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Building A Good Foundation & Other Things We Learned From Seahawks OTAs

News and notes from Day 2 of Seahawks organized team activities.


The Seahawks opened up phase three of the voluntary offseason workout program Monday with the start of organized team activities, and were back at it Wednesday with their second day of OTAs, and first that was open to the media.

"It was a good day," Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald said. "We're learning as we go. Guys' spirits are high, we're playing fast. I think we're practicing the right way for the most part, and we're just getting after it."

With OTAs underway, here are five things we learned from Day 2 of Seahawks OTAs:

1. Macdonald and company are being deliberate when it comes to installing the defense.

While the action on the field Wednesday is starting to resemble football more than earlier phases of the offseason program, with the offense and defense allowed to go against each other, albeit in non-contact scenarios. But what we're seeing from the Seahawks under a new coaching staff is a long ways from the finished product, with Macdonald noting that he and the defensive staff have only installed 20 percent of the defense so far.

The plan, Macdonald explained, is to build a baseline of fundamentals and concepts for the defense, then to later focus on installing specific plays.

"We're chasing the baseline, base fundamentals," he said. "It's not a huge install, it's concepts. We'll get the base concepts in, then we'll go from there."

Macdonald said that in addition to taking their time in installing things, he will also be flexible to assure things are progressing at a rate that's best for the team's growth.

"We're still installing," he said. "We're going to installing defensively throughout. Install two was today, and we'll evaluate it as we go. If the guys are slow to make some checks, anticipating things, we'll make some decisions so it doesn't pile on, so we don't get too far behind. I'm not really worried about the pace of how fast we get everything in. We want a really good foundation for when we get into camp. So we have a schedule, but we'll adjust as we go.

Macdonald added that they're "chasing execution" and said the pace of installing a defense can vary. For example, he noted that his year as defensive coordinator at Michigan went at a slower pace, as did his first year installing the defense in Baltimore, whereas things moved at a different pace in his second year as the Ravens' coordinator.

"If you go in with an open mind of, 'Hey, let's do what make sense for this group,' that's where you end up in the right spot," he said.

Macdonald later added, "I think we have a pretty clear vision of how we want practice to go. We want to be fast, we want to execute, we want to be loud, we want to get the job done, and we want to get the heck out of here. So there's not a lot of lollygagging around. You don't practice to practice, you're practicing to train to go play the game. So a lot of the decisions that we're making are inspired by that kind of principle being behind the whole thing."

2. Yes, the Seahawks are practicing in game jerseys. Here's why:

One of the more visible changes in workouts this offseason under Macdonald is that the Seahawks are practicing in game jerseys, with the offense in blue, the defense in white and quarterbacks in the royal blue throwback jerseys instead of red practice jerseys. That's something Macdonald said he took from Baltimore, with the goal being to make practice as game like as possible.

"It's something they did in Baltimore," Macdonald said. "The thinking behind it is we're trying to make practice as much like a game as possible. How we dress, all the details, where we stand, how we operate, how we coach them up, timing wise, we want the guys feeling like they're out there playing. So that's part of the equation."

3. Rookies are still adjusting, but first-round pick Byron Murphy II certainly looks the part.

The Seahawks eight-player rookie class, along with undrafted free agents, got started earlier this month with rookie minicamp, but now they're on the field with close to a full NFL roster, and as is always the case, there is an adjustment period, but Macdonald likes what he's seen so far.

"It's going to take some time, how to operate," Macdonald said. "Our vets have been great leading the guys, showing them routines, keeping the competition high, and bringing them along. We want to respect everybody, and the rookies have to do their part as well to respect those guys that have laid the foundation in front of them. We've got a great group, I'm really excited. The guys are working well together."

And while it will take years to fully assess a draft class, one thing that is clear almost instantly is that first-round pick Byron Murphy II very much looks the part of an NFL defensive lineman, both in term of explosiveness and speed, and also in a ripped physique that includes tree trunks for legs.

4. Macdonald is "really excited" about the secondary.

The Seahawks have three players in their secondary who earned Pro-Bowl honors in the past two seasons in safety Julian Love and cornerbacks Riq Woolen and Devon Witherspoon, and plenty of other talented players on the back end of the defense who are expected to make that group a strength of the defense, including returning players like cornerbacks Tre Brown and Michael Jackson, as well as newcomers such as safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and K'Von Wallace.

"We're really excited about our secondary," Macdonald said. "I think there's some flexibility there, we can get to some personnel groups where guys are moving around, playing matchup ball a little bit. They're in a good spot."

One player Macdonald discussed Wednesday is Woolen, who missed much of last year's offseason program following knee surgery, something he later said affected his play during his sophomore campaign.

"I think Tariq's in a great spot," Macdonald said. "We had a great conversation today, and I'm expecting big things from him. just like everyone else on the defense and on the rest of the team, we're going to be pushing him, because there's greatness in there."

Macdonald was also asked about Witherspoon, who had a standout rookie season, and in particular about what he likes about Witherspoon in the nickel role.

"Where do I start? Great feel for the game. He picks things up really quick. He understands ball and plays at a really, really fast speed," Macdonald said. "At nickel there's a lot of action in there, so when guys have that type of skillset, you get him around the action as much as possible. He'll do all the things, he'll blitz, man, zone, play the deep area of the field. It's a fun position to play."

5. A few health updates.

One of the more positive signs early in offseason workouts has been the presence of outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who appears to be practicing without limitations after his 2023 season was cut short by a pectoral injury.

Not yet able to practice is right tackle Abraham Lucas, who had knee surgery this offseason. The goal, Macdonald said, is to get Lucas ready for training camp.

"We're shooting for camp right now," he said. "Abe's getting after it in rehab, so I'm proud of his effort that he's putting in."

Second-year guard Anthony Bradford was sidelined Wednesday but isn't expected to be out long.

"He tweaked his ankle yesterday," Macdonald said. "It shouldn't be long."

The Seahawks kicked off the third phase of offseason workouts with a practice on the first day of OTAs on Monday, May 20, 2024 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

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