The Seahawks were back in pads on Wednesday, and with a day off coming on Thursday, it was a particularly physical affair with big hits being dished out by players on both sides of the ball.
It was the third straight practice for the Seahawks without head coach Pete Carroll, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, but he is able to take part in team meetings remotely, and the team is still good hands with the leadership of coaches like associate head coach Carl Smith, defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and associate head coach-defense Sean Desai.
"Technology is amazing, so you got Zoom and all that stuff," offensive line coach Andy Dickerson said. "Carl Smith, AKA Tater, has done a great job of leading us, and you've got Hurtt, you've got Shane, you've got Desai, the culture has been set. We know the expectations from coach. The coaches bring, it the players bring it, the whole building is on the same page. So you feel it a little bit, but then you're out there working, you missed the presence, but you know, next man up. We've just got to keep it moving and hopefully make this thing better when he gets back."
Here are five observations from Wednesday's practice:
1. It was a day of big hits.
While Tuesday's practice saw the physicality ramp up with players in shoulder pads, players took it to another level on Wednesday, in no small part because it was a run-heavy day in practice.
The tone was set early on when safety Josh Jones put a shoulder into tight end Tyler Mabry on the sideline, knocking him off his feet, and it continued all afternoon long on what was as physical of a practice as the Seahawks have had in a while, not just this summer. Jones followed that with another big hit in run defense, and his fellow defenders were all hitting hard—though not tackling to the ground—throughout practice. And it wasn't just defensive players dishing out punishment, the offense got in on the act too, especially running back DeeJay Dallas who had a couple of big stiff arms, including one that sent Josh Valentine-Turner flying out of bounds when the rookie corner tried to come in and punch the ball loose. Even the receivers got in on the action, with rookie Dareke Young receiving a ton of praise from teammates and coaches after making a block that helped spring a long Kenneth Walker III run.
2. The offense, and the quarterbacks in particular, had arguably their best day of camp.
Seattle's defense has received a lot of attention over the past couple of days, and for good reason. And while players on that side of the ball made plenty of good plays, to be sure, Wednesday's practice featured more offensive highlights than have earlier practices.
Drew Lock made some of his best throws of camp, including a perfectly-placed deep ball down the sideline to rookie Bo Melton, an on-time and accurate quick slant to Marquise Goodwin, and a great throw up the seam to running back DeeJay Dallas for a touchdown. Lock also ran for a score in red-zone drills.
Geno Smith, meanwhile, saved some of his best plays for the end of practice, hitting DK Metcalf on a deep ball, and then in a third-down drill completing passes to Metcalf once and Tyler Lockett three times to move the sticks.
3. That's why they pay them the big bucks.
Rookie cornerback Coby Bryant has received a lot of attention in camp so far, and for good reason—he has been almost impossible to complete a pass against during his first week in an NFL camp. But for as good as Bryant has been, Seattle's top two receivers, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, reminded the rookie that they are, in fact, two of the very best in the world at what they do.
During the aforementioned third-down drills, Geno Smith finished off his day by completing three straight passes, one to Metcalf and two to Lockett, all of which came with Bryant in coverage. None of that is meant to disparage Bryant's play—he has looked phenomenal so far in camp and looks like he very well could be a starter sooner than later—but it was a good reminder that even the best corners can sometimes have a hard time against the likes of Metcalf and Lockett.
Metcalf also had a nice moment against Seattle's other rookie corner, Tariq Woolen, snagging a deep ball from Smith despite tight coverage from Woolen.
4. Sidney Jones IV was making plays all over the place.
Nearly every practice has featured a lot of good play from one or more cornerbacks, and that was the case again Wednesday, particularly when it came to the play of Jones. Jones, who had two interceptions in the first few days of camp, broke up a potential touchdown pass to Noah Fant in the end zone, then a few plays later denied Metcalf a catch, then again not long after that, he was all over Penny Hart on a crossing route to cause another incompletion.
Artie Burns watched from the sideline on what appeared to just be a veteran rest day, allowing Bryant and Woolen to both get significant work with the first team opposite Jones. Jones also left practice towards the end of the session, allowing both rookies to get some work with the No. 1 defense.
5. The right tackle rotation continues.
While the quarterback competition is going to get the most attention, and while the cornerback competition has featured some of the flashier plays in camp, one of the most wide-open battles taking place is the one at right tackle, where Jake Curhan, Abraham Lucas and Stone Forsythe have all gotten work with the starting offense, with Curhan also working at guard. It was Forsythe's turn to get the first look with the starters on Wednesday, while Curhan slid inside to play guard with Seattle's two starters, Gabe Jackson and Damien Lewis, getting apparent rest days.
"We're rolling guys through, we have a plan and a chart, like, 'Who got these reps, who got these reps in pads.'" Dickerson said. "… You see different combinations of players, how everybody's working together. We're just rolling people through to get the different looks, making sure we're getting different type of blocks, different types of pressures and different things to continue the evaluation process."
The Seahawks send out a big thank you to USAA as we were able to celebrate those who serve our country for Salute To Service Day at Training Camp.