Seahawks Insider

DE Cliff Avril sits with foot issue

Post by Eric Williams on May 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm with 35 Comments »
May 20, 2013 4:06 pm

The Seattle Seahawks’ options at Leo defensive end are drying up pretty fast.

The team’s leading sack guy the past three seasons, Chris Clemons, was not in attendance at Seattle’s first OTA because he’s back in Georgia rehabbing from ACL knee surgery.

Clemons’ replacement, Bruce Irvin, will not be available because he has to sit out the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

And Cliff Avril, one of the team’s splashes in free agency, did not practice today because of a plantar fascia issue with his foot, which according to Seattle head coach Pete Carroll he injured four weeks ago.

So is Avril’s injury serious?

“Well, it hurts,” joked Carroll. “You could ask him about it. The plantar fascia thing is a real uncomfortable thing. You just have to wait it out.

“It’s something that you can come back from. It’s not a problem. But you just have to wait it out. He’s real anxious to go, and he’s doing very well in his rehab. And he runs some this week for the first time. So it will take another couple weeks at least.”

Defensive end Red Bryant and tight end Zach Miller had to deal with a torn plantar fascia in their foot during the second half of last season.

Along with Avril, running back Christine Michael (hamstring), cornerback Tharold Simon (foot), offensive lineman James Carpenter (knee) and tight end Cooper Helfelt (unknown) did not practice today.

Tight end Anthony McCoy suffered an ankle injury coming out of a cut during 7-on-7 and had to be carted off the field.

We had a chance to see the experimentation with Irvin moving to outside linebacker today. Irvin worked at SAM outside linebacker with the second unit.

Irvin appeared comfortable dropping in coverage defensively during passing drills.

Seattle’s front seven with the starters included Bryant at base end, Brandon Mebane at one-tech, Tony McDaniel at 3-tech, Michael Bennett at Leo, Malcolm Smith at SAM, Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker and K.J. Wright at Will.

On third-down situations, Mebane and Bryant played defensive tackle, Irvin and Bennett played defensive end, and Antoine Winfield came in for Smith at nickel.

Offensively, Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, Max Unger, J.R. Sweezy and Breno Giacomini (left to right) were Seattle’s starting offensive line.

Percy Harvin saw plenty of time at flanker today, with Sidney Rice mostly watching from the sidelines.

Harvin made a couple explosive plays, including getting behind safety Jeron Johnson for a big play.

“The word around here is just competitiveness,” Harvin said. “Anytime I go against (Richard) Sherman and those guys, we’re just looking to make each other better. And anytime I step on the field, I’m looking to make myself better. Just going against those guys – they’re one of the best defenses in the league – I take it upon myself that if I can beat those guys, I’ll be pretty good on Sundays against other guys.”

Some tidbits

*Along with Clemons, running back Marshawn Lynch did not attend today’s voluntary workout. However, Carroll said that Lynch was at the team’s facility 10 days ago and appeared to be in good shape.

“He working on a really intense program in his area,” Carroll said. “And he’s benefitting from it. But we’d love to see everybody here.”

* Backup quarterback Josh Portis looked motivated to make folks forget about his recent DUI arrest. He showed good anticipation in completing several throws down the field during 2-minue and in 7-on-7 today.

* Sixth round selection Spencer Ware continued to get plenty of reps at fullback and running back today.

* Receiver Doug Baldwin looked quick and explosive out on the field. He appears to be healthy and back to playing the way he did as a rookie.

* Cornerback Walter Thurmond also was healthy and practicing today. Thurmond worked at nickel cornerback with the second unit defense.

* Mike Morgan looks like he’s added a few pounds, and worked as a Leo defensive end with the second unit defense.

* Seventh round draft choice Ty Powell also is working at the Leo position.

Notes from practice
Leave a comment Comments → 35
  1. Well, shucks…

  2. “*Cornerback Walter Thurmond also was healthy and practicing today. Thurmond worked at nickel cornerback with the second unit defense.

