Heated Seahawks camp day 7: Safeties hammer guys. DeeJay Dallas responds; QBs status quo

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·7 min read
Pete Caster/pcaster@thenewstribune.com
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Since no one is beating out anyone in the Geno Smith-Drew Lock quarterback competition — it still hasn’t truly started yet — the defense is deciding to beat up guys.

Day seven of Seahawks training camp Thursday brought out the defense’s ire on the most physical and intense practice of the summer.

Veteran Josh Jones, a former starter for Jacksonville, got a second day in a row as the third safety with Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams on the field with him and Ryan Neal injured. Josh twice pounded ball carriers to the ground in what was supposed to be no-tackling scrimmaging. On the second day in pads of camp, Jones lowered a shoulder into Travis Homer at the end of a running play up the sideline. The running back flew back, thudded out of bounds then popped right back up. The defensive players roared. Jones then leveled tight end Tyler Mabry with another shoulder to the chest immediately following a catch of a pass from Lock.

Defensive teammates made shrieking ambulance-like sounds about that.

The offense struck back. DeeJay Dallas was finishing a touchdown run when reserve safety Bubba Bolden, an undrafted rookie from Dallas’ University of Miami, tried to hit Dallas with a shoulder in the middle of the end zone. Dallas impressively flicked him back with one arm extended. As Bolden repelled back and into the grass, Dallas flipped the ball flamboyantly over his head, and over Bolden.

A couple plays later Bolden smacked his shoulder into Homer, yet another former Miami Hurricane, after a catch. As Bolden stood over Homer, Dallas sprinted from the sideline and slammed into Bolden. A tussle of offensive and defensive players massed around Dallas and Bolden ensued.

It all ended with Dallas getting escorted by a team staffer into the facility, ejected from the short remainder of the heated practice.

Coach Pete Carroll was still away in quarantine after testing positive Sunday for COVID-19; he is expected back when the team returns from a players day off to practice Friday. So associate head coach Carl Smith and other assistants apparently made the call to send Dallas away from the rest of the practice.

At one point, coaches briefly removed Uchenna Nwosu from a red-zone scrimmage. That was after the new starting outside linebacker got into it with an offensive lineman after a play. Rookie second-round draft choice Boye Mafe replaced Nwosu for a few plays.

Nwosu admitted there was intent behind Thursday’s displays.

“Definitely,” the fifth-year veteran signed this spring from the Los Angeles Chargers said. “That was the point of emphasis coming in. The offense won (Wednesday) so we feel like (Thursday), defensively, we had to get a little revenge.

“We came out here to be physical today.”

Better day from Smith, Lock

After a string of days when Smith, in particular, and Lock were making late, inaccurate throws and subpar decisions, the quarterbacks had a better practice Thursday.

Smith had his best throw of camp down the left sideline to DK Metcalf. It had to be perfect because rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen was shoulder-to-shoulder with Metcalf. The ball was high and outside, away from the 6-foot-4 Woolen where only the 6-4 Metcalf could catch it. He did, with his feet landing just inside the boundary. The offensive players were as loud as they’ve been all week after that play.

Smith ended the practice with a rarity in this camp so far: three consecutive completions. He fired line-drive passes onto the chest of Tyler Lockett twice in two snaps. Then he put a ball high over the middle between defenders to the leaping Metcalf to catch.

Smith started the 11-on-11 scrimmaging with sharp dart on a play-action pass deep over the middle to Lockett in front of the safeties. On the next play Lock, also off play action, threw deep right to rookie wide receiver Bo Melton, who raced free past late safety Scott Nelson for huge gain on a rainbow throw onto his hands.

Lock zinged two straight precise throws, onto the hands of Marquise Goodwin in front of cornerback Michael Jackson and in stride to Dallas on a seam route between Nelson and linebacker Nick Bellore for a pretty touchdown.

Lock had his first interception of camp, though it may not have been his fault. Goodwin raced with Jackson down the route sideline on what appeared to be a go route. Goodwin veered his route inside. Lock threw the ball outside, over the sideline edge as most go routes are planned to go. Jackson was the only one in position to catch the ball, which he did over his shoulder.

Smith would have been sacked on a play that was allowed to continue. He threw late to the sideline. Rookie cornerback Coby Bryant intercepted that as officials were blowing the play dead as a “sack.”

Metcalf still learning

The one area of the 24-year-old Metcalf’s game he still trails Lockett by plenty is improvisationally breaking off planned routes and making catches off quarterback scrambles.

Smith had one to extend a play Thursday. Lockett immediately noticed and broke his route deep to the goal line, then to the sideline, then back to the middle trying to escape tight coverge. Metcalf just stopped running at the 5-yard line, with his back still to Smith, as if he thought the play was over. He’s very easy to cover while standing still.

Instead of two, Smith had only one choice: throw on the run to Lockett tightly along the sideline. The pass was just wide and incomplete.

Right-tackle roulette

It was Stone Forsythe’s day as the starting right tackle. Jake Curhan had started consecutive days there before Thursday.

Curhan, who started there late last season after now-gone Brandon Shell got hurt, seemed he was gaining an edge in the competition until Thursday. Rookie third-round pick Abe Lucas from Washington State remained the second-team right tackle.

Offensive line coach Andy Dickerson was asked where the right-tackle situation is at this point.

“Outside the right guard,” Dickerson said, adding a fist pump to celebrate his one-liner.

“Abe will get over there and Kyle (Fuller, the backup center) played it two years ago versus the Jets. So just like with everything, we are rolling guys through. We have a plan and a chart like, ‘Who got these reps and who got these reps in pads?’

“So, you see different combinations of players and how everybody is working together. Again, we are just rolling people through to get the different looks and making sure that we are getting different types of blocks, different pressures, and different things to continue the evaluation process.”

Dickerson said he keeps a spreadsheet updated each day with how many snaps each offensive lineman is getting at each position. He is going to rely on that when, inevitably, starters get hurt and depth flexibility becomes key on the line.

“So I got an Excel spreadsheet that tallies the plays and all this,” Dickerson said. “So it’s kind of nerdy.

“But it’s, ‘OK, no, we’ve had (a player) with 35 snaps at left guard and 45...OK, we need to balance it up a little bit.’ So just all that experience and just keep it moving.”