Sporting shoulder pads for the first time since last January, the Seahawks held their fifth opening training camp practice on Tuesday. As has been the theme throughout camp, the defense once again held the advantage, allowing only two touchdowns all afternoon and being aided by a pair of missed field goals by Jason Myers.
What all went down at the VMAC? Here are five quick observations from Tuesday's first padded session:
1. All the way back from his ACL injury, Rashaad Penny ran with speed and power in another impressive practice.
During the first four open practice sessions, a leaner 223-pound Penny looked explosive and busted several big runs. But until he ran against a defense that wasn't playing two-hand touch, it remained unclear whether or not he was fully recovered from ACL surgery and a second minor procedure on the same knee. Those questions were answered emphatically on Tuesday, however.
From the outset as Seattle went into its team session, Penny ran behind his pads, breaking through several arm tackles and even lowering the boom on defenders a couple of times. Most notably, after picking up 15 yards on a quick pitch to the right, he knocked cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon onto his backside before getting pushed out of bounds, drawing cheers from the crowd. Only a few plays later, he made a decisive cut on an inside zone and finished a 20-yard run with authority.
Penny also stood out in the passing game, using his quickness and elusiveness to create yardage after the catch. On one specific play, Russell Wilson was forced to step up in the pocket thanks to an effective bull rush by Aldon Smith and promptly dumped the ball off to the back, who made a linebacker whiff in space and picked up 10 yards before being wrapped up.
2. Receiving extensive snaps at both tackle spots, Stone Forsythe has mixed results in his first NFL test.
With Duane Brown still not practicing and Jamarco Jones sidelined after suffering a minor knee injury on Monday, the Seahawks threw their sixth-round pick Forsythe into the fire as he saw a handful of reps at both tackle spots. He also was indoctrinated to the NFL with his first set of one-on-ones going up against Seattle's edge rushers, including Aldon Smith and Darrell Taylor.
During the team period, Forsythe held up pretty well in his first padded practice, only allowing two notable pressures going up against Smith and Kerry Hyder. Otherwise, he seemed to keep rushers at bay. He also showed off his athleticism by getting outside and making a block on a quick swing pass to Alex Collins.
In one-on-ones, Forsythe's 6-foot-8 frame created some expected leverage issues for him. On one rep against Smith, he appeared to stone wall the veteran's bull rush initially. But Smith got underneath his pads, allowing him to standup the rookie and then easily drive him back into the pocket. Moments later, his used his length to his advantage to win a rep against Taylor, who slipped as he tried to turn the corner, only for the second-year defender to get revenge winning on a bull rush on the next rep.
Among other standouts in one-on-ones, guard Damien Lewis turned in several quality reps, including shutting down Rasheem Green on back-to-back snaps. Defensively, defensive tackle Al Woods won a matchup against center Kyle Fuller with a nasty swim move and Lattimore put Brad Lundblade on spin cycle to quickly find his way into the backfield.
3. Cade Johnson continues to be a bright spot with the offense struggling to put points on the board.
Continuing a week-long trend, the Seahawks struggled to find the end zone in Tuesday's practice, scoring only two touchdowns on the afternoon. Russell Wilson found Cody Thompson for a score in the red zone period and Johnson also put six on the board, marking the second touchdown in as many days for the surging rookie.
The crafty undrafted signee out of South Dakota State only made a few catches in the first three practices, but he seems to be finding his footing with the second-team offense. After scoring on a quick out into the flats on Monday, he used a quality release to spring open on a dig route in the end zone and Geno Smith hit him in stride for the score. He would later add another 15-yard reception on an out route, turning up the sidelines for extra yardage.
With D'Wayne Eskridge still out, as long as Johnson keeps maximizing his opportunities, the Seahawks may want to see what he can do with a few reps rotating in with the first team. He appears to be squarely in the mix for one of the final roster spots at the position with a mock scrimmage coming up on Saturday.
4. Winning often up front, it was a great day for Seattle's interior run stuffers making plays in the backfield.
Much like the offensive line, it's been difficult to truly assess Seattle's defensive front without pads. But with full contact returning in trenches, several big bodies in the middle brought havoc against the run during Tuesday's practice.
Once the Seahawks went into their first team scrimmage period, second-year defender Cedrick Lattimore jump-started the festivities showing off his basketball quickness. Making his first notable play of camp, the former Iowa standout sprung into the backfield off the snap and after quarterback Geno Smith tripped up amid a handoff to Alex Collins, he stood up the back in his tracks for a four-yard loss.
Later in a matchup between the first team offense and first team defense, Poona Ford made his presence felt. With the edge contained, Chris Carson attempted to cut back, but No. 97 was waiting for him and tripped the back up as he tried to bounce further outside for a short loss. Minutes later, Bryan Mone got into the act with a tackle for loss of his own, overpowering center Kyle Fuller to feast on DeeJay Dallas.
5. After being a revelation in 2020, D.J. Reed belongs in the discussion as one of Seattle's best defenders heading into a new season.
Opening camp atop the depth chart, Reed only helped his cause for holding onto that spot in Tuesday's practice. During the team's one-on-one period pitting receivers against corners, the feisty 5-foot-9 Reed went up against 6-foot-3 DK Metcalf, playing physically against the much bigger receiver at the line of scrimmage. Setting the tone of the snap, he stayed right on Metcalf's hip and Wilson's pass was slightly underthrown, allowing the defender to turn and pick off the pass.
After Seattle transitioned into its team period, Reed continued to be disruptive in the secondary, generating a trio of pass deflections. One of them came in the end zone on a deep ball by Wilson as he reached up and got a piece of the football before it could get to the intended receiver. He also was involved in several run stops before a quick whistle was blown as is customary during a practice.
It's only the second week of training camp and coach Pete Carroll will continue pushing the competition card at cornerback throughout the month of August. But while anything could happen between now and Week 1, it would be a stunner if Reed wasn't starting on the right side against the Colts in Indianapolis.
Injury Notes: Along with Jones being held out after having his leg rolled up on during Monday's practice, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and tight end Gerald Everett did not participate. It remains unknown whether the absences were injury related or veteran days off. Ethan Pocic participated in team drills for a second straight day, though he worked with the second team behind Fuller. Linebacker Bobby Wagner (personal reasons) missed a second straight practice, while rookie linebacker Jon Rhattigan didn't participate for undisclosed reasons.