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Seahawks notes: Easop Winston Jr. does his part to make roster cut downs difficult

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — The battle for wide receivers to impress the coaches and earn a spot on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster was won Saturday by former Washington State standout Easop Winston Jr.

Winston is among a handful of players who entered Saturday’s final preseason game at Green Bay hoping to catch the eye of the coaches, who will have some tough decisions to make on the final spot or two at that position when the 53-man roster cut-down time arrives Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Winston, who missed the second preseason game against Dallas with a groin injury, returned this week and keyed a late Seahawks drive that, for a moment, looked like it might propel them to a win.

Winston caught a pass for 30 yards from Drew Lock to start the drive from the 11-yard line, had another reception for 11 yards on a second-and-seven and grabbed another pass for 33 yards to the 2 to set up a 1-yard TD run by SaRodorick Thompson.

The 89 yards on that drive accounted for almost a third of the Seahawks’ 279 yards on a day when the offense had a lot of tough sledding on a field that was wet with a persistent rain.

“That last drive was a really good drive for us,’’ Lock said. “We needed it.’’

How much it will help Winston is hard to know.

The Seahawks have three sure things on its 53-man roster at receiver in DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba. 

The rest of it is hard to read, because of injuries and suspensions. Smith-Njigba is recovering from surgery to repair a slight fracture on his left wrist.

Carroll revealed after the game that Smith-Njigba returned to the team from Philadelphia, where he had surgery, and said he is still optimistic for a quick return. He still did not give a definitive timeline. Carroll said earlier this week that Smith-Njigba may be sidelined three to four weeks.

“He came back to the building and he was playing with the football,’’ Carroll said “He was ready. He was talking like he is OK. His attitude is great. They might say it is going to be 10 days or something. He wants to get going and get running and all of that, so we will see how that works out. He is the kind of kid that we will have to hold back more than anything. I was really pleased about it.’’

Carroll said that Sith-Njigba has “a little brace on’’ his wrist.

That may mean he is not ready for week one, which could mean someone else will be called on. Winston hopes it’s him.

“He has great hands’’ Carroll said. “He catches the heck out of the football all the time, so there is nothing new there, but he came through. You still have to do that in the game. I’m really glad that he got the opportunity to show that and put it on film.”

Burns might be a factor

Veteran cornerback Artie Burns saw significant time on defense through the first three quarters, playing mostly as the nickel, a spot he played much of the week in practice.

Burns, who was a first-round pick of the Steelers in 2016, generally acquitted himself well, potentially creating another tough decision for the team.

Burns had a pass breakup on third-and-12 in the third quarter and the tackle on a fourth-and-two run that came up short late in the second quarter even though he missed a chance at a sack in the first half when he took his shot a little too early. Carroll said he figured Burns was “kicking himself’’ for that.

But Carroll was otherwise impressed.

“He did pretty good,’’ Carroll said. “He left his feet on a sack opportunity that he is kicking himself about. It is probably the first real shot that Artie has had at one of those, so he has to learn. But Artie has done a really good job all camp. He has been really steady. He has been very consistent for us, and very flexible in where he plays and all of that. He helped us out there.”

Burns was contending for a starting job in training camp a year ago before an injury helped open the door for Woolen to take a spot. Burns was re-signed in the spring, which at the time struck some as a strange move given the team’s apparent depth at cornerback. 

Devon Witherspoon’s injury issues and Michael Jackson’s struggles during preseason games could compel them to keep Burns around.

Adding to the complication is that Burns is a vested veteran, meaning he has four or more years in the league and he could be cut but not have to go through waivers and potentially be claimed by other teams, and could be re-signed by Seahawks later.

Injury report 

The Seahawks suffered a few injuries in the game. Here are the updates:

Safety Joey Blount left in the first half with a shoulder injury. Carroll said that he did not have a timeline for his return.

Blount missed the first two preseason games with a lower back injury. He was injured shortly after he was flagged for a personal foul on a play when he impersonated the Aaron Rodgers “discount doublecheck’’ motion after breaking up a pass. 

“I can understand [it] growing up [when he did],’’ Carroll said “… It was his first chance ever and his mind went wacko and he did a little thing there. It kind of cracked me up to tell you the truth, but it was a terrible thought at that time. We just made a terrific play, but I can see where it came from. He might have been 3 or 4 years old the first time he saw that happen.”

Linebacker Devin Bush left with a concussion after making a tackle on a punt in the third quarter.

“He looks like he was in a boxing match with something over his eye, but he is tough as hell. He said that he will be fine,” Carroll said.

Rookie rush end Derick Hall, a second-round pick out of Auburn, suffered what Carroll said was a sprained shoulder.

Asked how many of the new injuries may be serious, Carroll said: “Joey’s shoulder and D-Hall’s shoulder is really what we are talking about and the concussion. We won’t know until we get it looked at. Both of them have like AC sprains, that kind of situation.”



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