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Pete Carroll "The Ageless Wonder" & Other Observations From Practice No. 16 Of Seahawks Training Camp

News, notes and observations from the 16th practice of training camp, the final session open to the public.


The Seahawks were back in action on Wednesday, practicing in mid-90s heat as they prepare for Saturday's preseason game against the Cowboys. Wednesday's practice was the last one open to fans at this year's training camp, which means for the last time during 2023 training camp…

Here are five observations from today's action at Seahawks training camp:

1. Pete Carroll is "The Ageless Wonder."

If players needed any extra motivation pushing through practice with temperatures pushing the mid-90s, which is unusually hot in this part of the country, they needed to look no farther than their head coach, who at 71 continues to defy father time.

Throughout his coaching career Carroll has brought a seemingly endless supply of energy and enthusiasm to the job, and at an age where a lot of folks might have a hard time getting around, Carroll runs around the practice field like he's ready to get in a few reps at safety, the position he played at University of the Pacific in the early 70s. It's also a regular occurrence for Carroll to run 100-yard sprints from end zone to end zone early in practice, something he was doing again on Wednesday in his signature khakis, Nike Air Monarchs and a long sleeve shirt.

"That's Pete," quarterback Geno Smith said. "That's Pete, man. He's the ageless wonder, man. He's one of those guys that, you look at him, he motivates you every single day. You see your head coach out there running sprints, it doesn't matter how old he is. He's out there, it's hot out here, and he's working as hard as we're working. So when you've got a head coach like that, it's not hard to come to work and give it your all."

2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is human after all… but he's still having one hell of a camp.

Midway through Wednesday's practice, a strange thing happened. Smith threw a pass to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was running a slant route, and the ball hit off the rookie's hands and fell to the ground.

Reporters watching practice exchanged glances and wondered out loud if the first round pick had dropped a pass at all in the first three weeks of camp, and no one could recall an instance. It came only a day after Carroll said on Seattle Sports 710AM that he had not recalled seeing the first-round pick out of Ohio State drop a pass outside of individual drills early in practice.

"It might have been," Smith said when asked if it was the first drop he had seen from Smith-Njigba. "I don't expect that to happen again for a long, long time. It happens every now and then for all of us."

The fact that a drop in seven-on-seven drills was that noteworthy only illustrates what an excellent camp Smith-Njigba is having as a rookie, having done just about everything right on a daily basis.

Asked what has stood out about the rookie, Smith said, "Just with his assignments and understanding what to do. When you come in as a young player, you're picking up the playbook, you're learning new things, a new way to run routes, and a new way to schematically beat defenses, and as the weeks have gone by, you can just tell he's getting more and more comfortable, understanding all the positions, all the concepts, and then he's playing faster. He's making quick decisions—we've got option routes where he's making decisions, and he's seeing the same thing we're seeing as quarterbacks, and he's getting to the right spots. After that, he's just being himself."

3. Drew Lock connected with rookie Matt Landers for the play of the day.

While Lock finds himself in a different situation this year compared to a year ago when he was competing with Smith for the starting job, he has still made a very good impression on coaches and teammates alike both with how he is handling the backup role, and also with his play.

And on Wednesday, Lock showed off his impressive arm talent on a few different occasions, with the highlight coming on a long touchdown pass to rookie receiver Matt Landers. With the ball spotted at the 45-yard line during a seven-on-seven drill, Lock launched a perfect deep ball towards the front pylon, a pass that flew roughly 60 yards, and the ball his Landers in stride, with the rookie making the catch after getting a step on his man.

4. Jonathan Sutherland continues to state his case for a spot on the team.

Sutherland did unfortunately appear to suffer some sort of injury on the final play of practice, though until Carroll addresses the media on Thursday, the severity of any potential injury was not known. Sutherland was able to walk off the field under his own power after being checked out by athletic trainers.

The Seahawks have had a least one or two undrafted rookies make the team nearly every season since Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over the team, and while it's too soon to say what undrafted rookie will make the team this year, a couple have started to stand out in practices and the preseason opener, and one of them is Jonathan Sutherland, a safety out of Penn State. Sutherland has earned the praise of Carroll on a few occasions, and with Devon Witherspoon out, Sutherland has gotten work with the No. 1 defense, particularly in dime packages when he comes on as a sixth defensive back. Sutherland worked in that role again on Wednesday, and had a nice pass breakup, undercutting a crossing route, among other highlights.

"He's really aggressive, very instinctive, and had some really nice hits (in the preseason opener) on special teams and defense," Carroll said. "He played good football for us. He's played a couple of different spots. He's playing some nickel and some safety. He's been very versatile so far. I really like him because he's been a very instinctive football player that has a knack for going for it."

5. Riq Woolen and Kenneth Walker II continue to make progress.

Two of the NFL's top rookies in 2022, Riq Woolen and Kenneth Walker III, have seen their Year 2 training camps get off to slow starts due to injury. Woolen opened camp on the physically unable to perform list due to a knee injury, while Walker injured his groin in the first week of camp and has only recently started to make his way back.

Walker returned to practice on a limited basis on Saturday, then was in what Carroll referred to as walkthrough mode the next couple of days, but he was back on the field in a helmet and cleats on Wednesday. He was limited in his workload once again, but it was another positive step in his recovery.

"He's going to make it back (for Week 1), there's no doubt," Carroll said Tuesday. "He looked like he is healed. He too needs more work so we can guarantee that he can stay, but he looked great today."

Woolen, meanwhile, has started taking part in the team portion of practice this week, jumping back in with the starting defense as he knocks off a little bit of rust, and on Wednesday he had a nice pass breakup, breaking early on a throw to reach around the receiver and bat down the pass on a comeback route.

"He's moving well, running really fast," Carroll said. "It's going to take him some time though to really get the confidence. What he talks about is it feels like his feet aren't going the way he wants them to go. He's still rusty right now. But working against DK (Metcalf) is going to get you ready."

The Seahawks practice in Renton, Wash. on Aug. 16, 2023 for the final public practice of training camp.

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