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Seahawks Training Camp Observations: DK Metcalf, Mike Jackson Engage in Fun Duel

For a third straight day, the Seattle Seahawks' electric receiving corps generated multiple long touchdown receptions, but the defense got even to an extent in Friday's latest training camp session thanks to the efforts of Mike Jackson and a pair of returning second-year defenders.

Partaking in one of the most competitive non-contact training camp practices in recent memory, the Seattle Seahawks third session featured a plethora of big plays on offense and defense, including touchdown grabs by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for a second straight day.

Detailing all the sights and sounds from Friday's practice at the VMAC, here are five noteworthy observations, including the much-anticipated debut of rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon:

1. Metcalf and Mike Jackson steal the show with a back-and-forth affair on the outside during red zone and drive periods.

Even without pads on and contact limitations per NFL rules, battles on the outside offered plenty of excitement for fans in attendance, particularly with Metcalf and Jackson engaging in several fun one-on-one reps throughout a competitive matchup featuring strength against strength.

When Seattle broke into situational red zone plays inside the 20-yard line, Geno Smith immediately tested Jackson with Metcalf running a fade route, only for the veteran corner to stick to his hip like super glue and leading to an overthrow in the back of the end zone. On the very next play, the quarterback challenged him again on a slant route and Jackson slipped his hand in front for a pass breakup, turning to the crowd and letting out a celebratory howl.

But while Jackson would later deny Metcalf again on a red zone fade by jarring the ball loose as they went to the ground, the receiver won several of his own snaps. On one occasion, he got a few steps on the corner, leading to Jackson grabbing his long sleeves and drawing a well-earned defensive pass interference penalty to avoid giving up a touchdown. Later in the practice, he created quick separation on a post route and Smith delivered a bullet downfield for a 40-yard scoring strike to the delight of 12s watching from the berm.

2. Letting it fly, Smith stays dialed in with several long touchdown passes during the team scrimmage portion.

Without having to worry about a quarterback competition this time around, Smith has come out firing on all cylinders in the early stages of camp and looks to be playing with even more confidence running Shane Waldron's offense than he did a year ago. After throwing touchdowns to Metcalf and Lockett on Thursday, he connected with both players again in Friday's session, displaying impressive arm strength and touch on both throws downfield.

Early in the drive period, Smith feathered a tightly-contested throw to Lockett on a post route. Slipping the ball just past the outstretched hands of cornerback Tre Brown, who pulled up to avoid interference, he led the receiver perfectly on a 45-yard scoring toss. Then, only a few plays later after Jackson managed to punch the ball out of Metcalf's hands in the back corner of the end zone, the receiver got revenge as Smith delivered a bullet downfield and hit him in stride for an easy six points.

Picking up where he left off a year ago, albeit in heavily restricted practices to this point, Smith looks to be in midseason form with his top two targets and has also been accurate and effective in the short-to-intermediate game. For anyone skeptical of his ability to perform as he did in a breakout year, early returns suggest he won't have any problem doing so.

3. Vi Jones, Joey Blount turn in spectacular highlights to headline a turnover-heavy afternoon for the defense.

While Smith, Metcalf, and Lockett set off fireworks once again, Seattle's defensive units turned the tables on several plays on Friday with a pair of second-year players leading the way with highlight-reel turnovers.

In the opening team drill segment, Drew Lock rolled out to his left and after briefly scanning the field, he tried to squeeze a throw in to undrafted rookie tight end Griffin Hebert, but the throw sailed on him. With Hebert valiantly trying to catch the pass, the ball deflected off his fingertips and Jones came rocketing in from the weakside inside linebacker spot to gather a fantastic interception while managing to get both feet down inbounds along the sideline, drawing a crowd of teammates to mob him in celebration.

Moments later in the red zone situational drill, Hebert once again was victimized by an opportunistic Seahawks defense. This time catching a short pass from Lock, he turned upfield looking for extra yardage, only for Blount to play the role of robber and strip the ball away from him. After initially juggling the fumble, the second-year safety gathered the ball and took off for the races with nothing but green in front of him for a 70-plus yard touchdown.

Capping off the defensive theatrics, third-string quarterback Holton Ahlers underthrew a seam route near the goal line and former Montana linebacker Patrick O'Connell hauled in a gift-wrapped interception, showing off his athleticism picking up nearly 20 yards after the pick before being forced out of bounds. Feeding off the crowd, he sprinted towards the berm with a handful of teammates to soak up his first big moment with the 12s.

4. Seizing a bigger role at defensive tackle as well as nose tackle, Myles Adams quietly continues to do damage as an interior rusher.

As will be the case until Seattle busts out shoulder pads and shells later in camp, offensive and defensive line performance must be taken at face value. But over the first three days, few players have been more impressive so far than Adams, who is coming off a stellar finish to the 2022 season and looks primed to see a substantial uptick in playing time as one of the few holdovers on a retooled defensive line.

After twisting tackle Jake Curhan into a pretzel on a pair of athletic rushes on Thursday, Adams once again stood out during Seattle's scrimmage period on Friday. In the initial situational period, he collapsed the pocket while reduced inside as a nose tackle, leading to a quick whistle on a would-be sack of Smith. Following a quiet red zone period, he struck again, this time getting quick penetration slanting inside on Lock and forcing another rapid whistle.

Adams will have to demonstrate such pass rushing prowess when the pads come on early next week and during preseason games. After gradually improving each of the past three years, however, he should be circled as a potential breakout candidate who could play a bigger role than even anticipated in the trenches.

5. Though his practice debut was a quiet one, fans give Witherspoon a warm welcome in his first taste of NFL training camp.

Ending his two-day holdout, Witherspoon finally signed his rookie contract hours before Friday's practice and as he exited the tunnel at the VMAC for his first camp practice, fans rained cheers down on him and he enjoyed an embrace with Blitz, the team's mascot. The top-five pick out of Illinois then spent time picking linebacker Bobby Wagner's brain during special teams time and moved well during individual drills, looking thrilled to be back in action.

During the scrimmage period, Witherspoon played the majority of his reps with the second-team defense at a boundary position behind Jackson and Brown and didn't appear to play any snaps inside in the slot. For fans hoping to see him make a play in his first official practice, he wasn't targeted at all by Smith or Lock in limited reps, as the Seahawks appear to be easing him back in after having some limitations in OTAs and minicamp coming back from a hamstring injury.

With that said, Witherspoon showed his rare skills breaking on the ball in pursuit, positioning himself to make several tackles before letting up. Eyes will continue to be on him in coming days as Seattle increases his workload and eventually when the pads come out, he will be looking to show off his physicality and toughness as he competes against Jackson for starting snaps.


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