RENTON — Uchenna Nwosu is coming off a career season with the Los Angeles Chargers that helped earn him a two-year contract with the Seahawks worth up to $19.05 million, the most Seattle handed to any free agent this year.
Still, the 25-year-old, five-year NFL veteran feels as if he continues to be doubted.
“I feel like people are still sleeping on me,” Nwosu said Wednesday. “I feel like I’m still underrated.”
That might be about to change after the events of the past few days.
On Monday, Nwosu turned in several game-altering plays in Seattle’s 17-16 win over Denver, including a sack of Russell Wilson and a forced fumble at the 1-yard line that the Seahawks recovered — one of two goal-line stands in the second half that helped preserve the lead and the win.
And Wednesday, Nwosu, who also made seven tackles and had a pass defense, was named as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. It’s the first Defensive Player of the Week award for the Seahawks since Bobby Wagner was honored in week eight of the 2020 season.
“It was so good to see him come through in the way and get the opportunities and take advantage and make the big plays that he did,” Carroll said of Nwosu, who played at USC and was a second-round pick of the Chargers in 2018.
After three seasons as a rotational player, Nwosu became a starter a year ago and had five sacks and 17 quarterback hits in 2021. When Seattle went looking for pass rushers to fit the new 3-4 scheme implemented by defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, Nwosu was at the top of the list, signing with Seattle on the day the free-agency signing period began.
Nwosu said he liked the scheme fit as well as the culture of the Seahawks, having heard a lot about Carroll during his time at USC.
“When I saw the opportunity to come here, I jumped on it,” he said.
And as Wednesday’s award showed, so far so good.
“I feel like I’m just trying to work to be able to put some more respect on my name and this is just a step in the right direction,” he said. “I’m gonna keep it up and just keep trying my best to keep proving myself here.”
RB Kenneth Walker III returns to practice
As Carroll said would happen, rookie running back Kenneth Walker III, a second-round pick out of Michigan State, returned to practice Wednesday and was listed as a full participant, after being sidelined a month following hernia surgery.
“I tend to be on the optimistic side of things, but I’m counting on it,” Carroll said when asked about Walker playing against the 49ers Sunday. “He went through the walk-through today, he will get the afternoon practice as well, and he did some stuff last week, which gives us the indication. He has to get through the work and let us know how he feels. Like I’ve said, this is an unusual injury recovery that he’s coming back from. We are relying on a lot how he is telling us he feels. He is really excited and anxious to get going.”
Quandre Diggs, Shelby Harris among those sitting out
Five Seahawks sat out practice Wednesday — safety Jamal Adams (knee), guard Gabe Jackson (veteran rest day/knee), cornerback Artie Burns (groin), safety Quandre Diggs (knee) and defensive end Shelby Harris (back). Diggs and Harris are each veterans who the team might be being cautious with coming off a Monday night game and now heading into a Sunday afternoon road contest.
Adams remains on the active roster for now as he is examining options on how to treat his knee after suffering an injury in the second quarter against Denver.
Every other player was a full participant.
Seahawks sign Tanner Muse to active roster, Christian Jones to practice squad for linebacker depth
Seattle will replace Adams in the starting lineup with Josh Jones and will also use veteran backup Ryan Neal more, mostly in three-safety/dime packages.
But to bolster the depth in the back seven without Adams — who was going to be used some in linebacker roles in three-safety formations — the team signed Tanner Muse to the active roster from the practice squad and signed veteran linebacker Christian Jones to the practice squad.
Muse, a third-round pick of the Raiders in 2020 out of Clemson, saw action in six games last year on special teams and played 11 special teams snaps against Denver with two tackles. But he will now become a fourth inside linebacker on the roster.
Jones, a nine-year veteran out of Florida State, has 74 career starts with the Bears and Lions and crossed paths in Chicago with Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt for three years when Hurtt was an assistant there. Hurtt said Wednesday that familiarity with the scheme Hurtt is now using in Seattle could allow Jones to be a factor quickly if he is needed.
The 31-year-old Jones had been a free agent since his contract with the Bears expired in March.
To add depth at the safety spot, the Seahawks re-signed rookie Scott Nelson to the practice squad. Nelson was with Seattle throughout training camp but was released last week. Nelson played 77 snaps in the preseason and made six tackles.
Seahawks sign Carson Tinker to active roster
The Seahawks on Wednesday also signed snapper Carson Tinker off the practice squad Wednesday to take the place of Tyler Ott, who was placed on injured reserve. Carroll said Ott is scheduled to have surgery on his shoulder.
Tinker handled all of the snaps Monday as a practice squad elevation.
The signings of Tinker and Muse puts Seattle’s active roster at the maximum 53.