What we learned: Big names returning for Seahawks?

Super Bowl aspirations are in the air in Seattle this year. Their dreams are more realistic than most.

With a loaded defense and a passing game that looks better than ever, the Seahawks are among the NFC favorites, if not the favorite. Settling some pressing injury concerns before camp ends would only help matters.

Pete Carroll said Thursday that running back Thomas Rawls (ankle) and tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) are both nearing a return to the field.

"Both those guys are pushing really hard," Carroll said. "We're about going day-to-day with those guys now. We're getting really close."

Rawls is viewed as the safer bet to play in Week 1, although predicting returns from serious injury is risky business. These are clearly two of the most important players to the Seahawks offense. If they both return in full health, it could be a top-five unit once again.

In the meantime, veteran Christine Michael has taken the lead among Seahawks running backs. With rookie C.J. Prosise on the shelf, Michael and rookie Alex Collins have handled most of the practice work. Coaches have lauded Michael's improved maturity. His talent has never been a question. Rawls' status is one to watch closely in August. It would not be a surprise to see the Seahawks bring him along slowly and share the football early in the season.

The Seahawks also have questions on their offensive line. They will welcome free agent guard Jahri Evans in for a visit Friday, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. If Evans signs, they could move first-round pick Germain Ifedi to right tackle. (Ifedi has reportedly impressed during camp.)

This is not a perfect roster. There are no perfect rosters in the salary cap era. The Seahawks have proven this decade, however, that they know how to develop their strengths and cover up their weaknesses.

Here's what else we learned Thursday:

  1. Nick Foles' decision to join the Chiefs left the Cowboys still without a solid backup quarterback. Rapoport reported that Dallas has "hit pause" on acquiring a veteran, in large part because the pricetag to McCown is higher than they'd like. McCown could be available in a potential trade, but the Cowboys don't want to give up much for him.

McCown, meanwhile, said all the right things about the situation on Thursday. It is clear he is not being given a real chance to start in Cleveland. He said he spoke with the Browns about the situation, and the two sides are "on the same page." The Browns are open to trading McCown and it sounds like McCown won't get in the way. Give this one some time.

  1. How dire is the Cowboys' quarterback situation? Short on options after backup Kellen Moore's injury, coach Jason Garrett took some snaps at practice Thursday.
  1. Darrelle Revis will go down as the best cornerback of his era, and now he could be ready to walk the same path many all-time great cornerbacks took before him.

Revis admitted Thursday during an interview on WFAN that he could eventually move to safety. It's a transition that would make a lot of sense, perhaps as soon as next season. Like Rod Woodson or Charles Woodson before him, Revis' incredible football intelligence could keep him very effective well into his thirties. Now he just needs to prove that his wrist problems from a year ago are a thing of the past.

  1. In other high-profile cornerback news, Josh Norman is already finding out that his new contract is bringing him a lot of scrutiny. Teammate DeSean Jackson was put in the awkward position of trying to justify Norman's struggles to slow down Jackson and Pierre Garcon down in practice. We're talking practice. It's not a big deal.

Enough folks noticed Norman struggling in practice for it to become a national story, and for Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson to call Norman's recent high Madden rating "a joke."

"That guy? Come on, man," Norman said about Peterson on Thursday, via ESPN. "Be No. 4 and be happy. Come on, don't talk about me, I'm not talking about you."

  1. I love this passage from the Washington Post detailing the conclusion of a long drive at the end of practice Thursday:

"While (Bashaud) Breeland signaled (Pierre) Garcon was out of bounds, (Kirk) Cousins ran up and congratulated Garcon. Bruce Allen had signaled touchdown as he watched from the sideline, so Cousins told the arguing cornerback, 'Bruce said he's in! He's the president of the team! Drive of the century!'"

That's the type of high-level energy/dorkiness that gets you through the dog days of camp.

  1. Another day, another article touting the impressive performance of the Panthers' rookie cornerbacks. Veteran Bene' Benwikere may wind up playing the slot between James Bradberry and Daryl Worley. Both players have enjoyed a great camp.
  1. An article I didn't expect to read this month: Terrance West could potentially start at running back for the Ravens.
  1. Veterans don't often get the attention in camp, so we found this note from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune interesting. Defensive end Everson Griffen has "easily" been the best player in camp this year. Griffen has steadily improved throughout his six-year career, and he's now one of the better ends in the league.

"Everson has had two very good seasons and, to me, is a better all-around player than Jared Allen was," Mark Craig writes.

If Griffen takes another step this year, the Vikings would be among the best defensive lines in football.

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