RENTON -- The offseason in just about any sports is fraught with stories of athletes being in the best shape of their lives.
No games are being played and thoughts of what could be lead to optimistic outlooks for the upcoming season. While the hyperbole can run a bit thick at times, it appears as though the statement genuinely applies to Seahawks running back Chris Carson.
Carson is back to full strength after a broken ankle ended his season in early October. Carson had been on pace to potentially return before the end of the year but a setback in his recovery delayed his return enough that it never happened.
"What's really jumped out is Chris Carson," head coach Pete Carroll said. "Chris has looked incredible the whole time, the entire offseason. He hasn't missed one snap of anything. He's just looked so fit and so cut and quick and explosive and all that. He might be the guy that, really, when you look at everybody, he's the guy that jumps out in that regard."
Carson has added 10 pounds to his frame this offseason and is sitting around 226-227 pounds as OTAs came to a conclusion on Thursday. He rushed for 208 yards on 49 carries as a rookie and caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown before being injured in a game against the Indianapolis Colts in early October.
“He’s absolutely full steam," Carroll said. "He has just had a great offseason. He was really frustrated about not being able to finish us last year, and he put it to work. He did it. I’m excited to see how he goes. He’s going to play really good for us when we get back.”
Carson and first-round pick Rashaad Penny are expected to be the leading contributors of the team's effort to right their rushing attack. Seattle scored just one rushing touchdown last season and was almost completely ineffective inside an opponent's 20-yard line. The Seahawks signed a blocking tight end in Ed Dickson, drafted another in Will Dissly, added D.J. Fluker to the offensive line and drafted Penny as parts of their effort to fix the problem.
"I feel like it's the talk of the offseason," Carson said of improving the running game.. "Everybody wants to know how the run game is going to be and I feel like every day we get out there and are improving. With the (offensive) line, the running backs, quarterbacks, receivers, everybody is trying to make it happen."
Carroll is happy with the way the group looks at this stage of the offseason.
"It's a really cool group," Carroll said. "C.J. (Prosise) has really jumped out too. He looked good now. He know. He's battling. J.D. McKissic is a fantastic competitor on our team. ... It's going to be a really exciting group. What I'm anxious to see is the versatility show up because they are very well rounded players. They all can catch and block and run inside and run outside. There's a real nice mix. All those guys can be third down backs. That's really rare that you would have that on a team because they can all catch the ball really well."
Shaquill Griffin getting comfortable on left side:
With the departure of Richard Sherman this offseason, second-year cornerack Shaquill Griffin has been moved to left cornerback to take Sherman's old spot.
Sherman had the spot locked down for seven seasons upon usurping the starting job in 2011 following injuries to Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond. Griffin remained on the right side last season after Sherman was lost to an Achilles injury in November.
"It’s a little different step for me, but nothing that I can’t focus on," Griffin said. "But I’m loving the left side and I’m honored to be on that side now. I’m here to help my team any way I can."
The move was first hinted at with a video of early practices in OTAs showing Griffin working on the left side of the defense. While Carroll didn't confirm it the immediate aftermath, it became clear over the last few weeks that Griffin was indeed taking over on the left side.
"Physically it was no problem, he had played back in forth in earlier years," Carroll said. "His mentality about it was fine, he was wide open to it. That’s most of it. If a guy feels uncomfortable and he’s telling you he’s feeling uncomfortable, then he is. He never balked at it at all, and there’s no signs of any evidence at all that it’s going to be a problem."
Carroll said they wanted to make the change so Byron Maxwell could play on the right side of the defense. It's the spot he occupied as a starter for Seattle opposite Sherman in 2013-14.
Griffin appeared in 15 games and made 11 starts as a rookie last season after being selected in the third round out of Central Florida. Last year he had Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor all roaming the secondary with him. None of the three were on the field for OTAs for varying reasons, which led Griffin to want to fill some of the leadership void.
"It's just telling me I've got to play more of a leadership role," Griffin said. "I'm looking forward to doing so. We've got some guys who ware willing to step up and pull some of the weight and take care of their part."
-- Defensive end Dion Jordan has been unable to take part in OTAs due to a minor surgery earlier this offseason to clean-up some lingering issues with his knee.
"He had a surgery, kind of an after surgery to correct a little something," Carroll said. "Everything went really well and we're hoping by camp time he'll be ready to rip and all that. A little knee thing. He's had some complications just over time and so it was worth it to go ahead and clean this thing up. It was a really small issue but it was one that was going to sit him down for 6-8 weeks so we went ahead and did it."
-- RG D.J. Fluker was able to take part in some drills on Thursday after being held out to rest an injury. He's expected to be able to do a bit more in mini-camp next week.
-- Carroll is expecting Earl Thomas, Frank Clark and Byron Maxwell all to be present for next week's mini-camp. All three players have stayed away from offseason workouts.
"It’s mandatory, so we expect everybody to show up," he said.
Photo Credit: Seahawks running back Chris Carson speaks with reporters following a practice during OTAs on June 7, 2018. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)