DK Metcalf is almost impossible to miss among Seahawks wide receivers.
He’s 6 feet 4 and 229 pounds. The hoodie Metcalf wears under his jersey and pads, even in 80-degree sun, makes him look even bigger.
Still, Russell Wilson is ensuring he absolutely never misses the prized rookie.
Every day, in every drill, Seattle’s franchise quarterback makes a point to time the alternating of his turn among Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch at the same time it becomes Metcalf’s turn outside among the team’s 12 wide receivers in training camp.
“Even after practice, even after drills, I tell him what I saw,” Metcalf said. “And he tells me what he sees out there, just to continue with our chemistry.”
This is no accident. Wilson is trying to get as many reps with Metcalf as possible now, to accelerate their connection. It’s going to come in handy beginning Sept. 8. That’s the day Metcalf has increasingly likely chance to start the opener against Cincinnati as Seattle’s “X,” split end opposite the tight end on the line of scrimmage.
How impressed does Wilson continue to be with Metcalf?
“You know, I compare DK to Lebron (James),” Wilson said.
“He was talking all this trash,” Wilson said of Metcalf. “And he looks like him, kind of, as big as he is.”
Thursday it was Wilson to Metcalf again—and again. In position drills. In red-zone scrimmaging. In hurry-up offense. In first-and-10s from the middle of the field.
If these were final exams, Wilson and Metcalf would be cramming.
It’s a continuation of the work the second-round draft choice and Wilson put in during the quarterback’s annual hosting of his Seahawks receivers in Southern California. That was during the players’ July off. Metcalf and Wilson played pitch and catch for hours and days on a field at UCLA.
“I mean, obviously, DK Metcalf doesn’t look or get any better in terms of his talent level,” Wilson said. “He’s as smart as it gets, too. He wants to learn.
“I mean, we were getting up at 5:30, working out at UCLA at 5:45, me and him the week before.”
Metcalf called his time in Los Angeles with Wilson last month “a great time.”
“Bonding time, first off,” he said, “and then just spending time with the rest of my teammates, it was good. Good times, even just learning the plays and bonding.
“We worked out for like, an hour and a half. Even after that, we were around each other all the time and got to see different personalities that we don’t get to see on the field.”
Here’s what else I saw, heard and thought on the sixth day of practice in training camp.
The no-pads, helmets-only day included coach Pete Carroll estimating first-round pick L.J. Collier is going to be out a while with a uniquely sprained foot/ankle, and Jarran Reed fighting Ethan Pocic following a play:
MULTIPLE ROLES FOR SHAQUEM GRIFFIN: The coaches want to unleash Griffin more this season as a speed rusher off the edge, less the off-the-ball, read-then-react weakside linebacker he failed at being as a Seahawks rookie last season.
Outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks spent extra time giving Griffin advice in the middle of the defense before a seven-on-seven drill began.
Part of Griffin’s role includes what else he did Thursday: the blocking upback in front of Michael Dickson on the punt team.
There’s some talk out there about whether Griffin is even going to make this team. Expect him to not only make it, but have roles more like the ones in which he starred at the University of Central Florida two seasons ago. Seattle then made him the first one-handed player drafted into the modern NFL.
Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. don’t give up on speed like Griffin’s so easily. Especially when he’s a middle-round draft pick under contract at three more years at next-to-nothing cost.
STARTING DEFENSE: The starting defensive line for the first 11-on-11 scrimmage, with Collier out and Ziggy Ansah (shoulder surgery) still seemingly nowhere near practicing for the first time: Branden Jackson and 2018 third-round pick Rasheem Green at ends; Al Woods and recently signed Earl Mitchell at tackles.
That wouldn’t keep too many opposing offensive coordinators up late on game weeks.
It’s time for Green to show what Carroll and others say has been huge growth from year one to two.
Later, when the defense went nickel and speedier pass rushers for its line, the ends were Jacob Martin and Cassius Marsh. The tackles were Reed and Quinton Jefferson.
The rest of the starting defense: Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker flanked again by K.J. Wright and Kendricks; Shaquill Griffin at left cornerback; Tre Flowers at right cornerback; Bradley McDougald at strong safety and Tedric Thompson with him again at free safety.
