DK Metcalf wore a pacifier in his NFL debut—OK, it was a mouthguard that looked like a pacifier—but the Seahawks rookie receiver's game was anything but infantile in Seattle's Week 1 win over the Bengals.
Metcalf, a second-round pick out of Ole Miss, started Seattle's opener, caught four passes for 89 yards, and also drew a pass interference call in the end zone that set up a touchdown.
"I was really fired up that we got the ball to DK," Carroll said. "You can see why all of the interest and focus has been there. He can really help us and we're just getting him started of course, but it was nice for him to come through and make some tough catches and guys hanging all over him and all that."
Yet as he prepares for his second game, Sunday's Week 2 matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Metcalf is far from satisfied with his level of play in the opener.
"I could have done a lot of stuff better, but overall it was just fun," he said. "It was a good experience to get out there for the first time."
Asked what he could have done better, Metcalf said, "A lot of things. Ran routes better, blocked better, caught the ball better, my run after the catch could have been better, so there's a lot of things I could have done better."
But while there's still room to improve, what Metcalf showed last week was very encouraging for his and Seattle's future. Not only was the 89-yard performance impressive—it was the most receiving yards by a Seahawks rookie receiver in his first game, surpassing Steve Largent's 86-yard game in his debut—it was the type of plays he made. Most obvious was the 42-yard catch that showed Metcalf's speed, and perhaps more importantly, his ability to use his 6-foot-4, 229-pound frame to hold off good coverage. But another play that stood out was his 25-yard catch on a Russell Wilson scramble, the type of play a lot of rookie receivers don't make because they don't have the experience with Wilson to know where to go when the quarterback is on the move.
"I think most rookies don't recognize things as fast as DK did in that first game," Wilson said. "I thought that he saw things, he saw me scrambling, reacted quickly. He's got a great response there. That really showed up in practice though, I noticed it the first few days we practiced. I scrambled a couple times, and he came back to me, he ran down the field, he came across the field. He works hard. I think all those things in terms of scrambling, is really just instincts, and playing football and trying to run to the open spot. It's also effort, having great effort. I think that we have a lot of guys that put a lot of great effort into that."
Metcalf, who wore a Largent jersey before and after the game as an homage to the Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver, worked hard to earn Wilson's trust, and that paid off in the opener, but he's also mature enough—pacifier mouthguard or not—to realize every week won't play out like game one.
"It means a lot (to have Wilson's trust), but I've still got a lot of work to come," he said. "Next game it could be different, it could be Tyler (Lockett), it could be D-Mo (David Moore), it could be JB (Jaron Brown). Whenever your number is called, you've just got to be ready."
Metcalf proved to be ready in Week 1, and everything he has shown his coaches and teammates so far indicate that more big games are in his future.
"I've been working with him since the day he got drafted for the most part," Wilson said. "His work ethic is unbelievable in terms of what he's been doing. He gets here early, he works extremely hard, we've worked together all offseason together. He's knowledgeable of the game. I think the thing that jumps out about DK, more than anything else almost, is just his mind. He understands the game really well, he sees things, and reacts and plays football. Post practice we sit right next to each other, watch the film and talk. He's got a great mind and understanding—all of our receivers do actually. It's exciting to have so many young guys that obviously are great playmakers but, understand the game at such a high level. Their IQ level is very, very high so, that's a good thing for us."
The Seahawks and the Steelers will meet this Sunday in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field in Week 6 of the 2021 season. Take a look back at photos from the past games between the two teams.