Will Blackmon spent all of one training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, falling victim to roster cuts in 2013, but given the chance to sign with Seattle, Blackmon jumped at the chance to return to a place that is special to him even if his first go-around was brief.
When Blackmon signed with Seattle, he had been out of the NFL for two seasons, so while he didn't make the team, he did knock off some rust, put some good preseason play on tape and pave to way for a job in Jacksonville, where he spent the past two seasons as a key part of the Jaguars' secondary.
"It's a very cool place here, and it's very cool the secondary room we have," Blackmon said. "Just how genuine everybody is, how everyone's competing, but yet everyone is helping each other, sharing information. I just felt comfortable here, football is fun for me here. That's what it's all about."
Blackmon wasn't a bad player when he was with Seattle in 2013, he just got caught up in absurdly deep position group. In that camp, Seahawks cornerbacks included Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Walter Thurmond, Tharold Simon, Antoine Winfield, Ron Parker and Blackmon. Winfield, a three-time Pro Bowler, retired before the final cuts, but there was a real chance he wasn't going to make the team, and both Parker, now a starter in Kansas City, and Blackmon went on to be productive players elsewhere.
Blackmon returns to Seattle a bit older—the 30-year-old is Seattle's oldest defensive back—but also more polished having played the past two seasons with the Jaguars. He has spent much of camp as Seattle's first-team nickel cornerback, but missed Seattle's first two preseason games with a groin injury. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Blackmon likely could have played last week but was held out as a precaution, and he should be on the field against San Diego Saturday.
"It's tough, but at the same time, I was being smart and trusting the training staff," Blackmon said. "Whatever we caught it early where it didn't get worse. It was good to miss some time as opposed to trying to fight through it and putting bad play on film."
As for his age—Richard Sherman jokingly referred to Blackmon as a "crusty veteran" earlier in camp—Blackmon said he feels as young as ever despite the calendar arguing otherwise. The way he sees it, two years out of the league didn't just mean quality time with his family, it means he has fresher legs than most his age. As he points out, Sherman has played nearly as many games in his career (64) as Blackmon (66). "So I have the same amount of miles left," he said with a grin.
That being said, Blackmon admits it was a bit eye opening to see former Packers teammate Al Harris, who is now an assistant coach in Kansas City. Or more accurately, seeing Harris' son was an eye-opener.
"We played Kansas City, one of their secondary coaches was Al Harris (starters were him and Charles Woodson)… He asked me how old I was now and I was like, 'Damn, I'm 30,' and he just started laughing. It's crazy, his little son Gavin was 2 when I played with him, now he's 10 years old. Time does fly by."
Time has aged Blackmon a bit, but he's back in Seattle with a good chance to contribute to the 2015 version of the Seahawks. He'll have to hold off challenges from Marcus Burley and rookie Tye Smith, but if Blackmon can win the nickel corner job, he'll be able to do something he missed out on in 2013—be a big part of one of the NFL's best defenses.
"He's settling in nicely," Sherman said. "He's doing a great job. He understands the technique. He's a veteran. He understands what's asked of him. He understands where his help is. What his responsibilities are and he does a good job of executing."