Tagged in: seahawks

Seattle Seahawks fire DC Ken Norton Jr., defensive assistant Andre Curtis

The Seattle Seahawks have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis, a significant shake-up to Pete Carroll’s coaching staff on the heels of the team’s worst campaign in more than a decade.

The Seahawks revealed the moves Tuesday.

Seattle has already started its search for a new defensive coordinator, requesting permission to speak with Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Donatell, 64, has coordinated and coached NFL secondaries for decades — a Seattle soft spot in recent years — and has history with Carroll at multiple spots.

The 55-year-old Norton, a longtime Carroll assistant, was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator for the past four seasons. The 2021 season typified the mixed-bag nature of his tenure, with the Seahawks concluding fifth worst in yards allowed (379.1 per game) and tied for 11th best in points allowed (21.53).

For the second straight season, Seattle’s defense was gashed at a historic rate early on before rebounding with a strong finish. Carroll mentioned that trend last week while citing several things that went wrong for the Seahawks during a 7-10 season in which they suffered their most losses since 2009, the year before he and general manager John Schneider arrived.

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“Defensively, we didn’t start fast enough in this season again,” Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle a day after the Seahawks’ season finale. “That’s two times in a row we didn’t start fast enough, and we found ourselves and put up some good numbers that indicate how you’re playing. Just all of that just didn’t happen soon enough.”

The 2021 team permitted at least 450 yards in four consecutive games (Weeks 2 through 5), a franchise record and tied for the longest streak in NFL history. The defense got on track after a shake-up at cornerback in which Tre Flowers was benched (he was later released) and D.J. Reed moved back to the right side.

The 2020 team allowed the most passing yards through nine games in league history and topped the previous mark in only eight games. It allowed the fewest points in the NFL over the final seven weeks of that season.

Curtis joined Carroll’s staff in 2015 as an assistant secondary coach in charge of safeties.

He was elevated to defensive passing game coordinator in 2018.

Norton, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, played for Carroll in 1994 and 1995 when Carroll was the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator. Norton coached under Carroll for 15 of the previous 18 seasons dating back to their time together at USC.

One question now is whether Carroll will again hire one of his past assistants to run his defense or go outside of his own coaching tree. Dan Quinn, Kris Richard and Norton had all previously worked under Carroll or were already doing so when they became Seattle’s defensive coordinators. Gus Bradley, a holdover from Jim L. Mora’s 2009 staff, was the lone exception among the four defensive coordinators Carroll has had in Seattle.

Clint Hurtt, Seattle’s defensive line coach and assistant head coach, is the highest-ranking defensive assistant on Carroll’s staff.

Carroll brought Norton with him to Seattle from USC in 2010 as the Seahawks’ linebackers coach, the same role he held for the previous six seasons with the Trojans. The Raiders hired Norton as their defensive coordinator in 2015 and fired him midway through the 2017 season. Carroll brought him back to Seattle in 2018 as defensive coordinator after parting with Richard.

That change coincided with the transitioning away from the famed Legion of Boom secondary. Kam Chancellor suffered a career-ending neck injury in 2017 and Richard Sherman was released after that season. Earl Thomas held out during the 2018 offseason and returned only to suffer a broken leg in the fourth game. He then left in free agency.

In four seasons under Norton, the Seahawks ranked 11th, 22nd, 15th and tied for 11th in points allowed. They were 16th, 26th, 22nd and 28th in yards allowed.

The 2021 Seahawks finished 25th in takeaways and tied for 22nd in sacks despite the expectancy that their loaded pass rush would be among their biggest strengths. Strong safety Jamal Adams, who set the NFL sack record for a defensive back with 9.5 in 2020, didn’t record a sack this past season while blitzing less often. He landed on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 13.

Norton made three Pro Bowls and was once named a first-team All-Pro during his 13-year NFL playing career. He holds the distinction of being the only player in NFL history to play for three straight Super Bowl winners: the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and ’93 and the 49ers in ’94.

