Seattle Seahawks

Dion Bailey goes from overlooked, injured to No. 1 strong safety

Seattle Seahawks safety Dion Bailey works drills during an organized team activity practice in Renton in 2014. Bailey has moved up to the team’s top safety spot with Kam Chancellor holding out.
Seattle Seahawks safety Dion Bailey works drills during an organized team activity practice in Renton in 2014. Bailey has moved up to the team’s top safety spot with Kam Chancellor holding out. AP file 2014

From injured, late-to-begin and forgotten at the start of training camp to the No. 1 strong safety inside the middle of the league’s top-ranked defense.

It’s been a decent week to be Dion Bailey.

Seattle’s 2014 undrafted free agent from USC moved past DeShawn Shead as the fill-in for holdout Kam Chancellor on Monday during the Seahawks’ ninth practice of training camp.

Chancellor continued to stay away. His 11-day holdout could now cost the team leader a maximum of $530,000 in fines, if the Seahawks choose to sanction him.

Bailey’s rise — and coach Pete Carroll gushing how no one can deny how productive he has been in the past few days — felt like a point of emphasis on how the team is moving on without Chancellor.

Bailey dived in front of backup tight end Anthony McCoy to make an impressive interception of Russell Wilson in the end zone during a red-zone scrimmage.

He may be on the first team for a while this month and that includes Friday night against Denver.

“I’ve got to take advantage of the situation,” he said on the edge of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center practice field, while wearing the the word “Faith” on his eye black over his left cheek.

He said the “greatest thing that’s helping me right now” is having played linebacker at USC. That has him very comfortable and familiar in the run fits of Seattle’s gap defense, the traffic-cop aspects of playing safety and getting every teammate in the right spot from the center of the field just before the snap.

“Rolling down on the run is not a big deal to him. That’s why they had him do that,” Carroll said of his successors at USC on Lane Kiffin’s staff, who played Bailey at linebacker. “But his pass defense has really shown up, though. He’s done very well.”

EXTRA WORK AND CHANGES

Wilson threw late on a “hot” blitz read to Jimmy Graham over the middle near the goal line. The new tight end wasn’t ready for the pass, so it went through his hands to the turf incomplete.

By unofficial count, Graham has dropped just three passes in nine practices.

After Monday’s practice, the two stayed 10 minutes after and worked that same route from the same spot outside the goal line. Carroll said they have a ways to go on being completely in sync on all aspects of passes and routes, including the improvisational ones that are such a big part of Wilson’s game. Carroll isn’t concerned Wilson and Graham won’t get meshed, just that it takes time. It’s only Aug. 10.

▪  Drew Nowak was the first-team center and Keavon Milton was the starting left guard Monday. Their surges seem to be Carroll’s “always compete” mantra spiking just in time for the exhibition games to begin.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable basically said as much with this description of the changes.

“We are just creating as much competition as we can,” he said.

The coaches like how Nowak doesn’t get moved back after the snap, and his knowledge of the overall line play.

Lemuel Jeanpierre has the edge in experience having been backup for five seasons and a part-time, fill-in starter for former Seahawk Max Unger.

▪  Kevin Pierre-Louis again got many plays with the first team at outside linebacker. Carroll said the fourth-round draft choice from Boston College last year, who had his rookie season cut short after seven games by a shoulder injury, was the biggest standout upon the coaches’ review of Saturday’s scrimmage. Expect to see plenty of No. 58 early in the exhibition game Friday against the Broncos.

▪  Tharold Simon had an ice pack on his right knee, apparently a result of his conditioning as he continues to rehabilitate from offseason shoulder surgery. Meanwhile, last week’s trade acquisition from Detroit, Mohammed Seisay, and former wide receiver Douglas McNeil, continue to make positive impressions at backup cornerback. That’s the job Simon had as a rocky rookie and part-time starter in 2014. Carroll said Simon may be back in two weeks.

▪  Jesse Williams was in the team scrimmage, the most extensive work since the third-year defensive tackle had surgery just over two months ago to remove a cancerous kidney.

▪  Earl Thomas watched practice again wearing a team cap and with his cleats slung over his shoulders — including the one he had surgically repaired Feb. 24. Carroll said Saturday that even though the All-Pro free safety is now off the physically-unable-to-perform list Thomas is unlikely to practice fully for at least a couple more weeks. Steven Terrell again was the No. 1 free safety for Thomas.

▪  Third tight end Cooper Helfet missed his second consecutive practice with a cracked rib.

▪  Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin said he added 18 pounds to get stronger against blockers. Carroll said Irvin is having his best camp since he entered the league as Seattle’s first-round draft choice in 2012, and that he’s now stronger yet still as fast as he’s been. Carroll keeps raving about Irvin.

▪  The Seahawks and military-affiliated insurance company USAA will host more than 100 U.S. military members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and the U.S. Coast Guard District 13 at practice Tuesday.

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