Off the cuff
D.K. Metcalf is easy to like
You have heard and read about Metcalf from others. I certainly have. With all respect to those reports, I always wait for form my opinion until I see the player for myself. My first impressions of Metcalf were reassuring. Not only does he look the part, but he moves remarkably for a man of his size. He was fourth in line doing kick returns behind Tyler Lockett, David Moore, and Rashaad Penny. Those three guys are 6’0″ or less, but it was the 6’3″ Metcalf who accelerated like a little guy. Your eyes are drawn to the uncommon movement.
I watched him run routes and catch passes against air with Russell Wilson early in practice and then run those same out-breaking routes during 7v7 and team drills. He looks fine getting out of his break. That will never be his strength, but he has this massive frame he can use to wall off defenders and long arms that mean a corner has to not only break on the route, but get around his body and reach as far as his arms. In other words, he doesn’t have to run routes like Doug Baldwin to be a big problem for defenders.
I have been bullish on Metcalf since the draft, and nothing has changed. Next up, seeing him in pads against press coverage, and then in a game against opponents.
Myers and Dickson Look Like Uncommon Partners
With practice being on the far field today, it was challenging to see some of the action, but it also provided a chance to get an up-close look at the kickers who spent their time on the field right in front of us. Both Jason Myers and Michael Dickson looked fantastic.
Dickson was booming 60+ yard punts and working on different spins and angles. Myers was nailing kicks from all distances out to 58-yards. That kick would have been good from 65 at least.
It was an impressive show that could only help increase the confidence in the kicking game, but what caught my eye was how Myers was working with Dickson. It is not unusual for the kickers and long snapper to be close given that they are somewhat isolated from the rest of the team. What I can’t remember seeing is the kicker helping the punter or vice versa. That’s exactly what Myers was doing today with Dickson.
He was demonstrating different rhythm steps prior to the punt and possibly different launch points. Dickson was listening intently. It would be easy to wonder whether it is good news that an All-Pro punter is being influenced by a kicker. After all, if it ain’t broke…
I walked away with a different impression. It seems like Myers and Dickson could be a wonderful pair of obsessive specialists who help each other improve and never get complacent. They could be around Seattle for a while.
Simeon Thomas is intriguing
Thomas is a 6’3″ cornerback with 35 inch arms who was drafted last year by the Cleveland Browns in the 6th round. Seattle picked him up when finalizing the 53-man roster, and kept him around all season. Thomas has a very unique build. His legs are incredibly long and slender. Football people would call him “high cut.” His arms are super long as well, and he has broad shoulders that make him look physical enough to play this sport.
It is way too early to say Thomas is a player worthy of making the roster, but it is easy to see why John Schneider and the coaching staff were intrigued. Unique athletes have the best potential to be unique players.
Paxton Lynch had a heck of a day
If you had asked me before today what percentage chance Paxton Lynch had of winning the backup quarterback role, I would have told you something close to 0%. Geno Smith is more experienced and savvy and less error-prone.
I reluctantly wrote a first note early in practice complimenting a truly gorgeous throw by Lynch 40 yards downfield into the waiting arms of rookie free agent wide receiver Jazz Ferguson. It felt like a waste of time to even take a note because Lynch just is not good enough. Then, he did it again. And again. And again.
I counted at least four plus throws (well above average difficulty and execution). He did have a pick to Shalom Luani late in practice, but there is no doubt Lynch won the day at backup QB. We will see if he can win more than just one.
Newsflash: Defensive line is rough
There are really no great athletes jumping out in that group. It feels like a collection of backups, of whom four will be asked to start. Rasheem Green looks like he is in great shape. Jacob Martin continues to look twitchy and fast. Bryan Mone moves well for a 365-pound dude. Outside of that? It was pretty bleak.
Gary Jennings was conspicuous in his absence
Well, he wasn’t as much absent as he was invisible. I did not notice him all practice, so then I started wondering if he was hurt. My eyes darted around until they found his number #11 jersey getting ready to run a route in team drills. The pass went to John Ursua on that snap. Jennings made no plays that I saw. That does not mean he is bad. It just reinforces the notion that nobody should pencil in a fourth-round draft pick onto the 53-man roster. He is going to have to earn it.