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Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner hopes he plays Sunday, optimistic he stays with team next season

A week after acknowledging his unclear future with the Seahawks, All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner struck a more hopeful tune Wednesday, saying he has “a lot of optimism” that he’ll be back in 2022 for an 11th season in Seattle.

Wagner stated he hasn’t given up on the chance of playing in the team’s season finale either, saying he’s going to get “as much treatment as I possibly can” on his sprained knee in the hopes of suiting up Sunday versus the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium.

“I’m going to take it one day at a time,” said Wagner, who hurt his knee on the opening play of the Seahawks’ blowout win last week over the Detroit Lions and didn’t return. “I have a lot of days before Sunday and we’re going to see what happens.”

Last week, Wagner answered in the affirmative when asked if he has wondered whether he’ll be back with the Seahawks next season given his huge cap number.

The Seahawks’ defensive captain and longest-tenured player (along with quarterback Russell Wilson) said there’s “obviously” going to be some changes on the heels of Seattle suffering double-digit losses for the first time since 2009 and added, “Whether or not I’m part of those changes, I don’t know.”

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On Wednesday, Wagner was asked if that insecurity has given him any more incentive to play Sunday.

“Not really, because in my mind I don’t feel like this is my last time,” he said. “I don’t feel like this is my last time putting on a Seahawks uniform. I don’t feel like this is my last time doing that. I understand there is a business side to this, but there is a lot of optimism on my end that I’ll be back. So I’m not worried about it. Obviously, I can’t control everything. I can only control my part. And my part on this is I feel like I love this city. I love this team. I love the Seahawks. So I always wanted to be a part of a franchise’s good times and bad times and every time. So this is a team that I would love to be able to be a part of for a very, very long time.

“So on my end, that’s where I’m at, that I’m a Seahawk until they tell me I’m not. So that’s my mindset. So I don’t see it as that was my last game or this next game could be my next game.”

Wagner, 31, serves as his own agent and negotiated his three-year, $54 million extension in 2019, then a record for off-the-ball linebackers in terms of annual average.

He’s arranged to count $20.35 million against the salary cap next season — second on the team to Wilson’s $37 million cap hit for 2022 — in what’s scheduled to be the final year of that deal. None of the $16.6 million Wagner could earn next season is guaranteed.

Wagner was asked what gives him optimism that he’ll be back next year.

“I would like to say that I’m a pretty good businessman and I would like to say I have a lot of respect here,” Wagner said. “So I’m just going to go into my businessman mentality and work some stuff out.”

Asked whether that means he’d be amenable to working out a different contract with Seattle, Wagner said with a smile: “I didn’t say that. … I said I’m a businessman. That’s all I said. Put my business cap on. I did not say I’m doing all that.”

Wagner was named to the Pro Bowl for an eight consecutive season last month, and he could be a first-team All-Pro for the seventh time.

Wagner is the Seahawks’ all-time tackles leader and broke his own franchise record for tackles in a season two weeks ago. His 170 tackles were leading the league until last week, when he was overtaken by the Atlanta Falcons’ Foyesade Oluokun (179).

Wagner hadn’t missed a snap this season until he was hurt versus Detroit when his foot slipped as he tried to plant on the wet turf at Lumen Field. He tried to return for the next snap following the injury timeout but had to miss at least one play per NFL rules. That’s when the Seahawks decided to take him to the locker room for evaluation and ultimately kept him there for the remainder of the game.

Coach Pete Carroll called it a sprained knee capsule and said the injury wouldn’t require surgery. He said the team is keeping its fingers crossed that he can play Sunday.

As expected, Wagner didn’t practice Wednesday.

“I just want to thank everybody that reached out,” he said. “I’m good. Ain’t got to worry about nothing. It’s not serious. I’m grateful that I do yoga. I just learned that I can do the splits if I want to.”