    Most people who say “book it” are usually jokes here and has kind of become a joke in and of itself…

    I’ll throw my reputation on the line and say that Thurmond is the third best DB for the Seahawks this year, after Sherm/ET if he ***can*** stay healthy…

    I’ll take a healthy Thurmond and day of the week over Chancellor (and his new/big contract) or Browner (or Winfield at his age)…

    Maybe Mr. Happy is mad at him for not taking the right amount of PEDs?

    Thurmond is one of the best players on this team… copy/paste this for next year and I’ll eat crow if I’m wrong…

  3. Ewalters7354 says:

    Like you said bobby he just has to stay healthy.But I’ll really be looking out for Jeremy Lane this camp.I believe he can develop into one hell of a corner this year.

  4. McCoy carted, Fells re-signs. On this team do not leave the door ajar as it may get locked behind you.

  5. pabuwal says:

    I’m with you on Thurmond BobbyK.

    Red Bryant at DT on 3rd down? I wonder if that had to do with them keeping Bennet At Leo because of Avril/Irvin/Clemons or will Red play DT on 3rd Down either way?

    Is Sweezy the favorite to win the LG job?

    What was the point of having Rice watch from the sidelines?

  6. RDPoulsbo says:

    As much as I’ve wanted Thurmond to finally break out, he just keeps breaking. At some point, you just have to move on. I’m also wanting to see Lane take the next step, but I think he’s more being groomed to succeed Browner rather than to be a nickel CB.

    I’m not worried about injuries right now. It’s OTAs and they hold guys out for hangnails at this point, but if Carp isn’t healthy by now, then you have to conclude that he was rushed back and re-injured it in spite of people wanting to claim to the contrary a few months ago.

    I think Ware is headed to the PS this year, but Real Rob should be looking over his shoulder. Teams don’t draft FBs anymore and the Hawks did just that. That’s competition he’ll need to take seriously.

  7. FleaFlicker says:

    BobbyK: you’ve been banging that Walter Thurmond drum (quite loudly, I might add) for a while. Let’s hope your prediction comes true and we have another young superstar in the defensive backfield!

    If I had to bet a dollar, I’d be in your camp. Plenty of injury-plagued guys have come and gone, and there has to be a reason for keeping WT in the mix. Trust in PC/JS…..

  8. sluggo42 says:

    Ditto on Thurmond, dude has had the worst luck ever with weird injuries.
    Avril needs to rest his foot. Figures…right where the Irvin scandal sits

  9. Dukeshire says:

    Eric – Smith at Sam and Wright at Will?? Really? Wow. Can you please confirm that’s correct because that signals a significant change. I can understand Wagner and Wright in nickel, but a total flip flop in base? Huh…

  10. Dukeshire says:

    And I’m going out on a limb a say Bennett wasn’t at Leo. They really ran an under with Bennett at end? Well hell, if Smith is a strong side backer now anything’s possible.

  11. sluggo42 says:

    Loving harvin in the mix, working against the d and both get stronger. Fantastic

  12. sluggo42 says:

    I wonder how Antoine Winfield looked…

  13. No Jordan Hill?

  14. montanamike2 says:

    What’s next? Holy shxx what a week!
    Portis just found a way to make sure he doesn’t make the cut, like Southendzone said last post that JJ might be our sleeper #3, maybe even #2. I hope we have some pass rush for the first month or so.

  15. fijihawksfan says:

    If Irvin can play Sam, look for K.J. to move back into the middle and Wagner to move to Will, where he belongs.

  16. Dukeshire: Under front, which as you know the WILL in Under front is the SAM.

    From my eyeballs, Bennett was playing Leo in base. It did not look like a traditional 4-3 front. But again, this is OTAs and they are experimenting.

  17. Dukeshire says:

    Eric – With due respect, I think you may misunderstand the scheme. “The SLB plays the tight end in man-to-man with this front…” and “The WLB has the A gap to the weak side…” Unless I’m missing something, the Will play the weak side and Sam the strong. No?

  18. Dukeshire says:

    Regardless, I’m so happy to have a practice report.

  19. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I am.

    If Cliff Avril’s foot is as bad as mine (which I doubt since he has medical staff tending to it and is taking time off), then he’s probably going to miss the season. I have a torn fascia (which started as plantar fasciitis) and cannot walk very well at all. It’s only getting worse as days go on, and I’m trying to nurse it back to health and avoid surgery (which is unlikely). I hope his case is not as bad as mine.

