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Camp Carroll: Day 17

A recap of the afternoon practice at Seahawks training camp on Saturday:

FOCUS ON

Russell Okung. No crutches. No boot. Able to do toe-raises while watching practice.

All the signs today where more positive than it appeared after the team’s left tackle limped off the field on Thursday night during the first series of the Seahawks’ preseason opener against the Chargers in San Diego. Yes, Okung has a sprained left ankle. But it is not as severe as the high sprains of both ankles that forced him to miss six regular-season games last season.

“Russell’s not nearly as bad as it looked,” coach Pete Carroll said after practice. “It’s nothing like the ones he had.”

Carroll did not put a timetable on Okung’s possible return, but he said it is conceivable that last year’s top draft choice could be ready for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco.

“He’s way more active than he was any time early in those other ankle injuries that he had,” Carroll said. “So we’re feeling pretty positive that something’s going to come out and within a couple of weeks we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

While Okung is out, Tyler Polumbus is working at left tackle with the No. 1 line.

POSITION WATCH

Tight end. After Thursday night’s game, backup QB Charlie Whitehurst glanced around the locker room and offered, “Look at the talent we have on this team at the tight end position.”

He’ll get no argument from Carroll.

“It really feels strong now,” Carroll said. “With Zach (Miller) coming in, John Carlson has really answered the call. I mean John is competing like crazy.

“It’s a very strong position for us and one we’re kind of growing with as we see them display the kind of things they can do.”

The addition of Miller from the Raiders in free agency to complement Carlson gives the team two starting-caliber tight ends, and a tandem that assistant head coach/line coach Tom Cable considers the best in the league.

But the contributions of free-agent addition Dominique Byrd and second-year man Anthony McCoy are making things interesting in the battle for the third roster spot. And Cameron Morrah, who filled that spot last season, has yet to practice because he’s recovering from offseason toe surgery.

“Dominique is a very good all-around athlete,” Carroll said of Byrd, who played for him at USC. “He was a point guard in high school. He’s got a lot of athleticism that make him unique to the tight end position.”

Byrd caught two passes for 52 yards against the Chargers and also was wide open in the end zone on the play where rookie QB Josh Portis went to McCoy for the TD that tied the score at 17.

UNIT WATCH

The fans. Those along the fence, as well as those on the berm that is adjacent to the practice fields. Today’s practice drew the largest crowd of camp – 2,314 – and the fans were treated to the best practice of camp.

“I thought it was a really interesting day of practice for anybody watching,” Carroll said. “Just a lot of playmaking. A lot of really interesting plays. Guys making catches. Guys making throws. And a bunch of different positions, too.

“So it was just a great day of practice for us.”

And the fans cheered and applauded on a regular basis. They also showed their old-school 12th Man colors, as Steve Largent, Curt Warner, Jacob Green, Shawn Springs and Brian Bosworth jerseys were spotted in the crowd.

PLAYS OF THE DAY

Offense: Ben Obomanu somehow gathering in a pass from Tarvaris Jackson while sandwiched between cornerback Kelly Jennings and the back of the end zone. Obomanu not only came down with the ball, he got both feet in before falling out of the end zone.

Defense: Rookie cornerback Richard Sherman coming off wide receiver Golden Tate to intercept a flea-flicker pass from Whitehurst.

IN AND OUT

Seven players who did not play in Thursday night’s game participated in practice at least on a limited basis: wide receivers Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Obomanu; running back Justin Forsett; and defensive linemen Red Bryant, Chris Clemons and Kentwan Balmer.

“It was great to see those guys jump back out,” Carroll said. “It feels like a little boost, on the depth chart anyway.”

Three players joined the ranks for those sidelined: cornerback Byron Maxwell, wide receiver Chris Carter and Okung.

Still out: cornerback Walter Thurmond, offensive lineman Caz Piurowski, wide receiver Kris Durham, defensive linemen Jay Alford and Ryan Sims and the four players who have yet to practice in camp – wide receiver Deon Butler, defensive tackle Colin Cole, cornerback Roy Lewis and Morrah.

UP NEXT

The players will have a walk-thru on Sunday morning and then practice starting at 1:45. The session is open to the public and another large turnout is expected.

YOU DON’T SAY

“No, I just think that’s a regular day for Kenny Norton. Kenny Norton had a big day today. But we had to remind Kenny, it isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish. Because he was all hot and going early on and had the whole defense and everybody riled up.” – Carroll on his linebackers coach, who was involved in a couple of very animated discussions with the local officials who work practice


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