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Seattle Seahawks’ Jamal Adams needs season-ending shoulder surgery

Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams needs season-ending surgery for a torn labrum in his left shoulder, coach Pete Carroll confirmed Wednesday.

Carroll stated he believed Adams’ surgery would take place Thursday and that this labrum tear isn’t as bad as last year’s, which was in the same shoulder and also required surgery.

“Unfortunately he got hit just the wrong way and he’s going to have to get fixed up. He’s been through this before. He’s really rocked by it, of course. We’re all pulling for him to come out and get out of this thing, get back as soon as possible. But really disappointed for him as well as us,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Adams “was really emotional about it last night because it means so much to him to keep playing and he’s been through this before and to have to go through it again. He was much more forward-thinking, I think, this morning in the note that I got from him. So he’s going to make the most of it.”

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Adams suffered the injury in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30-23 victory versus the San Francisco 49ers.

When he returned to the sideline wearing street clothes in the third quarter, he shared a long embrace with his position coach, Andre Curtis.

Carroll initially referred to the injury as a “sprain” after Sunday’s game. Adams suffered a similar injury to his left labrum last season but continued to play through the postseason prior to having offseason surgery.

Adams, 26, had yet to record a sack in 2021 after setting an NFL record for a defensive back last season with 9.5 in 12 games. He had two interceptions in a three-game span this season, including one off Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 10 that was his first with the Seahawks.

His 87 total tackles are third on the team, while his four tackles for loss are tied for second.

The Seahawks got Adams in July 2020 in a blockbuster trade with the New York Jets, giving up a package of picks that included their next two first-rounders in arguably the boldest personnel move the franchise has made under Carroll and general manager John Schneider.

They signed Adams to a four-year, $70 million extension this August that made him the NFL’s highest-paid safety.

The package of picks the Seahawks sent to New York included their 2021 and ’22 first-rounders. Seattle also gave up its 2021 third-rounder, threw in veteran safety Bradley McDougald and got a 2022 fourth-rounder along with Adams.

In defending the early returns the teams has gotten from the trade, Carroll noted that Adams made an immediate impact last season and was continuing to do so this year, whereas a 2021 draft pick would have been an unproven player finding his way. With the Seahawks at 4-8, the 2022 first-round pick they gave the Jets is currently No. 5 overall.

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Russell Wilson not being limited in Seattle Seahawks’ practice this week, and ‘looks pretty good’

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated quarterback Russell Wilson is not being limited in practice this week in his return from an injury to his right middle finger.

Wilson practiced on Monday for the first time since his Oct. 8 surgery.

“I’ve just seen him in the walk-through since then and you would never have known,” Carroll said before Wednesday’s practice. “So I don’t know what that means yet, but he looks pretty good.”

Carroll stated earlier in the week that the plan was for Wilson to play Sunday versus the Green Bay Packers assuming all goes well this week. The Seahawks would need to activate Wilson off injured reserve by Saturday to make him eligible.

Because he is not on the active roster, the Seahawks aren’t required to include Wilson’s level of participation on their daily practice reports. But Carroll answered in the affirmative when asked whether Wilson is a full participant. Wilson was not seen wearing a glove during the portion of Monday’s practice that was open to reporters.

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“He doesn’t have to wear anything unless he chooses to,” Carroll said. “He has been experimenting with some stuff just to see what’s out there for him.”

The Seahawks on Wednesday designated running back Chris Carson for a return to practice.

Carson has missed the past four matches with a neck injury and was placed on IR the same day as Wilson, making both players eligible to return for the Green Bay game.

“He’s got to make it through the week of work and like we always talk about, it’s a one-day-at-a-time thing,” Carroll said.

“He’ll get banged around a little bit tomorrow, but just see how he responds to it. It’s pretty important to get a good bead on this one. He’ll feel good physically running around and all that because he’s in great shape and he’s been working really hard, so it’s just how he responds — same old thing — and how his body reacts to the workload.”