  20. Irvin covering a TE down the field seems like a bad idea…..

  21. sluggo42 says:

    Egads rad, that is a dire proposition. I suffer from gout on occasion, and it hurts like crazy. But it’s treatable. Yours doesn’t sound like a few days of meds…
    Hoping Pete’s timetable is more accurate than yours…

  22. RDPoulsbo says:

    I’ve mentioned it before, but Irvin in coverage isn’t that crazy of an idea if you’re mixing in exotic zone blitzes with guys like Clemons, Bennett, Avril, etc. on the field. Not every TE is Gonzalez and offenses would have a hard time recognizing where the pressure is coming from.

  23. Sekolah says:

    “Irvin covering a TE down the field seems like a bad idea..”

    He has the speed to run with any TE in this league. I don’t know how his coverage skills have grown but we’ll see soon enough. At one point or another, Irvin’s going to have to grow into more than just a situational pass rusher. He has freakish athleticism that would be nice to exploit in different ways than just sending him after the QB on 3rd and long – now it’s time to let coaching turn him into a multi-faceted problem for an offense to deal with.

    Carroll has pretty much shown that while he’s willing to experiment with players he’s not going to ask them to do things that they can’t do. Aaron Curry was given about a year to show Carroll and staff that he could be a pass rusher. He couldn’t do that, and they immediately stopped working him as an edge rusher and had him focus on being just a linebacker; as it turns out he wasn’t doing a very good job of that either.

    The idea is to turn Irvin into something akin to Clay Matthews – a long, lean, relentless pass rusher with enough athleticism and instincts to play in space, and in coverage. I think we’d all be happy to see Irvin become that kind of player.

  24. Sekolah says:

    “Harvin made a couple explosive plays, including getting behind safety Jeron Johnson for a big play.”

    LOL. Get used to that being a regular spectacle at practices. Jeron Johnson is probably one of the worst pass defenders the team has at the safety spot.

  25. fijihawksfan says:

    Irvin is actually a helluva an athlete. He’s just raw. Take a look at his numbers from the combine. His 3-cone drill was like off the charts. I saw him rated as a third-rounder and hoped we could steal him in the second. But with scouting these days there aren’t too many secrets.

  26. Plantar Faschitis is treatable – Distance runners have to deal with it all the time. It is very painful, but can be treated, as long as it is done BEFORE it gets too bad. Now – a guy pushing 300lbs could be a factor in slowing down the recovery.

  27. Bobbyk–And Im going to put whatever reputation I have on the line saying Browner will be a better player–and the starter at RCB–rather than Thurmond. In fact, I think Winfield will play more than Thurmond, though it wont bother me if Im wrong on that count.

    Thurmond, while a good player–and aside from the fact he’s made of glass–is not nearly physical enough to out-play Browner.

    Im sick to death of people on this blog taking Browner for granted. Jeez, did you guys actually watch what he does on any given play?!

  28. As for the business with Seattle using Smith at WLB, Wright at SAM, and Bennett at Leo, its going on all over the field, at many positions. Seattle is throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. They are experimenting.

    Conventional minds would never have tried Bryant at DE. Nor would they have gone after a never-was CB almost 6′-4″ tall and 225 lbs, nor drafted Irvin at 15. Yet Seattle does those things, and they work. Experimenting this time of year is an awesome way to see if you can improve your team, and make it more than the sum of its parts.

    Da Monstah, Williams, has been worked mostly at Pass rushing DT and 5-Tech DE, or so I heard, when everyone knows he’s suited for the run-stuffing DT position. And he did very well at both spots, though it was only rookie mini camp and no pads.

    They are trying everyone they think can be versatile at multiple positions to see what they can do. I love it. Doesnt mean they really intend to have Bennett play Leo, or Williams at Mebane’s spot and Hill at Branch’s, but they want to know if injuries happen, how they can use guys to fill in the gaps.

  29. Trying Percy Harvin at FL is odd, but also brilliant. They are sending a message to Rice, who is making top-10 WR money, yet in no way shape or form has lived up to it. Message: play at an elite level, or youre replaceable. Always compete means you too Mr. Rice!

