The Seahawks kicked off 2023 training camp on Wednesday in front of a big crowd at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, and as is always the case when a new season begins, spirits were high and the energy was palpable.
"First day," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "That was so much fun today to see these guys out there. Such a build up and anticipation of getting back. The anticipation runs all the way through the offseason, then we take the big break, and to see these guys come out and move like they did today, they worked really hard to get here. I'm really fired up about that, because we don't want that to be an issue; it isn't… Being out here on the first day of football with this bunch of guys that we're so excited about, I really feel blessed to be a part of it."
In addition to a big contingent of 12s packing the berm, Wednesday's practice also included a visit from some Seattle music royalty, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who, by the way, is performing on Saturday night at the Showbox with his side-project band, The Rockfords, in their first headlining, full-set show in 20 years. McCready, a former 12 Flag raiser, is also playing the national anthem at the August 13 Mariners game to raise money for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
With that in mind, and in honor of McCready's visit, here are five observations from Day 1 of Seahawks camp, as Pearl Jam song titles:
"Man of the Hour"
After a decade in Seattle that saw him become one of the best players in franchise history, Bobby Wagner spent last year with the Rams, and while he was only there one season, he was clearly missed based on the reaction from fans in attendance Wednesday. Wagner was greeted with big cheers throughout practice, and especially after it ended when he took a microphone to address the crowd.
"It feels amazing to be back," Wagner told the fans. "Thanks for your love, all your tweets. I'm excited for this season, and that first game is going to be a blast… I'm just excited I've got the right colors back on."
Wagner also demonstrated plenty on the field, including not only his skills and smarts, but also his willingness, in Year 12, to still make hustle plays like pursuing a play all the way to the sideline.
"He's the consummate leader," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He understands how important it is to send that message, that's why he did it. He wants to make sure guys see him and he shows them how to play. He has never not been that way."
In one of the more interesting developments on Day 1 of camp, Carroll noted that Jarran Reed, who returned to Seattle this offseason, is playing nose tackle. Reed, a defensive tackle in Seattle's old 4-3 scheme, was listed as a 3-4 defensive end when he signed, meaning he would play outside of a nose tackle but inside of an outside linebacker, but on Wednesday he indeed found himself lined up between ends Mario Edwards Jr. and Dre'Mont Jones.
"One of the keys here is Jarran Reed coming back to us," Carroll said when asked about the team's defensive front. "J-Reed playing nose tackle for us is crucial. He's a terrific player and he's just as tough, as physical and as knowledgeable as you can get. He'll be great there. That really is going to be one of the key elements of building it around him. We're really counting on him to be a big factor."
"Given To Fly"
Throughout offseason workouts, one of the players most often receiving praise from coaches and teammates was receiver Dee Eskridge. A former second-round pick, Eskridge has struggled to stay healthy during his first two seasons, limiting his playing time and production, but after a healthy offseason, Eskridge picked up where he left off to start camp, making several nice plays, including a long run following a short catch, as well as a nice contested grab over the middle on a well-placed pass from Drew Lock.
"He's a special player, he's a special athlete," Carroll said. "He's got explosiveness that's unique, he's really strong for a smaller guy. He's not a big guy, but he's really, really strong and very explosive. So we're really excited to just have him back out here practicing with us. Because if he stays with us and he can stay on the field, he's going to be a factor."
"Around the Bend"
Carroll noted that the outside linebacker competition should be fierce in training camp as the likes of Uchenna Nwosu, Darrell Taylor, Boye Mafe, Derick Hall and Tyreke Smith all compete for playing time. The good news is that Carroll prefers a deep rotation there to keep players fresh, so all should be able to earn significant playing time, but it will still be fun to see who emerges as the standouts of that group.
While it was only one play on Day 1, Hall made a good early impression in the team portion of practice, blowing by his blocker on a running play to shoot into the backfield for what would have been a tackle for loss had the defense been tackling players to the ground.
"Not For You"
Despite having two Pro Bowl safeties in Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, the Seahawks still made a significant addition at that position this offseason, signing former Giants starter Julian Love. The Seahawks did so because they saw Love as simply too good of a player not to pursue, and because Carroll likes the idea of playing with all three safeties on the field quite a bit this season.
And it didn't take Love long to show the type of playmaking that made him a top target of the Seahawks, with him recording an interception early in practice, showing quick reflexes and good hands to intercept a pass over the middle after it was tipped by DK Metcalf.
Football is back! The Seahawks held their first practice of Training Camp on Wednesday, July 26 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.