RENTON — When the Seattle Seahawks opened their mandatory minicamp Tuesday, there were no questions about who would get the bulk of the reps at quarterback, or concerns about anyone holding out.
This time, the questions were solely about injuries and news was mixed.
The good news came with the return of defensive end Cliff Avril, who had not taken part in most of the Seahawks optional team activities while trying to recover from plantar fasciitis in his foot that put him on the sidelines.
The concerns were about tight end Zach Miller, who walked out onto the practice field with a walking boot on his left foot. Coach Pete Carroll said Miller’s foot was simply sore and that it’s not related to the torn fascia he suffered in the foot during last season’s playoffs.
And the mixed news was about defensive end Chris Clemons, who continues to recover from major knee surgery with the hopes of getting back in time for the season opener.
“The doctor says he is in great shape, he’s ahead and all of that, he’s worked diligently to get there. You guys ask if he’s going to make it by the first game, I don’t know, but he has a chance and if it can happen he’ll make it happen,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Like I said the whole time, we’ll not rush that. We’ll take our time the whole time on that and make sure he’s right. The doctors are greatly confident and he is also, and we’ll start playing him whenever that happens.”
Clemons had not been around during OTAs, but was standing with his teammates throughout Tuesday’s practice. A year ago, he held out of minicamp awaiting a new contract, one that he received before the start of training camp a month later.
“Clem is a great leader on this team, he’s tough as nails, and he really stands for something in this locker room,” Carroll said. “So to have him around is important. It’s great to have him back.”
Seeing Miller in a walking boot immediately drew attention because it was the same foot he injured — and played on — in last season’s playoff loss at Atlanta. Despite the injury, Miller caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.
Seattle is already thin at tight end after losing top backup Anthony McCoy for the season to a torn Achilles tendon.
“I think we know exactly what is going on and it’s not going to be a serious problem, but he needs a little rest,” Carroll said. “He’s worked great, he’s had great work in OTAs, so it does give the other guys a chance to step up and get some good focus work.”
Avril has not been given the clearance to practice completely, but just getting on the field was an improvement over being a spectator and spending time in the training room getting treatment on his foot.
Carroll and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn have tinkered with the idea of using Avril’s athleticism and potentially playing him some at outside linebacker with responsibilities to drop into coverage on occasion. Avril said he’ll do whatever, but feels confident the majority of his time on the field will be spend with his hand down rushing the passer.
“I’m learning both positions, but I’m going to be mostly (an) end,” Avril said. “That’s one of the reasons they brought me here was to pass rush. That’s definitely the main thing. If they ask me to do anything else, I’m more than happy to do it.”