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Seahawks Expecting Big Things From WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba In Year 2

As he prepares for his second season in the NFL, Jaxon Smith-Njigba looks poised to have a breakout year.


Let's get this part out of the way first.

Jaxson Smith-Njigba was really good as a rookie.

No, his numbers weren't quite on par with the NFL's top rookie receivers, but he still made a ton of big plays despite splitting targets with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and despite the fact that a hamstring injury limited him in offseason workouts leading up to his first training camp, then a fractured wrist caused him to miss valuable time just before the start of the regular season, and caused him to play the first few games of the season with a cast on his wrist.

No doubt in part because of those setbacks, Smith-Njigba didn't get off to the fastest of starts, finishing with fewer than 50 yards in each of his first five games while failing to reach the end zone. But the first-round pick out of Ohio State got going as the season progressed, seeing both his playing time and production pick up, finishing the year with 63 catches for 628 yards and four touchdowns, two of them game-winning scores in the final minute of victories over Cleveland and Philadelphia.

All of that being said, for all the positives Smith-Njigba showed last season, particularly in the second half of the season, he knows, as do his teammates and coaches, that there is a lot more potential in his game for the upcoming season.

"I felt like it was a good foundation," Smith-Njigba said of his rookie campaign. "I can grow from it. A lot of growing pains, a lot of ups and downs, but kind of similar from first years of college and in high school. Kind of the same thing. I look forward going into the second year after completing a good offseason and training camp and just going on from that. But last year, not making the playoffs and not winning as many games as we wanted to. That didn't sit well with me and so I'm looking for change this year."

Smith-Njigba has gotten off to a good start in his quest to take the next step in his second season, stacking one standout performance after another in OTAs and minicamp, and he seems to be finding a home in new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb's offense.

"Just loving what I'm seeing right now," he said. "A lot of motions, a lot of putting us in the right position to make plays. Simple as that. I'm with him. We're rocking and rolling right now… Just seeing Coach Grubb and his creativity on the motions and how we're going to line up and things like that, so it's definitely different, a lot of energy and I feel good about it."

And while the presence of Metcalf and Lockett means Smith-Njigba won't necessarily be the No. 1 target in any particular game, the Seahawks are still expecting him to be a focal point of the offense.

"JSN is a great player and expecting great big things out of him," Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald said. "He's had a great offseason. Works his tail off. His practice habits are awesome. Moving ability is pretty elite. I think we got a really cool plan for him."

Later on in the offseason program, Macdonald was again asked about Smith-Njigba and added, "He's a guy that we can focus our offense around, with our guys. Tyler Lockett is still a great player. DK Metcalf, phenomenal player, Noah Fant. I mean, (Smith-Njigba) is definitely going to be a massive piece of what we're trying to do offensively."

Perhaps no one player is more familiar with Smith-Njigba's game than fellow 2023 first-round pick Devon Witherspoon, who has lined up frequently across from Smith-Njigba in practice since both players arrived in Seattle. The two have also become close friends and huge supporters of each other’s games in addition to being fierce competitors in practice.

Witherspoon, a Pro-Bowler as a rookie who also has big expectations in his second season, said Smith-Njigba has shown, "Just a big amount of growth. The way they utilize him now in this offense. He's just going to be a really special player. I can't wait to see what he does for sure."

Check out some of the best photos taken of Seahawks' wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba from the 2023 season.

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