Seattle Seahawks Minicamp Day 2 Takeaways: Turnover Fest Ushers in Early Summer Break

Manufacturing turnovers at all levels of the defense, the Seahawks racked up interceptions in bunches to the delight of coach Mike Macdonald, earning an early summer vacation.
Seahawks linebacker Tyrice Knight walks back to the huddle after a drill during the team's mandatory minicamp at the VMAC.
Seahawks linebacker Tyrice Knight walks back to the huddle after a drill during the team's mandatory minicamp at the VMAC. / Corbin Smith/All Seahawks
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Following a competitive second mandatory minicamp practice highlighted by a bevy of interceptions at the VMAC on Wednesday, summer break will arrive a bit early for the Seattle Seahawks.

Rewarding his players and coaches for their efforts throughout the spring, coach Mike Macdonald wrapped up practice by announcing that the Seahawks would skip their last scheduled practice, allowing everyone to take an extra day to recharge before training camp opens in late July.

"Couldn't be happier with the effort," Macdonald told reporters after practice concluded. "That's what I was just telling them. The effort, the intent, the energy, the attitude, all of the things we're asking them to do, they responded every day and I'm just really excited about where we're at. We've been going at it - we had the extra week - so I felt like it was an opportunity to get out of here healthy and have a great offseason."

What went down in Seattle's final offseason practice? Here are four key takeaways from the VMAC:

1. Even with rule restrictions, an opportunistic defense cashed in again with a bunch of turnovers.

With the nasty winds subsiding and weather far more suitable on Wednesday, conditions should have set up Geno Smith and Sam Howell for big days throwing the football. However, Rayshawn Jenkins and company had other plans, continuing to turn the football over with high frequency during 11-on-11 scrimmage drills.

On the very first play from scrimmage coming out of a walkthrough period, Smith tried to connect with Jaxon Smith-Njigba on an out route, but linebacker Patrick O'Connell got a hand on the football and caused the pass to pop up into the air. Running underneath the deflection, Jenkins secured the interception, making it a quick possession for the first-team offense.

Moments later, Smith tried to connect with DK Metcalf on a go route, but the quarterback looked to be expecting the receiver to hug the sideline, only for Metcalf to break back inside. With the cornerback running the correct route instead, Riq Woolen picked off the pass in the end zone to abruptly end another drive.

Later in the practice, after getting picked by Artie Burns in the middle of the field earlier, Howell threw interceptions on back-to-back attempts, starting with Mike Jackson jumping a screen for a pick six. On the ensuing snap, the third-year quarterback got picked again with linebacker Tyrice Knight dropping back into coverage on a throw over the middle with no open receivers in the zip code.

2. Despite leaving early, Smith-Njigba put a cherry on top of an outstanding program with more visits to the end zone.

Noticeably bigger and stronger than his rookie season, Smith-Njigba may have been Seattle's MVP of the offseason program, including catching seven touchdowns in an OTA practice last month. While he didn't quite equal that number on Wednesday, he still had a fantastic afternoon before leaving the field with a shoulder injury for precautionary reasons.

After the first-team offense marched inside the 10-yard line, Smith-Njigba found himself matched up against safety Julian Love in the slot and used his elite quickness to create instant separation on an out route. Perfectly in sync timing-wise with his young receiver, Smith fired a dart outside only a few feet off the ground, preventing Love from being able to extend an arm out for a breakup attempt and finishing off the series with six points.

Moments later, Smith-Njigba continued to light it up in 7-on-7 drills, scoring a pair of touchdowns on connections with Smith, including snagging one over the middle between two safeties. In addition, fellow second-year receiver Jake Bobo also got into the act with a pair of touchdowns of his own, as it was a great day for sophomore wideouts to cap off the spring.

3. Not surprisingly, offensive line rotations stay much the same heading towards training camp.

For most of OTAs and the first day of minicamp, the Seahawks have maintained continuity on the offensive line, rolling with Charles Cross and George Fant at tackle, Laken Tomlinson and McClendon Curtis at guard, and Olu Oluwatimi at center. In what ended up being the last practice of the spring, that lineup largely stayed the same despite guard Anthony Bradford returning to action from an ankle sprain, with Fant sitting out for workload management reasons as the only change.

Minus Fant, second-year tackle Raiqwon O'Neal took all of Seattle's first-team reps at right tackle alongside Curtis, as Bradford was limited to just individual and position drills on Wednesday. With O'Neal sliding up with the starters, Garrett Greenfield saw more action at left tackle and Mike Jerrell saw the majority of the snaps on the right side, while Tremayne Anchrum, Nick Harris, and rookie Christian Haynes stayed in their spots at left guard, center, and right guard respectively.

Once training camp arrives, assuming right tackle Abraham Lucas can return to practice after offseason knee surgery, the Seahawks may have only one starting spot truly up for grabs. But right guard could be one hell of a competition with as many as three viable contenders battling to win the job, including Curtis, who has capitalized on Bradford's injury and now looks to be a legitimate candidate to push for a starting role.

4. Led by Devon Witherspoon's infectious energy, Seattle's cornerback group continues to flex its muscles.

As Macdonald has reiterated throughout the offseason program, offseason practice rules are catered to the offense having success, calling them "passing camps" by nature. But don't tell Witherspoon, who made sure to tell his coach to remind media members who won the day on Wednesday by crashing in on his post-practice press conference.

"Just tell 'em we got the offense's ass today!" Witherspoon said with a mischievous smile on his face.

Aside from the aforementioned interceptions, Witherspoon's request couldn't have been more spot on. While Smith threw a few touchdowns to Smith-Njigba and Bobo, the defense dominated throughout team sessions for a second straight day largely on the backs of their talented, deep cornerback group highlighted by Witherspoon, whose constant chirping seemed to be agitating receivers on the other side while firing up his teammates.

While Witherspoon didn't have an interception himself, he nearly made the most remarkable play of the afternoon, peeling off his receiver in the end zone to break up a deep ball to Metcalf before diving and narrowly missing on getting both of his feet down inbounds for what would have been a highlight reel worthy pick. The rest of the supporting cast more than made up for that close miss, however, starting with Woolen's end zone pick against Smith early in team drills.

From there, Burns kept the party rolling with a diving interception over the middle on a crossing route and added another pass breakup for good measure. Two plays later, Jackson read screen before Howell even threw the ball, jumping the pass with nothing but green in front of him for what would have been a defensive touchdown. Witherspoon and company sprinted from the sidelines to celebrate with him in the end zone.

Away from the usual suspects, the Seahawks also received contributions from their rookie class in the secondary for a second straight day. After teammate D.J. James intercepted Howell on Tuesday, Nehemiah Pritchett got into the act with a sweet deflection in the red zone to deny Dareke Young a touchdown along the goal line, showing off the depth the team has amassed at the position.


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Corbin K. Smith

CORBIN K. SMITH

Graduating from Manchester College in 2012, Smith began his professional career as a high school Economics teacher in Indianapolis and launched his own NFL website covering the Seahawks as a hobby. After teaching and coaching high school football for five years, he transitioned to a full-time sports reporter in 2017, writing for USA Today's Seahawks Wire while continuing to produce the Legion of 12 podcast. He joined the Arena Group in August 2018 and also currently hosts the daily Locked On Seahawks podcast with Rob Rang and Nick Lee. Away from his coverage of the Seahawks and the NFL, Smith dabbles in standup comedy, is a heavy metal enthusiast and previously performed as lead vocalist for a metal band, and enjoys distance running and weight lifting. A habitual commuter, he resides with his wife Natalia in Colorado and spends extensive time reporting from his second residence in the Pacific Northwest.