The Seahawks have bigger plans for Bruce Irvin this year, but it appears he might not be available to fulfill them until late in training camp or even after the season begins.
Coach Pete Carroll made it seem as though the 2012 first-round pick, who had hip surgery last week, is questionable for the first game of the season.
"It just got to a point where we thought it was better to have a chance to get him back by the start of the season, which is a possibility," Carroll told reporters Monday. "We’ll see what happens.”
We can infer from that comment that Irvin is questionable for the start of the season, and it's not a huge jump -- considering Percy Harvin's hip issue last year -- to think that the Irvin could stay on PUP. That would mean he would miss at least the first six games, adding to the four he missed to start last season due to a drug suspension.
The Hawks were planning to use Irvin as a pass rusher more than they did last season, when he shared time at linebacker and had less than half the pass-rush attempts he did in 2012, when he led all rookies with eight sacks.
It sounds like Irvin will fall way behind everyone else in the competition for spots, though, as he rehabs into at least August. Will there be a place for him if he is healthy?
Cliff Avril is moving to Chris Clemons' spot as the starting LEO, and the Hawks are expected to give long looks in particular to backup pass rushers Benson Mayowa, O'Brien Schofield and Jackson Jeffcoat.
The Hawks are high on Mayowa after the undrafted free agent basically redshirted the 2013 season. Schofield is back for another year, and he recently said the coaches want him to focus on rushing the passer.
"From what I understand, I’m going to solely be focused on playing with my hand on the ground," he told 1090 The Fan, "so I am excited about that. I promise you you’ll hear my name.”
Then there is Jeffcoat, who impressed Carroll from the get-go in rookie minicamp. Jeffcoat was undrafted even though he was rated as high as the third round by some.
"He’s jumped out to me as a pass rusher first," defensive coordinator Dan Quinn told reporters Monday. "We’re just trying to get all those guys acclimated as quickly as we can. You know us: We like pass rushers."
The Hawks can keep only so many, though, which is why guys who can also play linebacker -- e.g., Irvin and Schofield -- help their causes.
Of course, the Hawks are pretty stacked at linebacker, too, and Irvin risks losing his spot there to rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis and another "newcomer," Korey Toomer.
Toomer missed his 2012 rookie season with a shoulder injury and last season with a knee problem, but Carroll said, “He probably has been the brightest guy in the whole camp (this month). His speed is really obvious. He’s no longer a rook … not understanding. He’s worked hard in the offseason. He practices just like the guys who are playing all the time and he looks like he can compete with all the guys."
Carroll said Toomer has ascended to the No. 1 kickoff team, which means he currently has earned a spot on the 53-man roster and figures to keep it if he maintains his health and plays well in August.
"That’s a lot of ground he’s made up," Carroll said. "He doesn’t seem like a rookie anymore. He seems like a redshirt junior right now.”
Assuming Toomer and KPL make the team, there would be two spots left for Irvin, Schofield, Mike Morgan, Heath Farwell or Mike Taylor.
Next to Toomer, the guy who has been talked up most during this minicamp is Christine Michael.
Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell both have sung the praises of the 2013 second-round pick, who apparently has matured a lot since his rookie season.
At the Seahawks Town Hall last week, Bevell made it sound almost as if they sat Michael as much for personal reasons as for football failings last year. And he added to that Monday, telling reporters, “I think there were some distractions going on for him a little bit. He just really needed to focus in on the details of things: work, reads, assignments and all those things he’s kind of doing right now. He’s really turned the page on last year.”
Bevell also clarified his Town Hall comment about the Hawks using more of a committee approach to running the ball in 2014, saying he was referring to the current minicamp in which Marshawn Lynch is absent. The enigmatic Beast Mode is expected to return next week for a mandatory minicamp.