RENTON -- The Seahawks' offseason was a bit shorter than others due to having a week of OTAs lost for practice violations last year, but head coach Pete Carroll feels him team is a great place as their break for six weeks before training camp starts at the end of July.
"I think we had our most compliant OTA season," Carroll said. "I'm really proud of that, finally. Old dog, new tricks man. It was hard but we finally figured that out."
Seattle wrapped up its mandatory three-day mini-camp on Thursday. Everyone on the roster was in attendance outside of defensive end Dion Jordan (knee surgery) and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, whose wife had a baby in the past days.
The rest of the group concluded their final practice just before 1 p.m. this afternoon.
Carroll said that Jimmy Graham and Earl Thomas were the two most impressive players to him this offseason, though for different reasons.
"I think Jimmy's offseason is a big highlight for us," Carroll said. "Last year at this time we didn't know what he was going to be like. We were positive, but didn't know. He had a phenomenal offseason and great work with us."
Carroll was then asked what his thoughts were on Graham's tenure with the team through two seasons.
"Gosh, I think it's been awesome," he said. "He's become such a complete football player. Wait until you see him block again this year because he had a very, very good year in advancing his blocking skills and the demands that we placed on him he accepted and took to heart. You can just tell now his confidence level is in the clouds. He knows he can block guys. He knows he can block big guys and (line)backers and DB's. He has no hesitation. He's just totally grown in that area so he's so much more of a complete player than maybe we thought he would become even. So he's surprised us. He and Russell are really tuned in. They spend a lot of time together. They communicate beautifully. I think it will hopefully show up as we get closer to the end zone. Not quite as productive as we thought we could be but that's a big area of focus for us now, but not because he hasn't made every effort. He didn't even have an offseason (last year). He wasn't thinking about 'I'm going to go make plays.' He was just trying to get to camp and get healthy. That's not what his focus has been on and he's had a beautiful, beautiful offseason so I think we should expect to get even more out of all of that as we move ahead."
Carroll has been impressed with the extent of work Thomas has been able to accomplish to this point as he continues to work back from a broken leg sustained last season. Thomas took part in most of the activities during mini-camp this week.
"He looks good. He's running around doing everything and flying around the field and getting his confidence back," Carroll said.
Thomas is expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp, though Carroll noted they could still elect to ease him in at the start.
"I do anticipate he will be able to (practice). I don't know if we'll do that with him," Carroll said. "We'll make sure and work our way into it but there's nothing showing that he can't.
Another area Carroll seemed particularly happy with is the offensive line. The group took a beating last year and struggled to play consistently throughout the season. With a year of experience under their belts, Carroll is expecting big things from the group.
"I think probably the biggest area that we're going to see us grow is in our offensive line play," Carroll said. "I think you can see a change in the group and an elevation of their awareness based on that one year of experiencing coming back for your sophomore year and things just jump. George (Fant) will tell you that. (Justin) Britt will tell you that. (Mark) Glow(inski) will tell you that. (Germain) Ifedi, they'll all tell you how much different it looks now to them after a whole year in the bag for them. So we're expecting a big jump there and a really competitive camp coming up."
Fant has added over 20 pounds to his frame this offseason and still has the ability to move extremely well. His agility was the biggest trait that prompted the Seahawks to sign him last year despite extremely limited football experience.
Carroll said Fant has made a significant jump already and will absolutely be in the mix to start at left tackle.
"There's no question, no question that he has because he's improved," Carroll said. "His awareness, his communication - as it should - that one year to year two jump has already happened. But more than that, he had a phenomenal offseason in terms of getting stronger and he maintained his quickness and his mobility. This is the first offseason he's ever had as a football player. It shows and he made great advancements and he worked really hard at it and he's really fired up to come on back with what he knows now, how he sees things and also his body. It might be a 25-pound swing on his body right now and he looks great."
Carroll said that they're confident that both Luke Joeckel and Ethan Pocic can play both at guard and tackle despite the limited time they've had to work them through OTAs and mini-camp.
The Seahawks can report for training camp 15 days before their first preseason game, which is Sunday, June 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Seattle is expected to report to camp on July 29 with their first practice coming on July 30.
News & Notes:
-- Carroll said he was happy with the way Richard Sherman addressed the media on Wednesday after practice and believes that Sherman did his best to show the team has moved on from an offseason of stories and trade rumors surrounding their star cornerback.
"I don't think that that in any way dictated the offseason or we would base our offseason accomplishments based on that. It didn't have anything to do with it," Carroll said. "I think he spoke very well to the points and he answered your questions and did an admirable job of making things clear to you guys. You should know where we stand now.
"Sherm and I, in particular, have had an incredibly profitable, beneficial offseason working it, getting ready. His mind is ready to go after it in a huge way for the season coming up.
-- Injury Updates:
Cornerback DeShawn Shead is making strong progress in his recovery from an ACL tear in January. However, he's not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. "I don't think we'll be pushing him on that regard," Carroll said. "... That's not in our thoughts right now."
Wide receiver Tanner McEvoy had surgery on his toe during the last several weeks. The surgery was needed to remove a small bone from his toe that was causing problems. "It was a big setback for him and it bothered him some last year and it was too aggravated and he had to get worked on."
Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson may not be ready for the start of camp as he continues to recover from an ACL tear sustained last season. Defensive end Dion Jordan is also a question mark after having a clean-up procedure on his knee recently.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett is still uncertain to be ready for the start of training camp as well.
-- All draft picks signed:
The Seahawks signed third-round picks Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hill to four-year rookie contracts on Thursday. With the signings, all eleven members of Seattle's draft class are now under contract.
Photo Credit: ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll looks on against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)