With the Seahawks, three is no longer the magic number.
The jersey number Russell Wilson wore for the Seahawks for 10 glorious seasons, in two Super Bowls, while winning Seattle’s only NFL championship — the gray version of which is on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio — is now...Artie Burns’ number.
Monday, after they learned 2022 Pro Bowl cornerback Tariq Woolen was having arthroscopic knee surgery the next day, the Seahawks signed back Burns. The veteran cornerback spent 2022 with Seattle, but didn’t play. He got hurt in training camp. Woolen and Michael Jackson on the other side then took the Seahawks’ two starting cornerback spots for last season.
Thursday, Burns trotted onto the practice field for the team’s third of nine organized team activities (OTAs) practices wearing number 3. It’s the first time someone other than Wilson has worn a white number 3 Seahawks practice jersey in more than a dozen years. Wilson always wore a no-contact red jersey in practice, as all of Seattle’s quarterbacks do.
No one wore 3 last season, after the Seahawks traded Wilson to the Denver Broncos in March. The last player other than Wilson to wear 3 in a Seahawks game? Kicker Josh Brown, from 2003-07.
Burns wearing it in May doesn’t mean number 3 will be used this coming Seattle season. He is no lock to make the team out of training camp.
The Seahawks expect Woolen to return to practicing at right cornerback in time for the start of training camp the last week of July. Devon Witherspoon, the team’s first-round pick and the fifth-overall choice in this year’s draft, is already locking down the left-cornerback job. Coby Bryant, another 2022 draft pick who shined last season as a rookie, is returning as the nickel/slot cornerback inside for 2023. Jackson re-signed to be the backup to Witherspoon and Woolen.
Tre Brown is back healthy after two seasons of injuries. Brown is Seattle’s fourth-round pick in 2021 who intrigues coach Pete Carroll.
Burns is a former first-round pick by Pittsburgh who also played with Chicago before he signed with Seattle last year. He will only be wearing Wilson’s old number during the 2023 season if he proves in training camp to be more valuable than Jackson or former New York Jet Isaiah Dunn as a veteran backup to Woolen and Witherspoon.
Burns was the second right cornerback and Brown the second left cornerback Thursday.
Wilson’s decade in Seattle ended on less than amicable terms. He essentially forced his trade. League sources have verified the validity of a report last year from The Athletic that Wilson asked team chair Jody Allen if she’d fire coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider before the Seahawks traded him.
Carroll and Schneider did not dispute that.
“There’s nothing I’m commenting about that,” Carroll said at the 2022 NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, a week after that story came out, “but to say that stuff is said, it’s always been said, for years. And guys come and go with their thoughts, and their emotions, and all that.
“And I ain’t worried about it.’’
Schneider said the same day in March 2022: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.
“I’m kidding. That was a joke.
“Honestly, like water under the bridge.”
The Seahawks have handed out jersey numbers of their icons from their Super Bowl teams before this.
Many Seattle fans saw it as blasphemy that safety Shalom Luani in 2018, then cornerback Jamar Taylor for a time in 2019 wore Marshawn Lynch’s number 24. Lynch left the Seahawks after the 2016 season, then returned late in 2019.
It remains jarring to many to see current Seahawks running back DeeJay Dallas wearing number 31. That’s the jersey now-retired Kam Chancellor literally rocked while blasting opponents as Seattle’s iconic safety and soul of those championship teams 10 years ago.
Richard Sherman’s old number 25 became the jersey of running back Travis Homer in 2019, two seasons after Sherman last played for the Seahawks.
Two standout exceptions: No Seahawk has worn number 71 since left tackle Walter Jones retired following the 2009 season, on his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The only time a Seahawk has had the number 80 of Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent since Largent retired after the 1989 was when fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Rice briefly played with Seattle in 2004.
What we learned from OTAs week 1
*The starting offensive line changed Thursday. Rookie fifth-round pick Olu Oluwatimi split some first-team snaps with veteran Evan Brown.
Phil Haynes has been the right guard, Damien Lewis the left guard and Charles Cross the left tackle. Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe have been alternating at right tackle with 2022 rookie starter Abe Lucas, who is taking it slowly after his patellar tendon injury late last season.