    Also, most folks figured Harvin to be a slot/SE guy. Trying him at FL is a great idea, see if he can be used interchangeably, so we can do what NE does–keep the same personnel onfield, then based on what the D does, adjust on the fly to create mismatches the D wont be able to adjust to.

    Doesnt mean Harvin will play FL much or at all, but you never know.

    I love the idea of Seattle forcing players to try new positions and work on weaknesses rather than obsess over their strengths.

  30. Dukeshire says:

    STTBM – Thank you and I understand that, regarding experimenting. However, moving Smith to the strong side and Wright to weak would in fact signal a dramatic shift. One that grabs my attention. And as someone who is fascinated by scheme, especially on defense, when I read something like that, I’m going to ask follow up questions. It’s how I better understand the team as a whole.

    And Williams was primarily at 3-tech during rookie camp, as reported by Eric.

  31. Yes, I also think playing Smith on the strong side and Wright at weak side is a pretty dramatic move, and likely a temporary experiment due to Cliff Avril being sidelined (and Irvin’s impending suspension).

    One of the better advantages of moving a big like Avril or Irvin to the Sam is allowing them to get a strong chuck on the TE at the LOS. This is something we failed at miserably in last year’s playoffs at Atlanta. KJ Wright didn’t do the job, and Irvin, having moved to Leo for that game wasn’t at the LDE where he could help slow Gonzales at the LOS. Gonzales ran free and schooled both Wright and Bobby Wagner. Carroll and Quinn are not going to allow a TE to do that to us next year, so they are going to be working various options on the strong side. I expect Avril and Irvin to both be a part of that. I don’t really see either of them used in a lot of coverage, but throwing the TE off his route early will be on them.

    As for any advantage to having Smith on the strong side? I don’t see that happening on Sundays this year. But the one advantage I can see is that it puts our fastest OLB on the side of the field where Colin Kaepernick most likes to roll out and run. Kaepernick is ENEMY NUMBER ONE this year, and I’m sure they will work on some defensive wrinkles designed specifically to frustrate him.

  32. Dramatic? Certainly. But its experimentation time, and not necessarily what we’ll see during the regular season. Of course, oddball experiments have yielded fruit in the past (ie, Bryant at DE, etc) so why not?!

    I too think putting Wright on a TE is a big change and not necessarily a smart one. He’s just not that fast. Morgan, Smith and Wagner–not to mention Irvin–are all quite a bit faster than Wright, and are decent sized, so would seem to fit the SAM a whole lot better.

    But Wright has proven to be a fine MLB and WILL though limited in pass coverage at MIKE, and so its natural to see Seattle trying him out at WILL just to see what he can do. He’s certainly got the football smarts. And Wagner was beaten badly by Gonzalez, not by speed but by positioning. If Wright can learn how to minimize his lack of speed by better positioning himself to make a play, Im all for it.

    It makes sense to see each player play every position in their grouping to see what mixes of players works–for one thing, that gives you an idea of how to counter injuries etc, for another it can help you decide if you need an extra body at a position grouping or can give up a spot to another group that needs it more because you have several versatile guys.

    I think its great Seattle is moving guys around, as I said. Helps train the players to be more skilled, and you never know when you might find a diamond in the rough.

  33. Duke–I thought Eric mentioned that Williams was playing pass-rush DT more at rookie camp, and Hill playing the run-stuffing role and both did better than expected. Obviously, Williams would seem to be a natural run-stuffer and replacement for Branch, while Hill is the smaller quicker pass-rushing interior lineman to replace Jason Jones.

    Perhaps I confused 3-tech and 1-tech once again. Der!

  34. STTBM – that’s right, Eric did report that Williams began rookie camp at 3DT and Hill at 1DT – the opposite of where we would expect them to play. And it was likely temporary and just part of the coaches getting to watch these guys and learn what they can do.

  35. And, not sure what you were trying to say, STTBM, but Wright has been playing mostly at Sam LB over the TE for the past two years.

    The change is that that he was lined up at Will this week (though they have moved him around a bit in the past in the nickel and bandit defenses)

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