So is it too early to start worrying about the tight end position for the Seahawks?
ESPN’s John Clayton said a resounding “no” to that question on Saturday, going as far as to say it may be a bigger issue than the health of Percy Harvin.
Certainly, that’s not a conventional view considering that the Harvin situation is receiving daily national media coverage while the tight end spot is mostly a local issue.
But as Clayton notes, the injury holding out Zach Miller (pictured above in practice last year) is worth at least raising an eyebrow about. And other than Miller, Seattle has little real depth at tight end with Anthony McCoy having been lost for the year with an Achilles injury in May.
To recap: Miller, who started 15 games last year and caught 38 passes, suffered a foot injury during mini-camp in June. Coach Pete Carroll said it is not related to a foot injury Miller suffered in the playoffs against Atlanta.
Miller has yet to participate in camp, beginning the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
But Carroll said Saturday that Miller could be back soon and that holding him out now is precautionary as much as anything.
“Zach has established himself as a fantastic part of our football team and this is not going to hurt his development at all,” Carroll said, adding he was not worried about Miller not being ready for the season.
“Oh no, not at all,” Carroll said. “Once he comes back, he’s got to stay okay, but I don’t know what his timeframe is because we have to get him on the ground running and make sure he’s in good enough shape before we break him into full-speed practice. The tempo of practice is so high that we have to ease him on in, but we are not worried about him playing at all unless there are some setbacks.’’
The Seahawks have also expressed confidence in their backups to Miller — notably, second-year vet Sean McGrath and rookie Luke Willson.
Carroll said of Willson Saturday that the Miller injury has “has given Luke great shot at getting first team work every day, and the demands out here are great but it’s good for him to have the heat on him a little bit and he’s pushing to get his stuff right and he’s going a very nice job, too.”
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also said referred to the Miller injury as not a major concern and a chance to give the younger players a lot of work early in camp.
“I think it’s great for us to get a look at it what our depth is, where we are at, with Zach sitting out as well,” Bevell said. “It’s good for Zach to take a little bit of the pounding off of him and now we are getting a great look at some of those young guys seeing how they are going to fit in for us.’’
The Seahawks got a good look at McGrath last season, which he spent either on the practice squad or the active roster. Willson, whose receiving is perceived to be ahead of his blocking right now, is the bigger intrigue.
Said Bevell on Saturday of Willson: “There’s a lot for him to work on, just getting a grasp of our offense and things. Right now we have had three installs and it’s just continuing to put one on top of another now here for about four more days. So to be able to grasp all the information, carry it to the field, make sure that he is making the right decision when he is running his route or he is blocking, we want to see him block well. We feel like we know what we can expect out of him in the pass game and we want to see the speed in the pass game, but we need to see how he is going to fit in as a blocker in the NFL.’’
Seattle had three other tight ends on the roster during the off-season — free agents Copper Helfet, Victor Marshall and Darren Fells, all originally undrafted.
Showing, though, that they weren’t done exploring options, the Seahawks then signed free agent Michael Palmer two days before camp opened. Palmer, who spent the last three years with Atlanta and played in 43 games for the Falcons, is now the most experienced tight end on the roster aside from Miller. Palmer is also viewed as more of a blocker than a receiver, and as such could be a complementary player with Miller as well as adding depth.
Palmer’s addition gives Seattle seven tight ends on its roster, including Miller.
The Seahawks, though, don’t appear to be done looking for talent at the spot. B.J. Stewart, who played at Cumberland University, Tweeted Sunday that he will have a tryout with the Seahawks on Monday (here’s more info on Stewart from his own web site):
Headed to Settle tomorrow? Try out with the #Seahawks
— BJ Stewart (@Mr_NextLevel48) July 28, 2013
Stewart had a tryout with the Cowboys in May but was not signed.
Obviously, NFL teams are always on the look out for more talent, so bringing in Stewart doesn’t necessarily indicate any great concern.
Soon, though, Seahawks fans will want to see Miller back out on the field just to make sure.