Practice No. 3 of 2023 training camp is in the books for the Seahawks, and Friday's action at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center featured plenty of big plays, some great individual battles, and a few turnovers to entertain the big crowd in attendance.
Here are five takeaways from Friday's practice, which will be followed by a player's day off before the Seahawks return to action on Sunday:
1. Michael Jackson vs. DK Metcalf was a must-watch matchup.
Last season, newcomer Artie Burns found himself matched up with DK Metcalf quite a bit in practice, and the two pushed each other day in and day out and had some memorable battles. Burns is back having re-signed earlier this offseason, however, Michael Jackson is now with the No. 1 defense, meaning he was involved in a lot of plays lined up opposite Metcalf on Friday, and that battle did not disappoint.
During one red-zone session, Jackson made a nice play to reach around Metcalf and knock down a pass at the goal line that was thrown a bit behind the receiver. On the next play, Geno Smith lofted a fade pass into he back corner of the end zone, and though the ball fell to the ground, a flag quickly came out for pass interference after some grabbing from Jackson, who as defensive backs always do, disagreed with the call.
Later in practice during another red-zone session, Jackson had a great play on a jump ball in the end zone, with the ball looking to have found its home in the hands of a leaping Metcalf, only for Jackson to slap it away as the two went to the ground. A few plays later, however, Metcalf beat Jackson with an inside release and caught a strike from Smith for a touchdown in the back of the end zone.
2. Devon Witherspoon is back.
After missing the first two days of training camp, first-round pick Devon Witherspoon was back in action Friday after signing his rookie contract. Witherspoon appeared to get most of his work at outside cornerback on his first day back, though as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discussed Monday, the plan will be for him and Coby Bryant, last year's nickel corner, to get work at that spot as camp goes along.
"They'll both play nickel and both will be competing there," Carroll said. "Really happy for the depth at corner. Today we jumped out with Tre (Brown) and Michael playing corner when (Riq) Woolen and Devon aren't out there, it shows we have really nice depth there with Coby playing the nickel spot. That's going to be a very competitive position throughout and we can't wait to see what happens. Coby did a really nice job at nickel for us last year and Devon seems natural playing there as well. We'll see how it goes and figure out the right mix. We may get them out on the field all at the same time.
3. Jarran Reed is happy to play wherever is needed.
While Jarran Reed is listed as a defensive end, Carroll noted on Monday that the big defensive lineman will play nose tackle as well this year, and sure enough he has spent time lined up between ends Dre'Mont Jones and Mario Edwards Jr.. Reed also moved around a bit on the line depending on formations and the personnel on the field, and said he's comfortable playing anywhere along the line if it helps the team.
"Wherever they need me to play, I'm going to play it," he said. "At the end of day, it's football. I love playing. I can play nose, three-(technique), end, wherever they need me to play, I'm going to play it, and I'm going to play it to the best of my ability, believe me."
4. Turnover… Friday?
During a game week, the Seahawks have a theme to each practice—competition Wednesday, turnover Thursday and no repeat Friday—and while those themes aren't in play during the first week of camp, the defense apparently decided to celebrate turnover Thursday a day late, with three different players recording interceptions (none against starter Geno Smith). There was also a forced fumble, though that was recovered by the offense.
Vi Jones has shown up a few times early in camp after making the full-time move to inside linebacker—he split time between inside and outside linebacker as a rookie—and that was once again the case Friday, with Jones making a nice play in coverage to haul in an interception after tight end Griffin Hebert tried to make a leaping, one-handed grab but was unable to secure the catch. Later in practice, safety Joey Blount perfectly read a short pass and was able to arrive just after the ball, ripping the ball away from the intended receiver before taking off down the right sideline for a long touchdown. Towards the end of practice, Patrick O’Connell dropped into coverage to intercept fellow undrafted rookie Holton Ahlers on a short pass over the middle.
5. The center rotation continues.
Carroll said last month that center should be one of the better competitions in camp, and while there is still a lot of time between now and the start of the season, it's evident early on that it should be a pretty wide-open competition between Evan Brown, a free-agent addition, and Olu Oluwatimi, a rookie out of Michigan. While Brown opened camp as the starting center, Oluwatimi moved into the No. 1 role on Thursday, then on Friday it was Brown back with the starting offense. Time will tell what happens next in the competition, but it would appear those two will both get a good opportunity to show what they can do and state their case for the starting job.
The Seahawks held their second practice of Training Camp on a sunny Thursday afternoon at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.