Seattle Seahawks: Greg Scruggs

When asked where he thinks his team has improved from last season, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had an interesting comment after the last day of minicamp.

“I think the defensive line, depth-wise, is really good,” Carroll said. “I’m really excited about that.”

It’s quite a statement considering the Seahawks lost three veterans on the defensive line in defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant.

So let’s look at the possibilities a little closer. Clemons, Bryant and McDonald accounted for 11 sacks, 97 tackles, six passes defensed, two fumble recoveries, one interception and 1,496 snaps played.

That’s a lot of production to replace. At the end spots, the Seahawks will be replacing them with younger, unproven players.

Vying for those spots are rookie Cassius Marsh and Jackson Jeffcoat, second-year player Benson Mayowa and third-year player Greg Scruggs, who missed all last season with an injury.

The Seahawks did add veteran help at defensive tackle last week in six-time Pro Bowler Kevin Williams, an outstanding replacement for what they lost in McDonald.

Carroll also has high hopes for second-year defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, the Australian who missed his rookie year with a knee injury.

“I thought that maybe Jesse was done,’’ Carroll said. “We didn’t know coming out [of Alabama] last season. But he’s had a tremendous offseason. His rehab work was great. He worked every day. He’s ready to get in the middle of it.

“To bring that guy back to us at full speed could be really a great addition. He’s one of those guys that comes to us, and Jordan Hill, too, that didn’t play for us last year, and Benson Mayowa, who didn’t play at all to speak of. Those guys come back and with their redshirt year behind them. They really add to the roster and the competitiveness of the whole thing.”

Carroll also is optimistic about what’s he’s seeing from Marsh, a fourth-round draft pick from UCLA.

“He’s got great quickness,” Carroll said of Marsh. “And he’s a real savvy pass-rusher for a brand new guy. He looks like we hoped he would look. We moved him around quite a bit. He understands the game and is able to demonstrate the flexibility to play a lot of spots like Mike Bennett plays. He’s made a really good impression.”

When it's all said and done, maybe this group of defensive linemen will be better overall than last season's bunch, but it’s a lot to live up to on the field.
RENTON, Wash. -- Here are a few observations on the defense from the first day of organized team activities (OTAs) this week for the Seattle Seahawks, along with some comments from coach Pete Carroll.

The media’s only access was Tuesday, but a few things stood out:

Whoa Mayowa: I think those 15 pounds guard James Carpenter lost were transferred over to defensive end Benson Mayowa, and that’s a good thing. Bigger and stronger (possibly 265 now) is just what was needed for Mayowa to step up and make an impact as a Seahawks pass-rusher.

He was really active in the Tuesday practice and looks up to the challenge he will face from rookies Cassius Marsh and Jackson Jeffcoat, along with Greg Scruggs, who is healthy again after missing last season with a torn ACL.

Scruggs gets praise from Carroll: Speaking of Scruggs, he had an interception on Tuesday and played with a lot of intensity.

“He’s really determined,” Carroll said. “He’s worked so hard through this offseason. He’s ready to go physically. It’s been a long haul for him. I feel really good about him being back out with us.

“It seems like he’s been a part from this for so long. I think he’s ready to max it out and he’s going to get a great chance to be a big part of it. Our expectation is he will be a factor right there in the rotation.”

Toomer the boomer: Linebacker Korey Toomer stood out in the rookie minicamp and kept it up on Tuesday in the first OTA. He had a stop in the backfield and another at the line of scrimmage on a run up the middle. Toomer was playing inside and outside, and looked good in both spots. After spending his first two years on injured reserve, it’s obvious why the Seahawks kept him around.

A battle at defensive tackle: Brandon Mebane has one defensive tackle spot locked down, but Carroll mentioned three players who are in the mix for the DT spot -- returning starter Tony McDaniel and 2013 rookies Jesse Williams (who missed last year with a knee injury) and Jordan Hill.

“I’m excited to get Tony re-signed and get him back here,” Carroll said. “He had a very good year for us in doing the stuff that we wanted him to do. I think he comes in here trying to own that 3-technique spot. That’s what he came here to do. I was really proud that he was able to accomplish that, but guys are nipping at his heels here.

“Jesse Williams will be back out in the next couple of days and working with Jordan Hill. Those guys are battling for that spot. It’s going to be really competitive and it’s going to take a long time to figure that out. There’s no rush. We’ll have to get into pads and through the preseason before we really know what’s going on with that.”

Injuries a small concern: Two of these three are on defense, so I’m listing them here as a group. Not having strong safety Kam Chancellor (hip surgery), right tackle Russell Okung (toe surgery) and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (ankle surgery) on the field was noticeable to everyone.

All of them are expected back for training camp, but no one knows for sure until it gets here. All three men are key players for the Seahawks.
RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks reached the 75-man roster limit Tuesday by placing receiver Percy Harvin, defensive end Greg Scruggs and cornerback Tharold Simon on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Seattle also placed linebacker Korey Toomer on the reserve/non-football injury list.

Players on the reserve PUP list can return to the active roster in Week 6 of the regular season, however, this doesn't mean the Seahawks expect Harvin back sooner than late November from his hip surgery. This simply is the move at the moment to get to 75.

Starting defensive end Chris Clemons remains on the active PUP list, which gives the Seahawks the option of placing him on the active roster at any time. Clemons is recovering from offseason ACL surgery.

Starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who suffered a groin injury in Monday’s practice, did not work out with the team Tuesday. There was no announcement on his condition.
RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks announced two additional roster reductions Tuesday morning when wide receiver Donavon Kemp was released and veteran cornerback Will Blackmon's contact was terminated.

Both players were free agents who were signed in the offseason. Kemp is a second-year player from Texas-El Paso and Blackmon is in his seventh season from Boston College.

The Seahawks still are four players over the 75-man limit, but they have four players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list -- defensive lineman Chris Clemons and Greg Scruggs, receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Tharold Simon. Linebacker Korey Toomer remains on the non-football injury list.