RENTON Jimmy Graham took a few steps into the end zone before using his forearm to slam Jordan Simone to the ground.
Simone, a second-year reserve safety from Skyline High School outside Seattle fighting to stay on the roster, is about eight inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter than Graham, the Seahawks’ $40 million tight end. After getting flattened, Simone just shook his head from the turf outside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center as he motioned to a nearby official for a flag to be thrown.
“That’s three strikes for Jimmy,” Simone said later Wednesday, after the ninth practice of Seahawks training camp. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen now, but I told him three strikes and he’s out.”
A spectacular catch on a goal-line fade was strike one. Vigorously spiking the ball was strike two.
Seattle signed Simone on May 31 after he participated in rookie minicamp in May. The Seahawks waived Simone on Monday, but the former walk-on at Washington State and then Arizona State knew his return to football would be swift.
When the Seahawks informed him they were waiving him Monday, they told Simone they would re-sign him. The team wasn’t sure when he’d be back, but they wanted Simone to be prepared.
“I live 20 minutes away, so it wasn’t hard for me to stay ready,” he said.
Frustrations aside, Simone said he knows playing against Graham can only help his development as a safety. He said the next tight end he covers will pale in comparison, saying Graham is the best tight end in the NFL.
Even better than Rob Gronkowski?
“Yeah,” Simone said with a chuckle. “Stupid question.”
Luckily, Simone has already in his few months with the Seahawks learned from All-Pro and Pro Bowl players on the defensive side of the ball, primarily safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
Simone thought Thomas and Chancellor were the best safeties in the NFL before joinging the Seahawks. Hours of “religiously” watching their tape cemented his belief.
“It’s not even a question anymore to me,” Simone said. “To be able to have that leader and see how they do things every day, it’s great for me to see because there’s a standard. The standard is hard. It’s hard to get to. You gotta keep that every day, because that’s what those guys do.”
Simone stood beside Thomas on the sideline during 7-on-7 drills Wednesday. He primarily played free safety during the drills but also played man coverage on tight ends Luke Willson and Graham.
Simone’s investment and energy were evident even when he wasn’t participating. Rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin returned an interception for a touchdown toward the end of practice. Simone ran down the sidelines behind Griffin as he celebrated.
“I’m a local kid, and I’m extremely happy and blessed to be out here,” Simone said. “If they needed to release somebody and bring them back, I’m the guy that can take it.
“I battle through hard times, I think, as good as anybody.”
EXTRA POINTS: Simone is filling one of two roster spots the team opened Tuesday when it waived fullback Kyle Coleman and waived-injured offensive lineman Robert Myers. ... The Seahawks filled the other one by signing 2016 undrafted free agent Greg Milhouse, a defensive tackle. Milhouse came out of Campbell University in 2016. He spent training camp last summer with the New York Giants, then some time in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.