Seahawks coach Pete Carroll spoke at length with the media on Monday as his team goes through the early stages of what is a very unique version of training camp.
Already on Monday we covered Carroll's thoughts on how his team is handling the challenges of beginning camp during a pandemic, the excitement that Carroll has about adding All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the team, as well as a very encouraging update on tight end Will Dissly.
In addition to those three topics, here are five more things we learned from Carroll's video press conference:
1. A three-safety defense is a real possibility.
Even before the addition of Adams, Carroll had mentioned the idea of using Marquise Blair in nickel packages to get the second-year safety on the field. The addition of an All-Pro safety makes it that much harder for Blair to crack the starting lineup if everyone's healthy, but Carroll is excited to find ways to get him on the field with Adams and Quandre Diggs.
"We are really pumped about this camp to figure that part out," Carroll said. "For the most part, we have to figure out Marquise. He's the one that's going to get the opportunity to get in on the slot and do some stuff that puts him in a position to be really active and be part of the pressure packaging and some really aggressive parts of the play, so that's cool for him. As we add Jamal into the program here, there's so many things that he does well. We're excited about fitting that together as we move forward. It doesn't seem like uncharted territory for me at all because I've been very fortunate and coached some really, really good safeties over the years, and I see traits of Jamal and all of those guys. He can do everything that we that we want a guy to do. He's most dynamic as an aggressive player where he has chances to make plays and be around the line of scrimmage and around coverage in pressure situations, he's really good at all of that. So I'm thrilled to be putting this thing together. We won't know for some time now, but I can picture it and I can't wait to see this come to life."
Blair's main competition for the nickel spot might be fellow 2019 draft pick Ugo Amadi, who finished the season in that role.
"I don't want to overlook Ugo doing what he can do," Carroll said. "He was a nice factor late in the year playing the nickel spot, and he's going to be there in coverage situations battling with Marquise."
2. Jordyn Brooks will begin camp playing weakside linebacker, but is flexible enough to play other spots.
The Seahawks drafted linebacker Jordyn Brooks despite having two of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, but the presence of those two on the roster doesn't preclude Brooks from playing as well, Carroll said. For starters, Carroll noted that while weakside linebacker—K.J. Wright's position for most of his career—might be Brooks' best spot, he showed at Texas Tech the ability to play multiple linebacker spots in different defenses. Wright too has the ability to play multiple spots, having been the starter at strongside linebacker early in his career. Carroll even mentioned the possibility of those three being on the field at the same time as strongside linebacker/pass-rusher Bruce Irvin, though Irvin would likely be in an edge-rushing role in that scenario.
"I think the spot that makes sense to us at this point—he could play all three spots at linebacker, he's physically capable and I've seen enough film of him, there's a lot of film of him playing all different spots. Any college guy that came to us, you would love to see what we've seen in him. He started four years and he's had thousands of snaps, so the flexibility is there. The most obvious path would be the Will 'backer spot, we'll see how that goes. We'll start him there and see how fast he can grasp it and become comfortable. We have tremendous flexibility and our guys have been here for a long time in our program. With Bruce coming back and K.J. and Bobby, that's a fantastic group of guys. We've got a lot of options and planning here to weigh out, and we've got to see how it goes. That's why this goes back to competition, we'll see how it all plays itself out. K.J. has been a fantastic player, he might have had his best year for us last year, Bobby's at the top of his game, and we're thrilled to have Bruce back, but that doesn't mean that all those guys don't play at the same time, all four of those guys on the field at the same time. There's options for how we can do that that we've worked out, the competition will settle it. I'm not concerned about it at all, the competition will tell us what we need to do here, because the options are all there for us."
3. DK Metcalf had an incredible offseason and "is going to be better this year."
DK Metcalf exceeded most people's expectations as a rookie, catching 58 passes for 900 yards and seven touchdowns—plus a single-game franchise postseason record 160 yards in Seattle's playoff win in Philadelphia—but Carroll doesn't think the 2019 second-round pick has come close to tapping into his full potential just yet.
"He's going to be better this year," Carroll said. "He had an incredible offseason. He spent, I don't know, at least a month with Russell (Wilson) working out, they found a way to do it, and they had a phenomenal summer in that regard. What gives him a chance to be a really exciting player is his mentality. He knows exactly who he is, he knows where he's come from, he knows what it's all about. He's not going to let anybody get in the way of him being all he can be, and that's all we could ever ask for. What that is? I don't know, but now we know we can move him around, we can we can ask him do a lot of different stuff. We were hesitant because he was a young player and all; we weren't sure if he was able to handle stuff, but what we know now—he's really a bright football player, and he's got flexibility, and he blocks any he can rip down the field, so we hope to just use more than ever and fit him together in this team. It's what he wants to do, but he's here to do something special, now. There's nothing about anything that he's done that doesn't make… He's screaming that he wants to do something really special. He's a beautiful part of this team I can't wait to see him go."
4. Carroll expects his team to improve at cornerback regardless of Quinton Dunbar's status.
The Seahawks made a trade earlier this season to acquire Quinton Dunbar, potentially giving them an upgrade at cornerback if the former Washington starter was able to beat out Tre Flowers for a starting job. Dunbar is currently on the Commissioner's Exempt List, however, having been arrested in connection with armed robbery that took place earlier this offseason, putting his status for 2020 up in the air. Regardless of what transpires with Dunbar, however, Carroll expects to see his team improve at cornerback because of the jump he saw in Shaquill Griffin last year, and the one he's expecting to see from Flowers this year.
"I don't have any updates for you on Quinton's situation right now. It's out of our hands and we'll see how that goes," Carroll said. "But we're in the developmental stage of our corners' growth. I thought Shaq had a great season last year for us, really bounce back. Year 1 to Year 2, we thought he could do better, Year 3, I thought he did a fantastic job. I thought he exploded—playmaking, physical count-on, come-through guy, big plays, all of that stuff he did. And Year 2 for Tre I thought also kind of maybe not as much ground made up as we would have liked, so he comes back for us, just with a whole 'nother experience in his back pocket. I expect him to be—as a matter of fact I already talked to him about this—very aggressive, very physical and make sure that we take advantage of the two years that he's got behind his now, and that it really comes to the front. Our corners are coming back and so the competition is on, and guys will be battling to those spots… So we're really just in the developmental process with these guys. There's no reason to think that they're not going to get better this year and be an improved product from where we were. We've got experience, we know what we've got and we're physical, so I like our chances."
5. The Seahawks are "very open" to a possible Josh Gordon return.
Josh Gordon played in five games with the Seahawks last season before he was suspended indefinitely for violations of the league's substance abuse and performance-enhancing drug policies. But while Gordon's status currently remains in the hands of the league, Carroll said the Seahawks would be open to a reunion if Gordon is reinstated.
"It's not in our hands," Carroll said. "Josh did a really good job with us last year, he fit in really well. He was part of this team, by the way we opened and embraced his coming to us, but also by the way he attacked it. So we are very open to that thought and we'll see what happens. I don't know, I can't tell you what's going to happen on that."
Seahawks players began taking their physicals at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Saturday, August 1. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.