Akeem King was the first nickel back. Jamar Taylor got some time at second nickel. Rookie Ugo Amadi, who also has been the second nickel, was the second free safety.
Shalom Luani was the starting strong safety for the last 11-on-11 period.
LOCKETT BRIEFLY DOWN: Tyler Lockett leaped to catch Wilson’s pass in the back corner of the end zone early in the red-zone scrimmage. Lockett was behind Thompson, but Shaquill Griffin came back from his cornerback zone near the goal line. He jumped with and into Lockett and banged him to the ground as the ball went off the receiver’s hands incomplete. Lockett stayed down for about 2 minutes as a trainer, then Wilson bent over him.
Lockett returned to fully participation later in practice. Carroll said his leading returning receiver “got the wind knocked out of him.”
Lockett said after practice he was OK and couldn’t say anything else about it.
BLAIR RETURNS, WITH A BANG: Rookie second-round pick Marquise Blair returned to full participation as the second strong safety. He started camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of a hamstring injury in June.
Blair took the ball from tight end Ed Dickson on a rare off throw by Wilson behind the receiver on a short out route during 11 on 11. Blair, known more as a hard hitter at the University of Utah, tapped the ball twice to himself, grabbed the ball and ran unchallenged to the opposite end zone.
BROWN TAKES A FAMILY DAY: Duane Brown was away taking care of what Carroll said was a family matter. George Fant was the starting left tackle for a day.
SIMEON THOMAS PROGRESSES: Tall, rangy cornerback Simeon Thomas had a fine day. During the red-zone scrimmage the backup to Griffin at left cornerback used his 6-3 frame and 35-inch arms to wall off 6-1 rookie wide receiver Gary Jennings all the way out of the back of the end zone while Wilson was looking to throw to him. With Jennings out of the play, Wilson checked down before the goal line to running back Chris Carson instead. Thomas’ savvy move saved a touchdown.
On the next pass his way, Thomas stayed stride for stride with Amara Darboh into and to the back of the end zone. That forced Lynch to throw underneath, for another Carson catch short of the goal line.
The Seahawks claimed Thomas off waivers last September from Cleveland. He spent most of last season on the practice squad. He was a safety in college at Louisiana-Lafayette and some for the Browns. But, of course, Carroll loves tall cornerbacks.
Flowers, a safety at Oklahoma State, is the current prime example of that.
MYERS’ KICKING DAY: New kicker Jason Myers made all four of his field goals in an interlude between scrimmages, from 28, 33, 38 and 43 yards. He kicked the ball well past the goal post from 58 yards at the end of a drive during a 2-minute drill, but pushed it wide left no good.
Myers, the Pro Bowl selection for the New York Jets last season, has usually made all four or three of four field goals during his daily kicking so far in camp. He is replacing retired Sebastian Janikowski for Seattle this season.
LYNCH’S BEST THROW: Lynch, the former first-round pick and starter in Denver, had his best throw of camp during the 2-minute drill that ended practice. He stepped up in the pocket and lofted a perfectly placed rainbow, 45 yards to the goal line. Wide receiver Malik Turner ran under it, beating Thompson by 3 yards, then reached and grabbed the pass for a touchdown for the second-team offense against the first-team defense. Lynch ran down the field to be one of the first teammates to congratulate Turner.
But then on the next play, Lynch did what he has often in camp. He underthrew his open receiver in the end zone. Luani intercepted that.
MARTIN, SIMMONS GET CHANCES: With Mike Iupati missing his second consecutive practice with what Carroll said is a mildly sprained foot, fifth-year veteran free agent Marcus Martin was the left guard with Wilson and the starting offense for the last drive of practice. Jordan Simmons, the pleasant surprise at fill-in starter for D.J. Fluker at right guard last season after arriving through waivers from Oakland, was the right guard for Fluker that drive.
It and practice ended after backup strong safety Marwin Evans raced back to knock away Wilson’s deep pass to Keenan Reynolds at the goal line.
UP NEXT: The Seahawks’ seventh practice of camp is Friday morning at team headquarters.
Saturday afternoon, the team has its annual mock game complete with full pre-game routines and a seven-man NFL officiating crew. That no-tackles scrimmage is open to the public, at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell.