The Seahawks returned to action on Sunday following a day off, the final day of the acclimation period during camp, meaning they will practice in pads on Monday. In addition to some injury news provided by Pete Carroll, here are five observations from Sunday's practice:
1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had maybe the best catch of camp.
Rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba has had at least a highlight play or two in every practice, and Sunday was no exception. Smith-Njigba had some good battles with fellow first-round pick Devon Witherspoon, most notably when he made a great contested catch to convert on third down despite tight coverage from Witherspoon.
But while that was a very good play, it wasn't his best of the day. That came later in a red-zone drill when he elevated in the back of the end zone to snag a pass from Geno Smith, then managed to get both feet down as he fell out of the back of the end zone. Smith-Njigba then got up and slapped his hands down to show where he got his feet in bounds as the official signaled touchdown at the same time.
"He's really a gifted athlete," Carroll said, "Timing, hand-eye (coordination), body control, extraordinary natural quickness, and he makes things look really easy. I couldn't imagine him not being part of the mix right from the beginning. It just comes too easy for him. We're looking for the spots we can put him in, how to move him around, and see how much he can handle. There's nothing that's holding him back. He's hitting it off with Geno really well right now."
2. Bobby Wagner "Looks like the guy we've always known."
Bobby Wagner turned 33 last month and is preparing for his 12th season of playing one of the most physical positions in the sport, but if time and all of those hits have taken a toll on Wagner, it sure isn't showing in training camp for the six-time first-team All-Pro. That was particularly evident on Sunday when Wagner had several highlight plays, most notably a pass breakup 40 or so yards down field on which he ran stride-for-stride with running back DeeJay Dallas, as well as a reverse he sniffed out, keeping DK Metcalf from turning the corner.
"He's moving really, really well," Carroll said. "He looks like the guy that we've always known. He's having a blast with these guys and of course everyone has accepted him readily and all. It's really pleasing to see him having so much fun and look so good."
3. Tre Brown "was all over the place."
With Riq Woolen on the physically unable to perform list, Seattle's starting cornerbacks so far in camp have been Michael Jackson, a starter last season, and Tre Brown, who won a starting job midway through the 2021 season before a knee injury ended his rookie season, then played sparingly last year after coming back from that injury. And just as Jackson has been showing he isn't going to give up his starting spot without a fight, Brown is also making a strong case for playing time even when the Seahawks are back to full strength.
On Sunday, Brown had an impressive pass breakup on a deep ball to Tyler Lockett, then later had another touchdown-saving play by elevating to bat down a pass intended for DK Metcalf in the back of the end zone. Finally, Brown capped his day with an interception in seven-on-seven drills, picking off a pass intended for Will Dissly.
"He had a great day today," Carroll said. "He was all over the place. The play he made on the post route was better than any of the other ones, but he also made a great play in the back of the end zone—Geno threw a perfect ball to DK on the back line, sky high, and (Brown) got up too and got his hand on the football and got it knocked away, and then he had a pick too on a scramble situation. He had a beautiful day."
4. Kenny McIntosh has been "one of the highlights" early in camp.
Kenny McIntosh had a productive career at Georgia, but fell to the seventh round of the draft in no small part because he didn't test well in the spring, including a 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine. But while that 40-time isn't great for a running back, McIntosh has looked anything but slow during his first NFL training camp, a fact that was highlighted early in Sunday's practice when he showed off good vision and agility to make a move at the line of scrimmage, then used his speed to run away from the defense once he was in the open field for a long touchdown.
Carroll noted that McIntosh came back to camp a bit lighter than he was during offseason workouts, and is making a good early impression, even before Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet were sidelined by injuries.
"He has been probably one of the highlights," Carroll said. "When everybody was here, he was one of the highlighted players. He lost about 10 pounds from when he was here in the springtime, and he's in great shape and is just razor sharp. He has been explosive and innovative with his running and his cuts, caught the ball well. He's done really well."
5. The Seahawks are working to find the right combination at cornerback.
With a lot of talent and depth at cornerback, it will likely take all of training camp and the preseason to sort out who ends up starting and in what roles. While Carroll has said he likes Riq Woolen at right cornerback, most of the other corners have versatility, giving the Seahawks a lot of options.
Last year's starting nickel, Coby Bryant, was an outside corner in college and has been playing both roles in camp, as well as getting a little bit of time at safety, Carroll said. Devon Witherspoon has also played inside and outside, while Michael Jackson has worked on both the left and right side. Brown has mostly been at left cornerback during camp but as a rookie he also played on the right side. That kind of versatility and talent is making cornerback one of the most intriguing positions in training camp.
"We've got good depth at corner, and we've got a chance to work some different positions," Carroll said. "We've moved Coby around a couple of times too, he's playing on both sides, playing some safety a little bit as well. We're just trying to find the right combination, see what's competitive. We won't really be able to call it until Woolen gets back out there."
The Seahawks closed out the weekend in front of the 12s at practice on Sunday, July 30, 2023.