The Seahawks were back in pads Thursday for their penultimate practice before Saturday's preseason opener at Las Vegas. Whether it was because of the heat or just the upcoming game, Thursday's session was shorter than usual, but there was still plenty of interesting action. Here are six observations from Thursday's practice:
1. DK Metcalf & Tre Flowers are having some great battles in camp.
Ask any Seahawks defensive back, and he'll tell you that going against DK Metcalf helps make him better. After all, there are only so many 6-foot-4, 235-pound Pro-Bowl caliber receivers walking the earth. And one player who has been having a lot of good battles with Metcalf throughout camp is cornerback Tre Flowers, who is competing for a starting job heading into his fourth season.
Thursday's practice saw those two lining up across from each other on a number of occasions, and each player had some big moments. One of Metcalf's best catches of the game was a back-shoulder grab down the left sideline from Russell Wilson, a play on which Flowers had just about perfect coverage, but that saw Metcalf still come down with the ball. A few minutes later, Wilson tried to hit Metcalf on the sideline again, but Flowers read the play, broke on the pass perfectly and batted it away before it reached Metcalf's hands.
"It's real fun, knowing that he's bringing the best out of me," Flowers said earlier this week when asked about covering Metcalf, before adding with a grin, "but DK is cocky, you've got to talk to him a lot. Anytime you get to break up a ball, you've got to let him know something."
2. John Ursua had a good day.
Third-year receiver John Ursua is caught up in a deep battle at his position, so a big day for any one receiver can be significant, and after Cody Thompson turned in an impressive performance Wednesday, Ursua stepped up with some impressive catches on Thursday. Ursua's best catch might have been a leaping grab over the middle on a laser of a pass from Geno Smith, and he also had a touchdown in the red zone on a scramble drill play after Wilson rolled left and found Ursua low in the front corner of the end zone.
3. Tre Brown plays bigger than his size.
At 5-foot-10, Tre Brown is smaller than the typical outside cornerback in a Pete Carroll defense, but just as he did at Oklahoma, the fourth-round pick continues to show that he can play a lot bigger than his size. That was never more evident than on a play late in practice when Brown went over Metcalf's back on what looked like an easy reception for the big receiver, then fought for the ball as the two went to the ground, eventually jarring it loose for an incomplete pass.
As the 5-foot-9 Ugo Amadi put it when asked about the team's cornerbacks backs like Brown and D.J. Reed, "Hey, little dogs got heart. We've got courage."
4. Welcome back, Darece Roberson.
Receiver Darece Roberson was waived on Tuesday, then re-signed on Thursday, and in his return from a very brief time away, Roberson wasted little time making his mark in practice. Teaming up with quarterback Geno Smith, Roberson was part of one of the best plays of the day for an offense, getting open deep and running under a perfectly thrown deep ball from Smith for a long touchdown reception.
5. Toe punch for the win.
Thursday's practice came to fun conclusions, with Pete Carroll having one offensive player and one defensive player compete in a kicking contest. Starting from 20 yards away, Ahkello Witherspoon, who played soccer into high school, made both of his attempts, as did running back Alex Collins, who went old school with a straight-on toe-punch approach. The ball was then moved back for a 30-yard attempt, and Witherspoon's attempt missed just left, while Collins split the uprights, giving him and the offense a victory he celebrated with a quick Irish dance.
6. Personnel updates.
The most notable new absence on Thursday was that of tight end Colby Parkinson, who has been having a strong camp. On a positive note, linebacker Cody Barton, who has been out since last week with a quadriceps injury, was back on the field. Otherwise, the list of players not practicing remained pretty much the same. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn't meet with the media Thursday but will Friday ahead of the team's trip to Las Vegas, so more details should be available then.
Photos from Seahawks Training Camp practice, held on Thursday, August 12 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.