BOTHELL—The Seahawks held their annual mock game on Saturday, taking their training camp scrimmage on the road this year to Bothell's Pop Keeney Stadium where a standing-room-only crowd cheered them on.
While the blue team, which was comprised mostly of starters, got off to the type of quick start you might expect from the No. 1 offense and defense facing backups, the green team made a big comeback late—albeit when several starters on both sides of the ball were no longer playing for the blue team—winning 23-20 on a 12-yard Geno Smith touchdown pass to Jazz Ferguson on the final play of the game.
Here are seven observations from Saturday's mock game:
1. The fans made for a great gameday environment.
While the Seahawks have fans at training camp, playing at Pop Keeney with bleachers on both sides of the field made for a louder and more game-like environment.
"This was really a nice event for us, and I hope it was also for the fans and the people of Bothell," Carroll said. "This is a great little stadium right here, great tradition and all, and it made it a really special day for us too. Fans were good, good noise, good volume for us, so it helped us throughout. We were in some silent count stuff because of the crowd, so that's fitting."
Added quarterback Russell Wilson: "Coming out here was amazing. This was cool, we should do this more often. I think just to get out, change the scenery a little bit just have all the fans, it feels like it's a bigtime state championship football game or something like that. It was cool… It's good to have the crowd as intense and as loud as the stadium was. That was great for us to get ready for next week to play in our first preseason game at CenturyLink."
2. Russell Wilson was back.
Wilson missed Friday's practice to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Dr. Harrison B. Wilson Jr., marking the first time Wilson has ever missed a training camp or regular-season practice.
"I don't like missing practice ever, but life and family are more important than anything we do," Wilson said. "So to go back home and see my family and everything else and celebrate his life with them—it was a quick 24 hours, but it was worth it for sure."
Wilson was sharp despite the day off, competing 11 of 17 passes while leading the No. 1 offense to two touchdown drives and two field goal drives in six possessions. But more importantly, he was able to get away briefly to celebrate the life of his grandfather.
"It was great, it was a celebration of my grandfather's life, 94 years old, born in 1925, seen a lot, done a lot," he said. "A lot of special things he has done, and the legacy that he left was an amazing one. Being president of Norfolk State for 22 years… For my grandfather to be able to raise my dad, to raise my uncles, to be the man that he was, to be the leader that he was, it was inspirational… I know he's in a good place, I know he's up there with my dad right now and they're probably hanging out watching the Hawks, so it's cool."
3. Geno Smith, Jazz Ferguson and a phantom onside kick combined for a wild finish.
As mentioned earlier, the starters were in control for much of the mock game, but when a number of defensive starters were pulled from the game late, including Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, and Shaquill Griffin, the green team, led by Geno Smith, pulled off an impressive comeback.
First, Smith hit Ferguson for a 42-yard touchdown to make it a one-score game—though Tre Flowers nearly intercepted the pass, only to have it bounce of his hands and into Ferguson's. Since there were no kickoffs or punts in the game, Carroll decided that the green team recovered an onside kick that never really happened, crediting rookie linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven with the "recovery." On the ensuing possession, Smith made a couple of nice throws, then hit Ferguson in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown on the last play of the game.
"That was a tremendous finish for Geno there," Carroll said. "It was a great onside kick opportunity there that we seized."
4. The edge rushers flashed on a number of plays.
With Ziggy Ansah still working his way back, there have been questions about Seattle's pass rush, but there were plenty of encouraging signs from the edge rushers on Saturday, including sacks by Barkevious Mingo and Quinton Jefferson, and a tackle for loss on a running play by Cassius Marsh, who also got good pressure on a couple of other rushes. Linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Austin Calitro also recorded sacks, and while he wasn't credited with a sack because quarterbacks are off limits to contact, K.J. Wright got to Paxton Lynch with a nice rush and batted the ball out of his hand.
After starting at strongside linebacker last year and not featuring much as a pass rusher, Mingo has worked almost exclusively with the defensive ends this summer, and that work is starting to show up.
"We've really centered his focus on rushing the passer, and took him away from the linebacker spot, knowing he can go back there and help us as an emergency guy to play there, without question," Carroll said. "Just the dedicated work and the focus, the drilling, just his mentality totally on rushing the passer has already shown up. He's got fantastic speed, he's got great length, he has an incredible motor, and he works so hard. So we're just working at his game and hoping he can be a factor. We know he can rush, we want to see if we can make him a really good rusher that can be a big factor, so he's getting a great shot at it."
5. Jacob Hollister continues to be active in the passing game.
Tight end Jacob Hollister, who was added in an offseason trade with the Patriots, has had several strong practices of late, particularly as a pass-catcher, and he was a big factor again in the mock game, catching four passes to match Ferguson for the team lead. He helped set up the green team's first touchdown with consecutive catches that gained 20 and 16 yards, moving the ball to the 3-yard line.
"He's quick as a cat, he's catching the ball extremely well, he's getting open," Wilson said. "He's making a lot of great plays, as you saw today, the past several days. He had a great practice yesterday, the days before he has been great. He comes in with great professionalism, great vision, he gets open, he knows how to separate, he's got great speed, so he's doing a great job for us."
Added Carroll: "Jake continues to do good stuff. His mobility stands out. He's catching the football really well, we like moving him around—you could see he played all kinds of different spots today. He's doing a nice job."
6. Poona Ford's 100(ish)-yard dash.
Defensive tackles aren't usually known for their long speed, but Poona Ford got the crowd on its feet with a sprint that covered nearly the entire length of the field, even though the play was actually dead. When Geno Smith threw a pass away high and out of the back of the end zone, the ball bounced off the crossbar and back onto the field where Ford caught it near the goal line. For fun he started running as if it were an interception, then by the time he got to midfield fans were cheering him on, so he decided to finish the play.
"I'm counting on that," Carroll said with a laugh. "He's going to do that again sometime. Now he was a running back in high school just to let you know."
7. Injury updates.
The Seahawks appeared to escape the mock game with no new injuries, though Carroll did give updates on a handful of players who did not participate.
"It's looks like we made it through real healthy, which is great, that's as important as anything right now," Carroll said.
As for those who didn't suit up, Carroll said receiver DK Metcalf, "got a little oblique strain," at the end of Friday's practice.
"We just thought it was the right thing to get him this break tomorrow and get him back next week," Carroll said.
Linebacker Cody Barton has missed the past few days with what Carroll said was a "first degree groin strain. It's going to take him a few more days though. He's not quite back yet. He has had a fantastic camp so far and offseason and all of that. It'll be close for this weekend."
Defensive tackle Jarran Reed sat out with what Carroll called "a knee or something like that he just banged on. He just needed a break for a day."
Return specialist J.D. McKissic sat out with what Carroll called a mild foot sprain.
Tight end Ed Dickson also sat out with a knee injury "that's bothering him a little bit," Carroll said. "We're keeping him off it. We did MRI stuff and all that, we're taking a look at it. We'll break him for a couple of days and see what he's got."
Photos from Day 8 of Seahawks 2019 training camp, presented by Safeway, held on Saturday, August 3 at Bothell's Pop Keeney Stadium, where the team put on a series of gameday elements for the thousands of 12s in attendance.