There’s one remaining unknown in regard to who will take the field for the Seahawks on Sunday against the Falcons: Will it be Tre Flowers or Quinton Dunbar starting at corner opposite Shaquill Griffin?
Pete Carroll said on Monday that he hasn’t made a decision just yet. Nothing has changed now two days later. Even Seattle’s first unofficial depth chart lists “Quinton Dunbar or Tre Flowers” as the starter.
What we do know is that Dunbar is back with the team after being gone on a bereavement leave at the end of last week. He missed Monday’s practice while going through the COVID-19 intake protocol.
“He is here, and he’s ready to go full speed,” Carroll said on Wednesday.
Dunbar joined the team late for camp once he was cleared from the Commissioner’s Exempt List. He was then eased into full-team work in order to avoid injury. Carroll explained that the corner’s missed days to bookend camp won’t impact who wins the competition to start against the Falcons.
“You can tell a little bit, but because of the savvy player that he is and the experience that he has, we’d be comfortable with him playing for us Sunday,” Carroll said. “He’s a really bright kid. Picking up the system has been nothing for him. It’s been really easy. He’s had good, competitive work.”
As for Flowers, he entered training camp as the incumbent to the right cornerback spot. He’s been a two-year starter but had his share of ups and downs in 2019. Those intermittent struggles led to the Seahawks trading for Dunbar this offseason.
Many have been quick to write off Flowers, especially after his poor showing in the postseason last year. He had two pass interference penalties against the Eagles and struggled to keep up with Packers star wideout Davante Adams in the Divisional Round. But there was plenty of good from Flowers’ sophomore campaign. He led the Seahawks with three interceptions, and he also had 2.0 sacks.
Carroll reiterated on Monday that the team has never given up on their fifth-round pick from 2018.
“Tre came back with a level of confidence with two years behind him that he’s benefited from," Carroll said. "He had a really good camp. It was the best he’s been, and he did a nice job.”
The coach added that he noticed Flowers overtrying at times in 2019. That’s common for a young player trying to get his footing in the NFL.
“I think he was pressing last year a lot and didn’t settle in as much,” Carroll said. “He came back with a different outlook. Guys change year-to-year. They grow, and he certainly did.”
Griffin had a similar review of Flowers going into Year 3. Griffin, who took a sizeable step forward in 2019 (his third season) and made his first Pro Bowl, believes Flowers is capable of a similar jump.
“He is a different person,” Griffin said in August. “It's going to be a different ball player, I can tell you that much.”
We aren’t likely to find out who Carroll picks until the defense takes the field for the first time on Sunday. As much as some fans want to write off Flowers, the decision to start Dunbar might not be as obvious as it would seem.