RENTON The Seahawks are not ruling out Malik McDowell returning from his serious ATV accident and head injuries to play this season.
“We don’t know that yet,” coach Pete Carroll said Friday following the final full practice before Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West lead.
Carroll said Seattle’s top rookie draft choice and defensive lineman has a round of assessments in a couple weeks that will help further determine how possible it is that McDowell returns to the field.
Doctors have had differing opinions about that, Carroll said.
“He’s got some stuff coming up in the next couple weeks--I think it’s within two weeks--that he’ll get reassessed and all that, just to see where we are,” Carroll said. “There’s been some conversation, you know, different camps kind of, about where he is and how he’s doing. So the check-ups are really important. And we’ll just see.
“We have not ruled that thought out, that he can come back.”
Asked what the issue with McDowell is since the accident in his home state of Michigan in mid-July, weeks before he was due to report to his first NFL training camp with the Seahawks, Carroll said: “He had a really bad concussion, is what he had.”
McDowell, who turned 21 in June, spent much of training camp through August at home in Michigan recovering from the accident. The details of it have been kept concealed from normal public-reporting channels among agencies throughout Michigan that act on 911 calls and vehicular accidents.
McDowell has been in the Seahawks’ locker room this week. He has been talking with teammates with no outward, recognizable effects of the accident present at first glance.
At last check he’d been restricted from any workouts, anything football related, for as long as the Seahawks can see. The team had been planning on him being four games into a debut season as a uniquely tall, athletic interior pass rusher on their defensive line by now.
Carroll did say in August team doctors do not believe the injuries are threatening the former Michigan State star’s career.
“We have to wait. He just turned 21,” Carroll said in August. “We’ve just got to wait a while.”
He remains on the Seahawks’ reserve non-football-injury list. That means he does not count against the Seahawks’ 53-man active roster for the regular season. The team could, per league rules for NFI-list players, withhold parts of McDowell’s $465,000 base salary for 2017 that had been guaranteed in the contract he signed in June. But the Seahawks are not expected to do that, nor have they given any indication they will do anything punitive to a promising rookie who’s career has been derailed by his fateful use of an ATV.
Many considered McDowell a top-10 NFL draft pick until a subpar senior season for Michigan State last fall.