The Seahawks were back in action Sunday following a day off, beginning their week of preparation for their final preseason game, and the practice marked the return of quarterback Drew Lock, who had been out since testing positive for COVID-19 last Tuesday.
More on Lock's return, the quarterback competition and other notes from Sunday's practice:
1. Drew Lock was back & splitting time with Geno Smith with the No. 1 offense.
After missing most of last week, including a preseason game he was otherwise going to start, due to COVID-19, Lock was back in action Sunday and was splitting time with Geno Smith running the No. 1 offense.
"He did OK today, he seemed to bounce back," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's six, seven days into it now so he's in good shape as far as getting back. But you never know until you get out there and start running around. He hung in there, tough, so that's good."
Last week it was clear from watching a practice in which Lock took all of the first-team reps that he was in line to start the upcoming game after Smith had been with the No. 1 offense throughout camp up to that point. It was less clear, however, what the plan this week will be given the way Lock and Smith split time with the starters.
Carroll for now isn't divulging his plan at quarterback this week other than to joke with the media, "I'll talk to you more about it later in the week, or I won't. I'm not sure."
Carroll did make it clear, however, that Lock will get significant playing time against Dallas, regardless of who starts.
"I still need to see him play and need to see him fit in with our guys and all that," Carroll said. "He's done really well through now just though the opportunity was going to be there. Even though I knew the preparation for it wasn't great (with a Thursday game). It just wasn't adequate for the prep of a guy that wants to start his first chance to start a game, we'll see how he goes this week, and I plan on him playing a lot a lot this week."
As for the timeline on deciding on a starter, Carroll maintained that he is not in a hurry to make that decision.
"I'm going to take the time it takes to figure it out and make sure we have all the information that we need," he said. "I can't wait to see what happens in this game. Geno's done a good job and Geno needs a little more help from some guys—they got to be able to catch the football a little better—but he's handled it well. You go back, Drew has had three drives and had two touchdown drives, so he's put some stuff on the resume out there. So we'll see what happens this week. And we do have really good weeks of practice coming up. This week is a great one, next week is a great one and the one after is a great one so we'll use all of that if we need it."
2. More work for the starters as the focus of practice shifts.
While the Seahawks still have one preseason game left to play, their practices are starting to take on a little bit more of a regular-season feel this week. For the first four weeks of camp, a main focus has been developing talent throughout the roster, and while that will always be an important goal, the focus is shifting somewhat as the Seahawks work now to make sure their starters are as ready as possible for the regular-season opener.
"The focus really shifts to the starters and the guys that we are counting on doing a lot of playing," Carroll said. "We've been developing guys throughout and working with them in making sure that we know who we have and making it competitive and all that. And the starters have been getting reps, but the focus goes directly to the guys who are going to do all the playing. So the scripts and the preparation of the practice and design is to make sure they are ready to go now. So, that's the clear shift for us."
3. Dee Eskridge was back.
Second-year receiver Dee Eskridge has missed almost all of training camp and two preseason games after injuring his hamstring on the first day of camp. After spending the last couple of weeks getting some work in early in practice and on the Jugs machine after practice, Eskridge was able to take part in all of practice, including the 11-on-11 team portion of practice.
"We finally got him on the practice field," Carroll said. "He got hurt in the first 10 minutes of practice the first day. So, it's the first time we got to see him. He worked really hard to get out there and we tried to ensure that once he's out, he stays out. Every day that he's on the practice field, it will be the next day to see on how he recovers from it. But that was good work and he looked really explosive today. That's just the way he always shows it."
4. Michael Jackson continues to have a really strong camp.
In part because they're playing really well and in part because there's always a lot of intrigue around rookies, Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen have received a lot of attention for their play, but by no means have they been the only playmaking corners in camp. In addition to those two rookies, as well as Sidney Jones IV and Artie Burns, who opened camp as the starters, another corner who just keeps showing up is Michael Jackson.
A 2019 fifth-round pick who previously spent time with Dallas, Detroit and New England before joining the Seahawks practice squad las year, Jackson has been strong in coverage and physical in run defense throughout camp and the two preseason games. After Jackson came up with a few more good plays Sunday, Carroll was asked about the cornerback and raved about what he has seen.
"I think that Michael has had one of the most outstanding camps of anybody," Carroll said. "I think that he has had one of the best camps out of anybody. He has been solidly consistent, he's been challenging the whole time, he's had four, five, or maybe six different chances to make a hit in the game and he hit every one of them. He's been physical every time. He's played fast, he's played aggressive, and he's played confident, so he's had a fantastic camp. He kind of got a chance when the other guys were out, and he took full advantage of it. I have no problem with Michael on the field."
5. Linebackers Vi Jones & Aaron Donkor focusing on versatility.
Rookie linebacker Vi Jones was one of the standouts in Seattle's preseason opener, recording six tackles to go along with a sack while playing inside linebacker. Aaron Donkor, who joined the Seahawks last year as part of the league's International Player Pathway Program, has flashed as an edge rusher, most notably in Seattle's mock game then again in the first preseason game.
On Sunday, however, Jones was working off the edge as an outside linebacker, and Donkor, though currently sidelined by an injury, will work at inside linebacker when he gets back on the field, Carroll said, with the goal being for both players to make themselves more valuable through versatility.
"We want to see these guys in different spots, make sure we gain all the information we can. Donk's going to play inside—he can still play outside," Carroll said. "And Vi's going to play outside—he can still play inside. That's helping them be more valuable to the team."
The Seahawks dancers paired up with their Jr. dancers at halftime of preseason game #2 against the Bears.