Standing at a podium wearing a Rolling Stones T-shirt, Tariq Woolen explained his sartorial choice, sounding very much like the just-out-college 23-year-old that he is.
The Seahawks rookie cornerback, as it turns out, didn't pack enough clothing when he moved to Seattle, so he went to a nearby Target and, as he put it, "I just went in there and got an outfit."
And no, Woolen, who was born 35 years after the Stones released their debut album, isn't really a fan of the band, but rather he just liked the look of the famous tongue and lips logo.
"Shoot, I just like the shirt, really," he said. "It's cool, I haven't really listened to The Rolling Stones before, but as long as they keep making shirts like this, I'll wear it."
But as unassuming as Woolen comes across explaining that press-conference wardrobe, his play through the first couple weeks of training camp has been anything but understated. And the impact of the fifth-round pick out of UTSA was never more evident than in Saturday's mock game at Lumen Field.
Playing with the No. 1 defense due to an injury to Sidney Jones IV, Woolen was tested frequently and almost always came out on top. There was a deep ball to Marquise Goodwin that Woolen nearly intercepted after going step-for-step with the speedy receiver—or if you ask Woolen, that he did intercept. There was the sideline pass that was briefly in Goodwin's hands before Woolen knocked it loose, and of course, there was the one play Woolen seemingly made, only to have it turn into a touchdown due to a little bit of bad luck for Woolen and good concentration on the part of receiver Cody Thompson. On that play, Drew Look saw a look he liked, coverage wise, and took a shot to Thompson, but Woolen was all over his mad, leading to the ball deflecting off of Woolen, only to fall to Thompson, who made the catch for a 20-yard touchdown just before the ball hit the ground.
"Honestly, I thought I did a good job," Woolen said of that Thompson touchdown. "It was still good coverage, but you've got to finish the play. I was thinking the ball may have went out of bounds. I was just looking for it and the next thing you know I turn around, and he's lying on the ground like this with the ball and I was like 'Oh wow.' It was just a good play though."
And a bit of bad luck notwithstanding, Saturday's mock game was one of the best days so far in what has been a very impressive camp for Woolen, who along with fellow rookie cornerback Coby Bryant, looks capable of pushing veterans Jones and Artie Burns for the starting spots at corner.
"This was really good work for him, he was out there with Quandre (Diggs) and Jamal (Adams) hollering at him and getting him lined up," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It was a really profitable day for him."
Woolen came to Seattle as a fifth-round pick who has incredible physical traits, even by NFL cornerback standards, standing 6-foot-4 with arms measuring 33 5/8 inches, and having run a 4.26-second 40-yard dash and posted a 42-inch vertical leap at the NFL Scouting Combine. But he was also perceived as being somewhat raw, particularly because he is a converted receiver with limited experience at cornerback. That inexperience hasn't shown up very often in camp, however, as Woolen, like Bryant, is looking awfully polished for a rookie who is less than two weeks into his first NFL camp. Particularly intriguing have been the battles Woolen has had with Goodwin, a veteran receiver who also possess world-class speed and who took part in the 2012 Olympics as a long jumper.
"I just know against him, I've got to get on my high horse, because I am a fast guy too, but that dude is a different speed too," Woolen said. "So going against him I just try to make sure I stay disciplined to my technique and try to get my hands on him too, because I've got long arms."
And for all of Goodwin's speed, neither he nor Seattle's other speedy receivers have found themselves open behind Woolen too often.
"God, he's a physical specimen," quarterback Geno Smith said. "I mean, he's amazing… When you're trying to throw passes on a guy like that, you really can see his wingspan. He can make a ton of plays and there aren't many guys who can run step for step with DK Metcalf and Marquise Goodwin, but he's one of them."
Said Drew Lock when talking about his touchdown pass to Thompson, "He's a really good player. He makes you think a little bit at the line. When it's, 'All right, I know I got a one-on-one with number 39 out there, but we better have a guy that can fly by him, because if there's any ball in the area, he's going to be able to get his hand on it, or in that case his head on it."
It's too soon to predict what type of role Woolen or Bryant will have as a rookie, but as Saturday's mock game demonstrated, Woolen is getting comfortable in Seattle's defense, and doing so in a hurry.
"It's been pretty smooth," Woolen said of his transition to the NFL so far. "As a rookie, you've just got to find your way. As much as the coaches trust in me, I just keep trying to buy in, knowing that you've just got to trust the process. Whenever they ask what you're working on today, or this day, I just try to keep pounding the rock, keep pounding on it, and just make sure every day I keep getting better. The more that I do that, the more comfortable I feel, and the more my teammates trust in me too, then I'll just feel more comfortable."