By Todd Dybas The New Tribune
The Seattle Seahawks take another incremental step toward playing football again by starting offseason training activities today.
They will run four workout sessions: May 27-29, June 2-3, June 5 and June 9-12. Just four of those practices are open to the media.
The defending Super Bowl champions will be mixing in new faces and trying to reboot their stars for another Super Bowl run during these first sessions. Here are five things to watch for over the two weeks:
The fight at wide receiver
This figures to be a battle lasting into and through training camp. The Seahawks drafted two wide receivers — second-round pick Paul Richardson and fourth-round pick Kevin Norwood — to bolster the unit.
During the offseason, Seattle signed Chris Matthews out of the Canadian Football League and Taylor Price, who previously played for New England and Jacksonville, but has not played since 2011.
Adding those four to the returning group of Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters, makes wide receiver the most competitive position on the roster.
Despite being a run-first offense, Seattle felt the need to up the wide receiver personnel in the offseason, particularly after leading receiver Golden Tate went to the Detroit Lions in free agency. That leaves rookies and outcasts to fight it out with the incumbents.
Do or die for James Carpenter
The Seahawks used their first pick in the 2011 draft to select left guard James Carpenter. That sent a message of how they felt about Carpenter’s ability.
This offseason, the Seahawks did not pick up Carpenter’s fifth-year contract option (each first-round pick receives a four-year contract with a fifth-year team option). That sent another message, namely what Carpenter has produced is not good enough. Carpenter rotated with Paul McQuistan at left guard last season. Head coach Pete Carroll claims Carpenter is in much better shape this offseason than last, when he was slowed by two knee injuries.
His NFL future could be on the line with his performance this season.
Who will backup the backup QB?
Backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has a guaranteed one-year contract, two years in Seattle and five prior years of experience with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s system, making him close to a lock as the No. 2 quarterback behind Russell Wilson. Something dramatic would have to happen in camp for Jackson to be displaced.
Behind him, Terrelle Pryor, acquired from the Raiders in the offseason for a seventh-round draft pick, former Washington star Keith Price and B.J. Daniels will be fighting for the third quarterback spot.
How healthy is everyone?
Linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith had a walking boot on his right foot during the Seahawks’ visit to the White House. Left tackle Russell Okung had offseason surgery on a toe that was injured throughout last season. Strong safety Kam Chancellor had minor hip surgery after the season. Wilson dealt with a sore left shoulder during the season. Richard Sherman left the Super Bowl early because of an ankle injury. Center Max Unger had various injuries— including concussion issues — throughout last season.
Then, there’s wide receiver Percy Harvin. Arguably the most tantalizing player on the team, Harvin made just four catches and had three carries in the 19 games the Seahawks played last season because of August 2013 hip surgery. He was at voluntary offseason workouts at Seahawks headquarters in Renton and at the informal workouts Wilson organized for the second consecutive season at Hermosa Beach in California. He finally appears ready to go.
Making a push
Defensive tackle Jesse Williams, defensive end Greg Scruggs and cornerback Tharold Simon missed all of last season because of injuries. Each will be fighting for a spot starting in OTAs, all with a legitimate shot to play backup roles at their positions.