Plenty of throws to running backs and tight ends
Chris Carson caught a few. Rashaad Penny caught a few. J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise and Travis Homer did as well. Lots of passes to the running backs, which I continue to expect to be a significant part of the offense this season.
There were also more passes to tight ends, and more variations of routes. Seattle has long had a seam route for tight ends, and they threw at least a couple today. I saw more motion from that position and more patterns that crossed the face of the quarterback as opposed to just running vertically. Again, this was just one practice, so it may have been an install they won’t use that often. Or, it may be an indication of how the offense is evolving.
A scare and sympathy
The Seahawks ran one of those crossing routes to a tight end during the middle of practice and the player who caught it immediately starting hobbling before being accidentally tackled by defenders. It was pretty clear to me it was going to be an achilles injury. It looks like his number was #88. I asked the people around me if they saw what number it was. Every one of them said they thought it was #88.
That would be Will Dissly, who was the starter returning from a serious knee injury. I tweeted that Dissly had gone down in heap and it did not look good as the cart was brought out. The player finally sat up and I could see it was #86, not #88. Tough to discern the difference from that far away, but as glad as I was to see that Dissly was not out for the year, I felt for TE Justin Johnson who Pete Carroll said did look to have an achilles injury. Apologies to folks who read my incorrect tweet.
Change is weird
It is still odd to see someone other than Michael Bennett running around in #72 and someone other than Frank Clark in #55. There was something iconic about Bennett in that number, at least in my head.
I have written in the past about the crazy video system the team has had to use to capture tape from practice get it cut up in time for coaches and players to review it after. For those who never read those articles, the brief synopsis is that two guys in cherry pickers would be high above practice from two different angles recording video on their cameras and then they would lower a bucket on a rope down to a runner who would put a fresh tape/memory card in the bucket while grabbing the full one and running it inside to start the editing process.
The team moved to a new system this year with fixed cameras on tall poles. No people involved. I’m assuming they are transferring the video wirelessly. They are so much less intrusive than the cherry pickers that it will help with seeing practice, but also made it harder to discern which field they were practicing on.
Other players who caught my eye
WR Malik Turner
Turner is a guy Seahawks fans continue to sleep on. He has good size at 6’2″, runs good routes, has good hands, and can run the whole route tree. He reminds me a bit of Darrell Jackson in that he is not great at any one thing, but is pretty good at a lot of things. If I’m Jennings, this is the guy who has me most concerned about earning a roster spot. Turner was on the Seahawks active roster for a few games last season.
Turner had a great over-the-shoulder catch of a Lynch throw deep down the left sideline and then followed that up with an even better diving over-the-shoulder snag for a touchdown from Lynch again. The first catch was probably 35 yards and the second was maybe 45 yards.
WR David Moore
Moore is even more oddly counted out by Seahawks fans considering he made huge strides in his second season. He had a nice day today with a few catches, including his speciality deep grabs. He is physical and competitive. Tight coverage does not bother him.
WR Jazz Ferguson
Ferguson stands 6’5″ tall and when he caught that deep pass from Lynch, I really thought he was a tight end. He moved well enough on that play as he had to cross the entire width of the field to track that ball, and he did that effortlessly. Definitely someone to watch for the practice squad.
QB Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson looked like the guy we all know. What I noticed was he appeared to be in great shape. His legs seemed smaller but more muscular. His whole body did for that matter. Those concerning “Dad bod” pics from the offseason are a distant memory.
S Marquise Blair
Blair had a nice play where he stepped in front of a pass that he tipped, controlled, and ran back for a pick-six.
WR Jaron Brown
Brown looks like a competent receiver. He made good plays, moved well, and caught the ball reliably. Wilson looks comfortable and confident throwing to him, including at least one back-shoulder timing pattern.
RB J.D. McKissic
McKissic looks like the leading candidate for the third-down back. He was speedy and caught a number of passes out of the backfield.
CB Shaquill Griffin
Griffin had a nice practice with at least two pass breakups. He has grown his dreads longer and looks a little like his mentor Richard Sherman.
DT Bryan Mone
Mone is a huge man at nearly 370 pounds, but he moves well and charges after the ball. I’d bet the coaches have noticed. He will be one to watch in the games given the defensive tackle issues the team is facing.
Join us for Real Hawk Talk Live
We will be talking about my first impressions and early training camp news on the show tonight. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcNk4sXH9QE