For a guest in his or her first time at a Seahawks practice—or a rookie in his first Seattle training camp—Pete Carroll sure knows how to put on a show.
The most obvious example of that each day in camp is the DJ the Seahawks’ 67-year-old coach has stationed under a team-logo canopy just beyond the corner of the end zone on the main practice field.
Each practice a guy, usually DJ Supa Sam, is spinning and cutting turntables and on his keyboard blaring (mostly) rap, R&B, some old-school and even occasional rock through giant speakers that boom along the sideline.
The players love it. Defensive end Branden Jackson is one of the more comical dancers during drills.
Carroll was an even more entertaining and complete host on Monday.
The 13th day of camp was USAA’s “Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp.” About 100 active- and reserve-duty members of the United States Coast Guard’s Base Seattle plus a Lt. Col Mark Davis and a handful of officers and non-commissioned officers from his U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion-Seattle lined the sideline and end zone of the field as the Seahawks practiced in helmets and shoulder pads for almost two hours.
Carroll made sure the men and women of the Coast Guard, in particular, got involved in practice.
On its final scrimmage play, undrafted rookie wide receiver Jazz Ferguson continued his increasingly legitimate push to make the regular-season roster. The hulking, 6-foot-5 Ferguson, bigger even than much-hyped fellow rookie receiver DK Metcalf, leaped for a deep pass from Paxton Lynch along the sideline. Directly in front of the dark-blue line of Coast Guard personnel, maybe 10 yards from them, Ferguson battled the tight coverage of starting cornerback Tre Flowers. They both leaped for the ball.
Ferguson basically manhandled the shorter (by two inches), slighter (by a lot) Flowers for the catch as both fell to the sideline boundary. Ferguson fell into the end zone. Flowers bounced off of Ferguson away from the goal line.
The covering official (the Seahawks hire college and high-school officials from the area to officiate practices each day) threw a penalty flag as the ball arrived. He signaled offensive pass interference on Ferguson.
The offensive players howled. Some assistant coaches feigned indignation and threw their play cards.
Amid the ruckus, Carroll smiled.
The coach then ran 40-plus yards to the sideline, to the site of the play. Facing the Coast Guard men and women, Carroll asked them whether the play should be a touchdown or a penalty on Ferguson.
Unanimously, the guests signaled and yelled “touchdown! TD!”
Who says the Coast Guard is for defense?
Carroll shrugged and said, “OK, touchdown”—and signaled so. Official overruled. By the military.
The Coast Guarders roared. And Jason Myers kicked the subsequent point after touchdown to end the practice.
Minutes later Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson, Chris Carson—pretty much every Seahawk on the 90-man preseason roster, including injured guys not practicing—formed a line from the field facing Lake Washington. The Seahawks went down that line, about 70 yards worth of military personnel in single file along the sideline, and thanked each of them for their service to the nation with handshakes and high-fives. They posed for selfies, signed T-shirts and footballs and placards.
When one enlisted Coast Guardsman walked up and saw Wagner posing for a photo with a colleague, he exclaimed, “Oh, my God! It’s B-Wags!”
“It’s a good day today. Military appreciation day,” Wilson said.
“That was pretty cool.”
Carroll could have simply waved at or come over to the Coast Guardsmen and women following practice. They would have appreciated had he merely said hi.
But Carroll, always energetic and engaging in the moment, did more. He made sure he got them involved.
Sure, other NFL coaches may have done the same thing, allowed the Coast Guard to rule the final play a touchdown.
Then again, how many other NFL coaches have Rainn Wilson from “The Office” holding for and then kicking field goals during practice?
What else I saw during the 13th practice of training camp Monday:
DK METCALF’S LATEST SKILL BUILD: The latest addition to the rookie wide receiver’s expanding workload: working with running backs coach Chad Morton on extra skills before practice.
Metcalf and top wide receiver Tyler Lockett were with Morton on the far, side field, away from all other Seahawks. They ran change-of-direction drills around four cones spaced in a square not more than a few yards long and wide. They also worked on their balance and ball security by running through the running backs’ “gauntlet,” six, vertical blocking pads arranged in a line in three pairs. A final, single vertical pad swings from a chain hanging from a metal frame at the end of the line.
Later, the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Metcalf and the 6-5, 228-pound Ferguson worked against each other on form blocking. They are two of the larger wide receivers in the NFL right now.
Wilson—Russell, not Rainn—was asked how Metcalf is handling the all the spring and summer hype he’s gotten while on track to be the starting split end and number-two receiver for Seattle in its opening game Sept. 8 against Cincinnati.