Carroll said Carson has gotten through the discomfort he was dealing with in his neck.

“That’s why he’s back and hopefully it’ll stay that way,” the coach said. He said he didn’t know whether Carson would have to be on a so-called pitch count whenever he returns.

The Seahawks designated rookie receiver Dee Eskridge for a return to practice on Monday. Seattle’s second-round pick hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in the opener.

He made two trips to a concussion specialist in Florida to work through issues he was having with his vision. Eskridge practiced Monday and was feeling good enough to practice again Wednesday, per Carroll.

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Pittsburgh Steelers acquire CB Ahkello Witherspoon from Seattle Seahawks

After an initial 53-man roster that was short on cornerbacks, the Steelers have fortified the position by obtaining Ahkello Witherspoon in a trade with the Seahawks for a 2023 fifth-round pick, the teams revealed.

Witherspoon, 26, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Seahawks in March and was expected to compete for the starting job at left cornerback, but Seattle moved D.J. Reed over to the left side and Tre Flowers into the starting role at right cornerback, making Witherspoon a trade candidate. A day earlier, Seattle traded a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Sidney Jones.

Witherspoon was unsatisfied by being relegated to a backup role, a source told ESPN’s Brady Henderson. The Steelers will take on $1.5 million of Witherspoon’s salary, while the Seahawks save that amount against their cap. However, Seattle is still on the hook for $1.25 million in dead money in 2021 and 2022 from his signing bonus.

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Witherspoon was taken in the third round by San Francisco in 2017 and started 33 of 47 career games with the 49ers in four seasons. He recorded 116 tackles and four interceptions and had 24 passes defended.

The Steelers initially had just four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster following cuts: Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne and Joe Haden. They added one more a day later, signing Arthur Maulet after moving three other players to injured reserve.

Before adding Maulet, defensive coordinator Keith Butler expressed apprehension about entering the season with so few cornerbacks.

“I don’t think anybody’s comfortable with four cornerbacks,” Butler said. “We’ve got guys who can play different positions. Cam can play different positions. He can play the nickel. Forty-two [Pierre] has shown that he can play in preseason.

“We think we’re OK right now to play them in different positions. If somebody becomes available out there in never-never land, we’ll see what happens.”

Witherspoon gives the Steelers depth at cornerback behind veterans Haden and Sutton, who emerged late in training camp as the likely slot cornerback after Mike Hilton’s departure. With Sutton in the slot, undrafted free agent Pierre was slated to be the outside cornerback opposite Haden.

The outside cornerback depth is young and relatively unproven, and Witherspoon’s experience elevates the position group.

The Steelers released defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux to make room on the roster for Witherspoon.

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Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons discuss Julio Jones trade

As the Falcons continue to field calls from teams interested in trading for Julio Jones, the Seahawks have had conversations about a possible trade with Atlanta for the wide receiver, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Jones have been in touch, having phone conversations to discuss the option of playing together, Russini reported.

Seattle already boasts a talented wide receiver corps led by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who each had 10 touchdown receptions and more than 1,000 yards receiving last season.

Sources told Russini on Thursday that the Falcons have an offer of a future first-round draft pick on the table for Jones. Atlanta has asked teams that have inquired about Jones for a first-round draft pick in return, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter last Monday.

The Seahawks do not have a first-round pick in 2022 after sending it to the New York Jets last year to get safety Jamal Adams.

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The rumor mill around Jones started last month when general manager Terry Fontenot told reporters his team would be taking calls about the All-Pro receiver.

Then, on Monday, Jones said “I’m outta there,” when asked about the Falcons in a telephone call with FS1’s Shannon Sharpe on the network’s “Undisputed” show. It is unclear whether Jones knew the phone call was being televised.

Jones, 32, requested a trade from the Falcons at the beginning of the offseason in March, but the organization was trying to protect him and work quietly behind the scenes, a source told Schefter, and has been talking to other teams for weeks. The Falcons prefer not to trade him in the NFC but would do so for the right price, the source said.

