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Pete Carroll Sees "Excellent Group" In 2019 Rookie Class

While some members of Seattle’s 2019 draft class have been limited in their opportunities early in their rookie season, the Seahawks remain high on the long-term potential for that group.

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Seahawks rookie receiver DK Metcalf has started four of five games this season, ranks second on the team in receiving yards with 267, has two touchdown receptions and is averaging a gaudy 22.3 yards per catch.

In other words, the second-round pick out of the University of Mississippi has been an unambiguous success early in his NFL career. For the rest of Seattle's 2019 draft class, the early contributions haven't been quite as obvious, but that doesn't change the enthusiasm the Seahawks have for that 11-player draft class.

Some players, such as first-round pick L.J. Collier, have been slowed by injuries, others are just stuck behind talented veterans when it comes to playing time, and two, Demarcus Christmas and Phil Haynes, are on the physically unable to perform list, but whether it has been on special teams or in practice, those rookies have still found ways to impress.

"We like these guys now," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Cody (Barton) and BBK (Ben Burr-Kirven) are doing a really good job contributing. Travis Homer is doing a really good job contributing on special teams. Those guys are playing the big factor for us in that they're in on everything. I think that L.J. is going to show you here now in the next few weeks that he's going to be able to figure into what's happening. It's just taken him a while. He missed so much football. I'm planning on him being a factor this week and continue to grow with that. I think it's a really good class. I like both of our young receivers. We like the guys that have been around just a little bit longer. Both those guys can play. That's why they're on the team. They're really good players for the near future and for the long-term future as well. I think it's an excellent group. Every one of the guys are contributing in a way that they show us they belong. There's no doubt in our mind. It's really going to be good for the long haul here."

Collier, the 29th overall pick, missed almost all of training camp and all four preseason games because of an ankle injury, putting him behind coming into his rookie year. As a result, he has been inactive for three of five games, but Carroll sees the defensive end out of TCU taking on a bigger role soon.

"We're going to play him, when he's up, he's playing," Carroll said. "We don't have any hesitation to play him in the games. He'll just continue to play better. He's really practiced hard. Since he got back from his injury, he's just been more focused and his attention to details have just been better. He's in better shape than he was when he left for camp. Coming back to camp, he's in better shape. He's getting there. I'm really anxious to get him to play and contribute. He'll do some good stuff for us… He's got great length. In that, he uses it in his pass rush. He's a penetrating player. Gets in the backfield because of his quickness. He's going to make stuff happen. We don't have any thought about that he's not going to be a really good player. We just think it's time and experience."

Second-round pick Marquise Blair showed flashes of playmaking ability in the preseason, but his regular-season chances have been limited with Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson and Lano Hill ahead of him on the depth chart. But again, Carroll is encouraged about the future of Blair, who also missed time in offseason workouts and camp due to injury.

"Marquise showed so well in preseason," Carroll said. "Again, he just missed so much and he's behind guys that have all played here and given us a lot of confidence in their background. It's hard to get him in there. When do you work him in these games? There's not much time to do that. He has shown the brightest spots of any of the players in the hits that he's made, the plays that he's made on special teams running and hitting, to give us really high hopes that he's going to be a really big factor. He's got a knack for hitting football and being around the ball. We think he's going to be good. He's just playing behind some guys that know what they're doing and it's hard to unseat those guys. He is in the competition this week again. He's practicing for play time this week. We've already conveyed that to him. We think he deserves that. He and Lano will be working really hard in practice this week for more play time."

Fellow rookie defensive back Ugo Amadi has seen limited playing time on defense, but he has been a standout on special teams, particularly as a gunner on punt coverage. Amadi is tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with two, and in last week's win over the Rams he downed a Michael Dickson punt at the 1-yard line, a play that helped lead to an eventual Seahawks touchdown after the Rams went three-and-out and punted, giving the Seahawks good field position.

"We've seen him throughout preseason, when he had his real chances, to demonstrate the poise that it takes to make plays," Carroll said. "He's made really good choices and he's taken advantage of the opportunities like a player who thinks of himself as a guy that can make big plays. He's not just out there going through the motions and just trying to hold on. He's out there to do stuff and I think it's probably why he scored six touchdowns in college in the last couple years or whatever. He just does stuff. I know our scouts looking at him caught the eye because of the play making ability and he continues to show that kind of stuff. I think that's an example of it. We work on that stuff all the time, but you still have to demonstrate the poise and just chill that a terrific athlete does. I thought that was a really good demonstration of that. Wasn't even a surprise because he just does stuff all the time. He's working his way in too."

Photos from Wednesday's Seahawks practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns.

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