“I think he’s been great,” Wilson said. “Being around him, we were around each other in LA for the ESPYs and training down there, we trained at UCLA for a few days (in July), we literally started working out at 5:45 every morning. The guy is focused, you know. There’s nobody out there, the sun has barely come up for three days in a row.
“I don’t think his work ethic and his mentality is ever going to be in question. I think he’s going to be ready to roll and everything else. I think, too, he’s fired up because I think people doubted him and also, he has a little bit of a story. People thought he may not play football or whatever because of his neck (injury in October at Ole Miss) and different things like that.
“Sometimes, the people with stories, they’re the ones that really come up and shine because they have something to overcome.”
FLOWERS’ TOUGH DAY: Flowers’ practice ended getting thrown down by Ferguson on the Coast Guard’s favorite play..
It began with Flowers getting hurt jumping a slant route by wide receiver David Moore in position drills. He left the drill holding his right arm, after appearing to jam it or perhaps bang a nerve in his neck. A trainer was with him for a few minutes as he gripped his right hand into a fist and opened it, as if trying to regain feeling in the arm.
Flowers missed the first red-zone scrimmage of the day; Neiko Thorpe played right cornerback for him. Flowers returned for the 11-on-11 scrimmage in the middle of the field.
Jeremy Boykins also got some time at right cornerback. Moore made a leaping, twisting touchdown catch over Boykins on a pass by Wilson at the goal line.
PASS-RUSH DRILL: Barkevious Mingo had two sacks past tackle Jamarco Jones in the mock game two Saturdays ago. He had two hits on the quarterback Thursday night in the preseason opener against Denver.
But in training-camp practices Mingo, the 2018 strongside linebacker Seattle is turning back into a hand-on-the-ground defensive end this season, has rarely won a one-on-one drill.
Monday, Mingo tried a spin move on left tackle Duane Brown. The 12th-year veteran who has seen 10,001 swim moves in his career calmly moved his feet and pushed Mingo back to the line of scrimmage. Then Mingo tried to speed around Jones. The second-year, backup left tackle stuffed Mingo at the point of attack.
Later in the drill, Mingo went at Brown again. Again, Mingo barely cross the line before Brown repelled him.
The Seahawks need Mingo to be a speedy edge rusher, to compensate for trading Frank Clark and for top offseason acquisition Ziggy Ansah still coming back from shoulder surgery with no first-practice date in sight.
They hope practices prove more difficult for Mingo than the games.
NICKEL MAN: Experience, skill and logic say Seattle will go in base defense with three linebackers more this season. They have Super Bowl starters in Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks all returning at linebacker and with new contracts.
The Seahawks have been in nickel with five defensive backs and two linebackers, usually Wagner and Wright, more than 70 percent of the time the last few years. But that was when they had effective nickel back Justin Coleman.
Coleman left in free agency to Detroit in March for $9 million per year. So Seattle’s defense needs a new fifth DB.
Akeem King has been the first one for most of the spring and summer practices. But Kalan Reed is making a push for that job. Rookie fourth-round pick Ugo Amadi remains a backup nickel. DeShawn Shead can play nickel, too. Of course, he can play any position in the secondary, and has for Seattle.
Seventh-year veteran Jamar Taylor has had one the most quietly successful camps on the team. He has made plays just about every day, breaking up and intercepting passes. Taylor, who turns 29 next month, started three games last season for Arizona and 15 for Cleveland in 2017.
But the Seahawks seem intent on giving the younger King, Reed and Amadi the reps at nickel. At least for now.
“It’s ongoing,” Carroll said of the competition there. “Kalan Reed did a nice job in the (first preseason) game. Ugo Amadi did a nice job in the game, too, in the plays that he had. And we know that Jamar Taylor and Akeem King can play there. So, we’ve got four guys that it’s kind of hard to get their reps right, right now.
“Kalan Reed has done a really nice overall job right now, pass coverage-wise. He’s done all that stuff well enough that he can hold his spot going into the week. But it’s up for grabs, and those guys will be rotating evenly throughout.”
DID NOT PRACTICE: No one new among the injured players who did not practice: Wagner, Shaquem Griffin, Jacob Hollister, Phil Haynes, Amara Darboh, C.J. Prosise, Jalen Harvey, George Fant, Ed Dickson, Mike Iupati, Marcelias Sutton, Travis Homer, J.D. McKissic.
What was new: Fant did not have a walking boot over his sprained ankle, as he had on Sunday.