The Tennessee Titans have also discussed a trade with the Falcons, but a source described the Titans’ probabilities of landing Jones as a “long shot” to Russini on Thursday.

It is likely that Jones will not be traded until after June 1 because of the salary-cap benefits for the Falcons. Jones, whose base salary of $15.3 million is fully guaranteed for this season, is scheduled to cost the Falcons $23.05 million against the cap in 2021 and has cap hits of $19.263 million in 2022 and 2023.

If the Falcons move Jones after June 1, the move would offer Atlanta relief against the cap this season because the dead money owed to him would be split between this season and next.

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Seattle Seahawks talk to Richard Sherman, but no reunion imminent as DB mulls future

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed that he’s been in communication with Richard Sherman, but stated a reunion with the former All-Pro cornerback isn’t currently in the works.

“That’s not one of our thoughts right now that we’re going out and getting another guy at that spot, but we’re going to keep looking,” Carroll said Saturday, after the Seahawks took Oklahoma CB Tre Brown with one of their three draft picks.

“We’re not going to stop looking and we’re going to compete. So in that sense, I leave everything open and that’s just one of them.”

The 33-year-old Sherman is a free agent after spending the past three campaigns with the San Francisco 49ers.

In an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Friday, he said a return to San Francisco isn’t out of the question and listed the Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders as other teams with which he’s had communication.

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“I’ve got to wait through this draft process,” he told Smith. “Obviously, the first round, a lot of teams got corners, some teams didn’t get the corners they wanted and I think once this draft process completes my phone will ring a little more with people who expected to get a guy and didn’t get the guy they wanted. I’m not as in control as I was. At 33, it’s just like, it doesn’t matter what you put on tape.”

Sherman suggested that his age is the reason he’s unsigned

“It doesn’t matter accolades you have, what you put on tape, the numbers — it’s just age sometimes. So I’ve just got to continue to stay in shape, continue to stay ready … I’m being patient and doing everything I can.”

Sherman made four Pro Bowls and was named a First Team All-Pro in three of his seven seasons with Seattle, rising from a fifth-round pick in 2011 to become a key member of the defense that led the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl championship and a close repeat the next year.

He suffered a torn Achilles in 2017 and was released that offseason with one year left on his contract. The 49ers then signed him to a three-year deal that just expired.

Sherman made his fifth career Pro Bowl in 2019 but missed 11 matches last year with a calf injury.

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Pass-rusher Aldon Smith signs with Seattle Seahawks

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith has signed with Seattle, the Seahawks revealed Thursday.

The 31-year-old Smith adds to what was already a deep collection of edge rushers in Seattle. The Seahawks re-signed Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, added Kerry Hyder and return Jamal Adams, L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor.

After being reinstated from an indefinite suspension that lasted from 2016 to 2019 for multiple off-field incidents and violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Smith joined the Cowboys in 2020 on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million based on some incentives.

The Seahawks had strong interest in Smith last offseason before he signed with Dallas, a source told ESPN.

Smith was informed on March 24 that he would not be re-signed by the Cowboys, a source told ESPN. He started the 2020 campaign strong with a three-sack outing in Week 3 versus the Seahawks, but he concluded the year with five sacks.

He was second to DeMarcus Lawrence on the Cowboys with 33 quarterback pressures and had 48 tackles, five tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown.

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Smith played in every game, seeing action on 808 defensive snaps — the most among Cowboys defensive linemen and fourth most on the defense. All that work may have played a part in a late-season fade and some injuries.

He quickly rose to stardom with a record 33.5 sacks in his first two NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, with that total rising to a record 42 after three seasons. However, Smith got sidetracked off the field.

In 2013, Smith was arrested on suspicion of DUI after crashing his truck into a tree in a residential neighborhood in San Jose, California. In 2014, the NFL suspended him for nine games for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies.

