The Seahawks returned to practice Friday following a day off. And in the interest of full disclosure for this version of observations, most of the practice action took place after the hour that was live-streamed and shown on Training Camp Live on Q13 FOX, and therefore fair game for reporting on, so these observations are a mix of actual practice observations and of some things defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who talked to the media Friday, has observed of late.
1. Chris Carson is back.
Due to a death in the family, running back Chris Carson has been back home in Georgia for most of training camp, but he returned earlier this week—he was at Wednesday's mock game but did not participate other than the warmup period—and on Friday he was back in action, looking like his usual explosive self. Seattle's running back depth has looked very good in camp with Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas carrying the load, but having Carson back is always good news for the offense.
In other personnel news, right tackle Brandon Shell was able to practice two days after injuring his ankle in the mock game. Not present for Friday's practice was cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who had an excused absence for personal reasons. While Dunbar wasn't on the field Friday, he has impressed his defensive coordinator while competing at right cornerback with Tre Flowers.
"Quinton has been really good," Norton said. "We're all kind of watching them for the first time. We watched the film on him when he was in Washington, and we're really getting to know him and his ways and how he likes to practice and how he communicates, but so far if you can make one first impression, he's made a really good first impression. He's smart, he has great vision, he's really sticky. He understands football, you can talk a lot of football with him and he really understands what he's doing, and Tre Flowers, he's really rising to the competition… They are really rising to the level of competition, and competition always brings the best out of you. Tre has really come a long way and he's gotten better. He's sticky and doing really good with his technique, and Dunbar as well, we're learning his ways, but so far he's made a really, really good first impression."
2. Jordyn Brooks is impressing.
Two rookies on offense, right guard Damien Lewis and running back DeeJay Dallas have been getting a lot of love from coaches and teammates during their first NFL training camp. There hasn't been as much talk about first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, in part because he is in a position group with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, making it a little harder to stand out, but even if the same level of hype hasn't been there of late, that doesn't mean that Brooks isn't having a very strong camp, and Norton noted.
"We've been really excited about Jordyn Brooks," Norton said. "He's a fantastic football player. He looks like a linebacker, he runs like a linebacker, he acts like a guy who's hungry and wants to play. Very pleased with his development so far. We saw in the scrimmage the other day, he really showed up well in the scrimmage. He's really learning how to play football at our level. He's very fortunate to be amongst some of the best in the league with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, who have been a model of consistency and high-level performance over the last nine, 10 years of their career."
3. The linebacker depth as a whole is obvious.
As mentioned above, it can be hard at times for Brooks to stand out because of the presence of Wagner and Wright, and those three aren't the only linebackers making plays in camp. Cody Barton, a third-round pick out of Utah last year, has been very impressive, while fellow 2019 draft pick Ben Burr-Kirven has also taken strides in Year 2. At strongside linebacker, the Seahawks brought back Bruce Irvin, who Pete Carroll and Norton have both called the best strongside linebacker Seattle has had in their time here, while Shaquem Griffin is serving as the No. 2 there.
"Cody's a really good football player, he plays really hard, really smart," Norton said. "He's having a really good camp. I'm very, very impressed with him, excited about his development. He's going in the right direction. Ben Burr-Kirven as well, same year same toughness, same smarts, a guy has really good ability. There's a really good depth. It's one position on our team that has a lot of depth is that linebacker position. So all the guys have their work cut out for them."
4. Marquise Blair's coverage skills keep showing up.
In theory, using a safety as a nickel defensive back instead of a cornerback could lead to drop-off in coverage ability. Yes, that safety would provide a more physical presence, but would he be able to cover receivers like a cornerback might? So far in his first camp playing the nickel spot, second-year safety Marquise Blair is showing that his coverage skills are anything but a liability. That was evident in his two-interception performance in Wednesday's mock game, and it showed again on multiple occasions Friday.
"He makes us a really good man coverage team, because he's able to, with his length, and his strength, is able to really cover really tight and sticky, and he's a good rusher," Norton said. "So we're really happy with his development, he makes us better. Jamal (Adams) makes us better, but when you have a really good nickel who can cover that slot, he really makes us a really good man coverage team, and a good blitzing team from that nickel spot. So watching emergence and development, he's going to really make us a better team in the secondary, along with Quandre and Jamal—all those guys working together is good for the Seahawks."
5. (Big) Man in the (tackle) Box.
Maybe it's just because I'm currently reading Corbin Reiff's outstanding Chris Cornell biography, but I've been listening to a lot of 1990s Seattle music lately (OK, I listen to a lot of that normally). So it was good to hear Alice In Chain's "Man in the Box" blaring over the speakers during Friday's practice. Even better was seeing Jarran Reed, who was not yet born when that song came out, showing his appreciation for the grunge classic, picking up one of the poles with a football attached to it that the defense uses for pass rush drills, and using it to play a mean air guitar.
Photos from the 11th practice of Seahawks 2020 Training Camp, held on Friday, August 28 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.