Lucas did some position drills with the offensive linemen Thursday.
*Rookie fourth-round pick Cameron Young and fifth-round pick Mike Morris are getting big, long looks at nose tackle and defensive end, respectively. Coaches are focusing on footwork and handwork to take on run blockers inside. That’s why they drafted them, to fix a run defense that was broken last season.
Both look quick off the ball.
Young weighs 309 pounds.
“He’s a large man with long arms, big hands, is strong, and is physical at the point of contact,” defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said. “But he’s a guy that has good football awareness, ideas, and feels of things going on.
“In terms of transitioning into a different scheme and how you are going to play him, he has all of that stuff. And you just have to continue to develop and train him to get him up to speed on things. He has done a nice job so far.”
Hurtt said Morris is up to 297, where the coach wants him to play this season. Morris weighed 275 at the combine in March.
The day the Seahawks drafted him early this month, Hurtt told Morris: “Don’t back up from the table. Just keep on eating.”
Morris and Dre’Mont Jones, Seattle’s $51 million signing in March, look to be the defensive ends on early run downs this coming season.
“He’s playing with length. He’s playing strong and using his hands really well,” Hurtt said of Morris. “So I think it’s knowing where he is going to be because he is a super smart kid. He really bought in and has a great work ethic and study habits. I’m excited about where he is headed.”
Geno Smith, Drew Lock, Kenneth Walker coming at you in Pete Carroll’s daily bag drill to start the #Seahawks ’ third OTA practice along sparkling Lake Washington today @thenewstribune pic.twitter.com/GTl3Z0fdR5
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) May 25, 2023
*Tyreke Smith has opened some coaches’ eyes so far as an edge pass rusher. The team’s fifth-round pick last year missed his rookie season injured.
“The guy that’s a very talented rusher from what he’s shown — but obviously he hasn’t done a lot on the practice field, but the early stuff and the drill work in OTAs — has been Tyreke Smith,” Hurtt said. “He’s a very skilled guy with his hands, fluid hips, and his feet, so it will be interesting to see as he continues to progress.”
*Hurtt has spent practice time praising rookie edge rusher Derick Hall, the team’s second-round pick, for his speed off the ball and strength into blocking sleds.
*Rookie running back Zach Charbonnet is 6 feet 1 and 214 pounds. But the speed, quickness and cutting ability the second-round pick has shown is of a smaller guy.
“Zach is another guy, similar to Olu (Oluwatimi), where he has stepped into the building, and you get that true pro feel from the guy right away,” offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said. “He’s really serious about his business and then you notice his size and speed at running back. I know that you can’t tell a whole lot about what’s going to happen when the pads go on when we are out here right now, but you do get the feel where he is playing at a high tempo. He’s a big back, he has a toughness about him, and he’s really gathering all of the information and is picking up the offense quickly.”
*Will Dissly is running and leaping easily and catching passes like his unusual leg injury from late last season that had Carroll wondering if his tight end would need surgery never happened. Dissly didn’t need surgery.
Kenneth Walker, the Seahawks’ 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie last season, practicing catching punts during the special-teams part of OTA number 1.
It’s OK. It’s May. @thenewstribune pic.twitter.com/2Xa32W9WKl
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) May 22, 2023
*Absences from the voluntary workouts this past week: punter Michael Dickson, outside linebacker Darrell Taylor (Monday), wide receiver DK Metcalf (Thursday), Dallas (Thursday), recently signed defensive end Mario Edwards.
Jamal Adams and Jordyn Brooks remain in Texas with the team’s OK rehabilitating from surgeries.
*With Dickson absent, backup quarterback Drew Lock has been holding for Jason Myers’ placekicks.
*The only long snapper on the 90-man offseason roster is likely to be Seattle’s new one for the 2023 season: undrafted rookie Chris Stoll from Penn State.
*Rookie sixth-round pick Jerrick Reed has been the second nickel back behind Bryant.
*Witherspoon apparently really likes the 1994 song Tootsie Roll by 69 Boyz. The rookie cornerback was dancing heartily to it during warmups Thursday.
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) May 26, 2023
Witherspoon, 22, was born six years after that song came out.
*The team has three more OTA practices next week: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s is open to the media.