In August 2015, Smith was released by the Niners the day after he was arrested on hit-and-run, DUI and vandalism charges. He signed with the Raiders a month later but was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Smith was released by the Raiders in 2018 after he was arrested on multiple charges, including domestic violence, assault and false imprisonment.

Smith pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanor charges in November 2018 to settle his domestic violence case from earlier that year.

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Green Bay Packers claim Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison off waivers

Another run-stopper is on the way to the Green Bay Packers to perhaps help them evade getting run out of the playoffs like last campaign.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers on Wednesday, according to the NFL transaction wire.

The Packers did not informed the move.

The Seahawks waived the 32-year-old defensive tackle on Monday after Harrison requested his release. All players waived at this point in the season are subject to waivers, and Harrison said in a tweet after his release that he was not interested in getting claimed.

However, in response to a tweet that suggested he might actually play for the Packers given that they’re a Super Bowl team and one that was on his list of teams he planned to meet with before he signed with Seattle earlier this season, Harrison responded with a one-word tweet that read: “Bingo.”

A source told ESPN that Harrison assured the Packers he would report to and play for Green Bay.

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The Packers rank 14th in rushing yards permitted but 24th in yards per carry — a slight improvement over last season. But their run defense let them down in the NFC Championship Game, when the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards en route to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers (12-3) triumph Sunday’s regular-season finale versus the Chicago Bears, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have a first-round playoff bye. Even if they have to play on wild-card weekend, they could get Harrison through the COVID-19 protocols and ready for that weekend.

They were granted a roster exemption for Harrison.

The Seahawks signed Harrison to the practice squad Oct. 7 and he made his first appearance in a game on Nov. 15 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He played 138 total snaps in six games before he requested his release.

At the time, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was under the impression that Harrison no longer wanted to play. “He’s decided to stop playing,” Carroll said Monday during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“He’s done playing. I talked to him this morning. He’s in good spirits and all of that. He’s really grateful for the opportunity in playing here, and he did really well by us, but he just … he’s done.”

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Seattle Seahawks designate Quinton Dunbar, Rashaad Penny as returns to practice

The Seahawks designated cornerback Quinton Dunbar (injured reserve) and running back Rashaad Penny (physically unable to perform) to return to practice this week.

Dunbar has missed the past four games with a knee injury. Penny, Seattle’s 2018 first-round pick, is working his way back from the ACL tear he suffered last December.

Coach Pete Carroll said Dunbar would practice Wednesday but didn’t offer any assurance he’ll play Sunday versus the New York Jets, saying the Seahawks don’t have to rush him back with how well D.J. Reed has played of late.

The Seahawks listed 23 players on their injury report Wednesday.

Running backs Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (toe) were limited. Carroll stated Carson was feeling better Monday and that he was hoping he could handle a “full load” this week after carrying eight and 13 times in his first two games back.

With players coming off extended absences like Penny, the Seahawks usually like to see them practice for at least two weeks before letting them to play in a game.

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“We’re really excited to get him back and get him back on the field with us,” Carroll said of Penny. “It’s just been a long haul. It’s very meaningful for him to get back out there, first of all. You really want to see him bang his break and really get down and hit it and give really good tempo in practice.”

Right tackle Brandon Shell, out the past two games with a high ankle sprain, was listed as a limited participant in his first practice since the injury Wednesday.

Carroll said Shell would be plenty motivated to make it back this week so he could play against his former team. Shell spent his first four campaigns with the Jets before signing with Seattle in March and was having a strong debut season with the Seahawks before his injury.

“We’ll ease him back in,” Carroll said. “He’s real anxious to get back. It seems like he’s ready to go.”

Carroll said it won’t be until the end of the week that the team knows what possibilities safety Ryan Neal (hip pointer) or tackle Jamarco Jones (groin) have of playing Sunday. Neither practiced Wednesday.

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