By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll believed Chris Clemons would be on the field Tuesday when the Seahawks opened their three-day mandatory minicamp, even though representatives for the starting defensive end made it clear they had concerns about his future beyond this season.
When practice began Tuesday, Clemons was nowhere to be found at the Seahawks facility and he's not expected anytime this week.
For a change, the biggest story surrounding the Seahawks doesn't revolve around the three-way quarterback competition between Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson.
"In communication with Chris, I thought he was coming, so this was a little bit of a late development that he's not. I'm a little surprised that he's not here," Carroll said. "We've had open communication with the agent and Chris and feel like everything is on the up and up and very amicable and all of that. It continues to be one of our priorities and we would like to get him back."
Clemons' absence was noticeable since he was one of just two players missing Tuesday. The other was tryout candidate Brian Banks, who was recently exonerated in a California rape case in which he was falsely accused. Banks worked out for the Chiefs on Tuesday and is expected to join the Seahawks for the rest of their minicamp on Wednesday.
It's a risky time for Clemons to take a stand. He is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $4 million and has proven to be Seattle's most effective pass rusher with 11 sacks in each of the past two seasons. But his presumptive replacement is already in place in rookie Bruce Irvin, who is learning some of the things that Clemons has been asked to do in the past.
Seattle hoped the offseason would be spent with Clemons passing on his knowledge to Irvin. It didn't turn out that way.
The Seahawks could fine Clemons up to $60,000 if he misses all three days of minicamp. Clemons' agent, Don Henderson, did not return a message seeking comment.
"We're talking about future stuff. He's got another year on his contract so we're talking future potential stuff," Carroll said. "It's something we've had our eye on for some time with him. He's done a very good job for us in the first couple of years with us and we're really pleased with his play and his work habits and stuff. I'm a little bit surprised we're not able to get further than we are but we'll see what happens."
Asked if Clemons' stance could continue into training camp, Carroll said, "I don't know."
Clemons, 30, started a combined three games with Washington, Oakland and Philadelphia before being traded to Seattle before the start of the 2010 season. Carroll saw him as the perfect fit for the "LEO" position on Seattle's defensive line and Clemons has thrived in that spot.
The decision to draft Irvin was a surprise, but he could instantly be seen as competition for Clemons. When Irvin was drafted, the Seahawks said they wanted him to initially fill the role of a pass rusher opposite Clemons on obvious passing downs, a spot that Raheem Brock held the past two seasons.
Now Irvin is being thrust into working with the Seahawks starters with Clemons not around. That means learning techniques he never did at West Virginia, like dropping into pass coverage during certain defensive packages. Carroll is confident Irvin could step in and be the starter if necessary.
"Extra work doesn't hurt. They're teaching me how to drop back in coverage ... a lot of it is new," Irvin said. "Like I said, every day I'm striving and keep getting better. ... It's like some brand new shoes you have to break in."
Irvin later added, "I'll be glad when (Clemons) shows up and I can learn from the guy who plays the same position as me."
Notes: Former Tampa Bay WR Antonio Bryant is having a tryout with the Seahawks this week. Bryant has not played since the 2009 season. ... Carroll said WR Golden Tate has a small crack in his right hand and is being limited this week. He's expected to be fine by the start of training camp. ... WR Sidney Rice was not wearing a red jersey for the first time in offseason workouts on Tuesday, but was doing the same amount of work as previous workouts. Rice is coming off surgeries on both shoulders.
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