A year ago, Marquise Blair was one of the biggest bright spots in Seahawks training camp.
Aside from the established veterans like Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Tyler Lockett, perhaps no players stood out last summer as much as DK Metcalf, newcomer Jamal Adams and Blair, who in his second season was transitioning from safety to the nickel cornerback role.
Unfortunately for Blair and the Seahawks, the former second-round pick didn't get a chance to show what he could do in that new role for an entire season, because in a fluke injury—teammate K.J. Wright crashed into Blair's knee as the two were making a tackle—Blair tore his ACL, causing him to miss the rest of the season.
But while Blair's 2020 season was cut short, he is back on the field for camp this summer, even making it back for offseason workouts as well, and as was the case last year, he's making his presence felt.
"I have nothing but really positive observations, high praise," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I love is his mentality, his toughness and his style of play. He's already made a bunch of plays out here. He looks really good. He's had a good chance to get a lot of reps at safety, as well as the nickel spot. He's an explosive football player, and we really missed not having him last year."
Blair also dealt with an ACL injury in college, so he knew what the comeback would be like, and 10 months removed from the injury, he says he's better, physically, than he was pre-injury.
"I feel faster, stronger, smarter, everything," Blair said.
While Blair is competing for the nickel spot with fellow 2019 draft pick Ugo Amadi, who played well in that role last year after replacing Blair, he is also still getting work at safety, his position in college and during his rookie season in Seattle. With Jamal Adams currently not practicing, Blair has gotten work with the starting defense at strong safety, he has worked at free safety, the position at which he started three games as a rookie, he has continued to work at the nickel spot, and he has been involved on special teams.
"I'll do whatever," he said. "I can do anything on defense, I can play any position, I think… Nickel is a package, so base package, you've got to play safety. They've still got me at strong and free, so I'm playing everywhere."
Blair hadn't played the nickel spot prior to last year, but didn't see it as a huge change from playing safety.
"It's pretty much the same thing," he said. "Being a defensive back, you've got to be able to cover, blitz, fit in the gaps. It's pretty much the same thing as safety."
As for competing with Amadi for what is essentially a starting spot—NFL teams often play 60 percent or more of their defensive snaps in nickel—Blair noted that the two are close having joined the Seahawks as part of the same draft class, but that each is competing hard to win the job.
"That's my brother," Blair said. "He's a great player, but we've both got families to feed."
Photos from Seahawks Training Camp practice, held on Saturday, July 31 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.