the physical nature of Wednesday’s practice. On one play, running back Robert Turbin got into the open field and looked like he was ready to take on Kam Chancellor. Chancellor, naturally, wasn’t going to back down, and the safety planted Turbin into the ground. A few minutes later, rookie linebacker John Lotulelei sent receiver Phil Bates flying out of bounds with a hard hit on the sideline.
“It was a good knocking day,” Carroll said. “Guys had a good break and they came back strong and got after it really well. This is a huge day for us, it’s competition Wednesday, so it’s a big day for us and they battled just the way they’re supposed to.”
Receiver Stephen Williams continues to impress, and had a nice diving catch on a deep pass down the sideline. Perhaps better for his chances of making the team, however, was the fact that he had a few catches across the middle of the field. Catching the deep ball down the sideline is one hell of a skill to have in the NFL, but so far that’s almost all we’ve seen from Williams, so showing some versatility as a receiver will help.