While the Seahawks should be feeling pretty good about the overall health of their roster heading into a Week 12 matchup with the Eagles with the impending returns of running back Chris Carson, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and center Ethan Pocic, not all of the injury news coming out of last Thursday's win over the Cardinals has proved to be positive.
After exiting the 28-21 victory with a foot injury and taking a trip on the cart to Seattle's locker room in the fourth quarter, veteran tight end Greg Olsen officially landed on injured reserve on Monday and will miss at least three weeks. When asked for a timetable for a potential return, coach Pete Carroll indicated the team hoped he could come back in 4-6 weeks, but it depends on the severity of the injury and how quickly he can heal.
Though Olsen only has one touchdown in 10 games and hasn't developed a rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson quite as the Seahawks envisioned when they signed him in February, he still leads all tight ends on the team in receptions and receiving yardage. Considering his on-field leadership, his absence will be missed, even if his statistics haven't been as good as expected.
But "Next Man Up" has been the mantra in the Pacific Northwest since Carroll arrived in 2010 and in this particular situation, Seattle has an intriguing fallback option ready to step up in the form of rookie Colby Parkinson.
Drafted in the fourth round out of Stanford, Parkinson suffered his own foot injury during an offseason workout in June and underwent surgery to repair a Jones fracture. As a result, he didn't participate in training camp for the Seahawks and remained on the Non-Football Injury list until October 31, when he was activated the day before a Week 8 game against the 49ers.
Since then, Parkinson has only dressed for one game and has been a healthy scratch for each of the past three games due the depth in front of him at the tight end position. He has three total NFL snaps to his name and they all came at the end of the San Francisco game when Seattle ran out the clock with three straight kneel downs in victory formation.
Now that Olsen will likely miss three or four games minimum, however, Parkinson will not only be active from here on out but could wind up receiving significant snaps heading towards December. Specifically, he could provide Russell Wilson another dangerous red zone weapon to couple with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and fellow tight end Will Dissly.
Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 260 pounds, Parkinson ran a respectable 4.77-second 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, flashing plus-speed for a tight end of his size. In addition, he didn't drop a single pass during his final season with the Cardinal, flashing elite hands on his way to career-highs with 48 receptions for 589 yards despite having backup quarterbacks throwing to him most of the year.
When Parkinson had better quarterback play to work with, he was one of the Pac 12's premier matchup nightmares. After catching four touchdowns as a true freshman, he broke out with seven touchdowns for Stanford as a sophomore, including setting a school record with four touchdowns in a single game against Oregon State.
As would be the case for any rookie, missing training camp wasn't an ideal scenario for Parkinson, especially considering he was healthy enough to play early in the regular season. But as Carroll told reporters last month, he capitalized on his extended rehab program by hitting the weight room hard, which should help him when he's used as an in-line blocker.
"He's benefited enormously from the offseason program that he's been in," Carroll remarked after Parkinson's first practice. "He looks stronger, he's more fit, he's just pumped up. He's over 6-foot-7, so he looks huge out there."
As Carroll and general manager John Schneider stated after April's draft, both believe he will develop into a true Y-tight end who excels both as a blocker and a receiver. From a technique and strength standpoint, it will take some time for the 21-year old to blossom as a blocker after primarily being a big receiver at Stanford. With Dissly and Jacob Hollister still in front of him on the depth chart, he isn't suddenly going to be thrust into the starting lineup and may only be utilized as a situational player for now.
Nonetheless, considering Olsen and Dissly's prior injury histories, this is one of the primary reasons why the Seahawks drafted Parkinson. Likely the team's future at the position, he should be in line for his first extensive action with Olsen sidelined and given his mix of size, athleticism, and soft hands, he will have a chance to make an impact in the passing game immediately and may also be a sleeper fantasy play.