At this time last year, Jordyn Brooks was spending the early days of his rookie season going through virtual offseason workouts just like every other NFL player. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, his first on-field work with the Seahawks was on the first day of training camp in late July.
This week, however, Brooks was on the field with most of his teammates, preparing for his second season in a much more traditional manner for an NFL player, which is just one reason why the 2020 first-round pick is expecting to take his game to another level this year.
"It can benefit a lot," he said of having in-person OTAs. "Last year with no offseason and then jumping right into training camp, it was kind of a little bit fast for me. So now we're out here in June in OTAs, a bit of an early start, so going to training camp I'll feel lot more comfortable, a lot more at ease with the playbook, with the guys that I'm playing with."
Brooks' rookie season didn't quite get off to the start he would have hoped coming in as a first-round pick out of Texas Tech. Thanks to Seattle's impressive veteran depth at linebacker, he opened the year outside of the starting lineup, then when Bruce Irvin went down with a torn ACL in Week 2, that opened the door for Brooks, only to see him sustain a knee injury of his own. Brooks eventually got healthy and became Seattle's starting weakside linebacker in base packages—in nickel K.J. Wright moved from strongside to weakside linebacker with Brooks coming off the field—and getting regular playing time, he began showing the talent that made him a first-round pick.
After playing 29 defensive snaps in the first three games and missing the next two due to injury, Brooks, recorded 57 tackles, two for a loss, over the next 11 games, including 30 tackles over the last five, then added eight tackles in his lone playoff game.
"I think the rookie year went OK," Brooks said. "It was a rough start having the injury. then getting back in the second half of the season, I thought that I finished pretty strong. And so now I've got some momentum coming into Year 2. I feel good going in, and we'll just seeing where we can go from here."
While Bobby Wagner still playfully calls Brooks "Rook"—his policy is that a player doesn't cease being a rookie until halfway through his second season—Brooks definitely doesn't plan on playing like an inexperienced rookie in his second season.
"My goal is just to be the best version of me, be the best football player I can possibly be, and then everything else will take care of itself," he said. "… I spent all offseason working on everything, every aspect of my game trying to get better. That's what I've been doing, continue to do. I'm ready to go into Year 2 strong."
And as things currently stand, the Seahawks likely will be asking Brooks to do more in his second season. As mentioned earlier, Brooks came off the field last season in nickel, meaning he might only play a third or so of the defensive snaps in any given game, depending on opposing offensive personnel. But with Wright still an unsigned free agent, all signs point to Brooks being an every-down player in his second season, giving him a chance to take on a much bigger role in the defense.
"I wouldn't say any pressure, but it's definitely shoes to fill," Brooks said of essentially taking over Wright's roll, presuming he isn't re-signed. "K.J. had an outstanding career here, he set the bar high for sure. There's definitely no slack here, I'm just ready to get in and prove that I can do this."
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' organized team activities held on Tuesday, June 8 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.