When the Seattle Seahawks kicked off organized team activities (OTAs) on Monday, May 22, there were several veteran players missing as they continue to rehab from previous injuries, but the absence of cornerback Tariq Woolen raised some eyebrows.
Woolen, the Seahawks’ former fifth-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, thrived in his rookie season, finishing third in voting for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. While OTAs are voluntary, Woolen attended the team’s non-mandatory workouts last week, which is when the Pro Bowler injured himself, per ESPN‘s Adam Schefter and Brady Henderson.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll did not address the media on Monday, so the unfortunate update regarding Woolen came as a major surprise.
The 24-year-old suffered a knee injury “while walking on the practice field for OTAs one week ago,” Brady and Schefter reported. Woolen, who tied the NFL’s lead for most interceptions recorded by a rookie (6), must’ve really hurt himself because on Tuesday, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder appears to be in good spirits considering the circumstances and shared a message to fans on his Instagram Stories. The UTSA alum posted a video that showed his No. 1 supporter, Nola Woolen, by his side at the Houston hospital. He captioned the post with several laugh/cry face emojis and wrote, “Moms to the rescue.”
Woolen also shared a post-surgery message, thanking fans for their support. He posted a photo on his Instagram Stories that showed him standing up with a bandage around his knee. “I’m fine and surgery was smooth!!! Appreciate the love.”
Tariq Woolen’s Surgery Went ‘Well,’ He’s Expected to Return to Practice in July
Thankfully, it appears Woolen’s injury won’t cause the starting corner to miss any time during the 2023 NFL season.
“Doctors reviewed the injury, and Woolen’s surgery, which took place in Houston, went as well as doctors could have hoped,” ESPN reported. “Woolen is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July, but the Seahawks also will proceed carefully with their prized cornerback, according to sources.”
The fact that Woolen hurt his knee while simply “walking,” according to the report, caused a stir on Twitter. Seattle Sports host Curtis Rogers tweeted, “As someone who once tore their Achilles while crossing the street, this stuff happens,” while Sports Illustrated’s Corbin K. Smith commented that it was an “odd injury.”
Several fans weren’t exactly buying the story behind Woolen’s injury. One man tweeted, “Unlikely this is true for a 24 year old athlete but relatable!” while another person surmised, “in other words.. hurt the knee outside the facility.. reported it when at the facility. Smart man.”
Regardless, Woolen won’t be at practice for the next month. USA Today‘s Tim Weaver wrote, “With Woolen sidelined and Mike Jackson likely backing up Devon Witherspoon on the left side, the most logical candidates to take over the right boundary spot are Tre Brown and Artie Burns.”
Tariq Woolen’s Mysterious Surgery Explains Why the Seahawks Re-Signed Artie Burns
On Monday, the Seahawks announced they were re-signing Burns, news which made The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell tweet, “Why?” much to DK Metcalf’s chagrin.
However, after learning about Woolen’s injury, Burns’ unexpected return makes sense, especially since several members of the Seahawks’ secondary were already absent at OTAs.
As expected, safety Jamal Adams (quad) and inside linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee) were not in attendance. Outside linebacker Darell Taylor, defensive tackle Mario Edwards, and outside linebacker Alton Robinson were also not there, per The Athletic‘s Michael Shawn-Dugar. Defensive tackle Bryan Mone was in attendance but not active as he recovers from a knee injury.
“Cornerbacks Isaiah Dunn and Jonathan Sutherland, an undrafted rookie out of Penn State, were also held out of practice,” Dugar wrote. The Seahawks’ No. 5 overall pick from the 2023 NFL Draft, cornerback Devon Witherspoon, who participated in the indoor walk-through, is easing back into things due to a previous hamstring injury.