Returning to the field after a six week break, the Seahawks ushered into the 2022 season by holding their first open training camp practice in front of fans on Wednesday.
What went down in the first session at the VMAC? Here’s five quick observations, including how the quarterbacks performed and the latest on DK Metcalf:
1. Geno Smith and Drew Lock endured sloppy afternoons to kick off their quarterback competition.
Ramping up their battle to replace Russell Wilson under center, Smith received the bulk of the first-team reps as he did throughout Seattle’s offseason program. But unlike May and June, he wasn’t sharp most of practice, firing several errant passes during team sessions, including a wobbly five-yard dump off to Marquise Goodwin that was thrown behind the receiver and bounced into the hands of cornerback Sidney Jones for at interception. He did make an excellent throw improvising after the pocket collapsed, rolling out to his right after stepping up and finding Tyler Lockett coming uncovered from Jones downfield for a long gain.
As for Lock, the fourth-year passer didn’t feel comfortable with pressure bearing down on him, stepping up in the rush on several occasions. While he made a few nice touch throws with his reps and got some first-team looks late in the session, he underthrew a couple of deep passes and made some questionable decisions with the football, including throwing an ill-advised pass across his body while rolling out to his left on the final play of the practice. To make up ground on Smith, he will have to turn the page from a shaky practice and improve his accuracy and decision making moving forward.
2. Thanks to sand workouts, Rashaad Penny hasn’t missed a beat after a strong finish to the 2021 season and showed up for camp in peak condition.
With practices still functioning like OTAs and minicamps with contact prohibited, running backs such as Penny can’t be evaluated running through defenses that can’t tackle. But after bursting onto the scene with a league-best 706 rushing yards in the final six weeks of the 2021 season, the former first-round pick out of San Diego State hasn’t rested on his laurels and clearly put in the work this offseason to achieve similar success in 2022.
Arriving to camp at 237 pounds according to coach Pete Carroll, Penny looks lean and explosive playing at a weight that maximizes his speed and power. Whether during individual or team drills, he’s running with an extra gear compared to his peers and he’s eager to prove his performance from last December and January wasn’t a fluke as he steps into a full-time starting role for the first time.
What’s been the difference for Penny? The dynamic ball carrier credits running sprints in sand for his improved conditioning and health. These workouts have helped strengthen his surgically repaired knee as well as his hamstrings, which he believes will help him stay on the field after battling through numerous injuries in his first four seasons.
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3. Cornerbacks – veterans and rookies alike – won the day creating turnovers and breaking up passes.
While the offense slogged through the first practice and didn’t find the end zone once, a competitive cornerback group came up with most of the highlight plays on Wednesday. Jones, who re-signed with Seattle on a one-year deal in March, got off to a strong start holding onto his starting job on the left side with his interception of Smith, finding himself in the right place at the right time as the pass skipped off Goodwin’s finger tips. He had solid coverage on opposing receivers most of the afternoon, while Artie Burns also got his hand on a pass breakup.
In another encouraging development for the Seahawks, fourth-round pick Coby Bryant continued his momentum from a strong finish to his first offseason program. Midway through the team period, Lock tried to connect with fellow rookie Bo Melton, who appeared to have a few steps on Bryant on a vertical route. The former Cincinnati star recovered nicely though, benefiting from a slightly underthrown pass to reach in front of Melton and knock the pass away with clean coverage. Both he and Tariq Woolen saw extensive reps with the second team defense and should be right in the thick of the competition.
4. With the exception of Lockett, minus DK Metcalf and Dee Eskridge, receivers had a pedestrian practice.
Corners such as Jones and Bryant deserve plenty of credit for getting off to a fast start, but not having to worry about No. 14 certainly makes their job a lot easier. Still seeking a long-term contract, Metcalf reported on time but did not participate in practice, standing as a bystander behind the huddle donning a green ball cap. Carroll indicated that the former All-Pro passed his physical, so his decision to “hold in” revolves solely around his contract status as he executes a similar leverage strategy deployed by players such as Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams in the past.
Without Metcalf or Eskridge – who was dealing with “tightness” after warmups per Carroll – on the field, Lockett made a couple nice catches on throws from Smith, catching a short curl route for a first down and picking up big yardage on the aforementioned extended play with Smith rolling out of the pocket. But otherwise, in part due to rocky quarterback play, receivers made a minimal impact in the first practice of camp. Overall, it was a quiet day for the group struggling to create separation and missing out on opportunities, including a dropped slant by Melton.
5. Familiar faces returned to the secondary at 100 percent health and further reinforcements could be coming soon.
Playing in their first practices since undergoing shoulder and ankle surgeries respectively and enduring lengthy recoveries this offseason, the Seahawks welcomed Pro Bowl safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs back into the fold. While neither player made any notable plays in the first session, simply seeing the two stars sporting a helmet, running around full speed in drill work, and jawing at teammates is a substantial development for the team. Additionally, Marquise Blair avoided starting camp on the PUP list and took part in practice, a positive sign he will be ready to compete at slot cornerback against Ugo Amadi and Justin Coleman.
While Blair made it back from a fractured knee cap and ran well on Wednesday, Seattle will have to wait a bit longer on second-year cornerback Tre Brown, who landed on the PUP list earlier this week as he continues to work his way back from a patellar tendon injury. But Carroll sounded optimistic about his chances of returning, telling reporters he has been running well and looks to be closing in on the finish line in a long recovery process, opening the door for him to be activated in the not-so-distant future and jump into the competition for a starting role.