A Russell Wilson deep ball hung up a bit in the wind, and DK Metcalf waited near the goal line, poised to make yet another big play.
Despite the presence of two defensive backs, cornerback Tre Flowers and safety Quandre Diggs, it almost seemed inevitable that Metcalf would come down with the jump ball, because, well, Metcalf is 6-feet-4 inches of freakish athleticism, but despite Metcalf getting to the ball first, he wasn't able to secure the grab, because Flowers made a perfect play, getting his left arm between Metcalf's hands to rip the ball away.
It was the type of play Flowers, who is heading into his fourth season at something of a crossroads, has been making throughout training camp.
"Tre has had a great camp, his is the best he's been," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's been on everything, he's come back with a real competitive mentality that's really bringing out the best in him. I think this is the most connected he is to our football and his mentality, and I don't think there's any distractions—he knows he's out here to battle and get his job, and he's done really well. He's played the ball the best he's played it since we've been here and has made a number of plays. He's always tough and physical and knows what he's doing and all that, so we count on him and love him and trust him and all that. It's really down to the production that, and really, he's been as good as anybody."
To say Flowers has had ups and downs in his career would be an understatement, but heading into his fourth season—and the final year of his rookie contract—the former college safety is playing his best and most consistent football as he competes for a starting job.
Flowers arrived in Seattle in 2018 as a fifth-round pick who had been a safety at Oklahoma State, but still ended starting at right cornerback as a rookie, in part because of injuries but also because he proved to be a quick study. Naturally there were growing pains that year, but Flowers continued to improve and kept that starting job in 2019. Last year, however, the Seahawks traded for Quinton Dunbar, who ended up opening the season the starter at right corner, but Flowers found himself back in the starting lineup when Dunbar went down with a knee injury. Flowers was playing arguably the best football of his career midway through last season, but was then sidelined by a hamstring injury, and D.J. Reed played so well after taking over that role that he stayed in the starting lineup even after Flowers returned.
"I felt like I was playing some of my best ball," Flowers said of his play last season. "It just wasn't my time. God has a plan, and it wasn't my time to stand out and do I wanted to do. I'm just coming out every day to work."
Now Flowers finds himself in the midst of a closely-contested competition for a starting spot at cornerback. Throughout camp, he and Reed have traded days running with the No. 1 offense at right corner, while Ahkello Witherspoon and Damarious Randall have been battling at left corner. For Flowers, how this competition plays out could have big implications on his future, both in terms of where he plays and what kind of second contract he could earn, but as competitive as the situation is, it's far from acrimonious between the players involved.
"It's just a 'each one, teach one' mentality," he said. "Everybody's looking out for each other, just want to see the best out of everybody, and may the best man win… I just want to see everyone succeed."
As for Flowers' approach to a Year 4 with so much at stake, he's making sure he stays focused on the present and not what has happened in the past or what could be in store for his future.
"This is a full reset," he said. "I'm just letting all of the years go before me. Not thinking about all of the plays I've missed and trying to get better every day… I just want this real bad. I want to be good, I want to be great. I want to make the plays."
The offseason reset wasn't a total 180 from what Flowers does any other offseason—after all, cornerbacks more than just about anybody in football need to have short memories—but there was an added emphasis on that approach this season.
"I really focused on it this year going into my fourth year," he said. "A lot of mental steps. I want to put it all together… I got hurt last year so a lot of stuff happened to me, and I just went on a full reset."
Though even if a reset was in order this year, Flowers didn't leave the past behind entirely. Instead, he looked back on his rookie year in order to try to recapture the fire he had when he was a raw rookie struggling through the learning process that came with being new to both the NFL and his position.
"I watched all of my rookie camp before all of the broken fingers and everything else," he said. "I was punching the ball, I was so pissed when anybody caught a hitch or a slant, any ball on me. I kind of took it back to that, I'm not giving up anything. I want to be on everything and be as sticky as possible, take it to the next level."
And whether it has been the reset or the knowledge that he is fighting for a starting job in a contract year, this camp has brought out the best in Flowers.
"He knows it's competitive," Carroll said. "He's just coming back fighting, clawing, and scratching. He's not giving it up, he's going for it. There's been no sign of anything other than he's pushing to be the best he's ever been, and he's looked the best he's ever looked. I'm really fired up for him to meet the competitive moment at this point, and I hope he can keep coming through, making stuff happen and can play, because if he's out there he's a stud. He's going to get every chance."
Photos from Seahawks Training Camp practice, held on Tuesday, August 10 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Seahawks Training Camp is presented by Safeway.