Seahawks rookie Tre Flowers is simultaneously learning a new position and raising a 19-month-old daughter, Bailee. And, even without a whole lot of sleep, he's starting to excel.
Bailee Flowers stared at the screen, searching for her father. She pointed her little finger at the “Monday Night Football” game and said, “Da-da,” but “da-da” wasn’t there.
It was Sept. 17, 2018, and “Da-da” — Seahawks rookie cornerback Tre Flowers — was not at work.
“She thought I was on the TV, but I’m right in front of her,” said a laughing Flowers, who missed the Seahawks’ loss to the Chicago Bears with a hamstring injury. “So she’s starting to understand it, man. It’s just a great feeling.”
Nineteen-month-old Bailee Flowers is starting to understand that her da-da is a professional football player. He’s a 6-foot-3, 203-pound rookie cornerback for the 3-3 Seahawks, an intriguing young talent in an intriguing young defense.
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The 23-year-old Flowers has started the other five games Seattle has played this season and will likely start a sixth when the Seahawks play Detroit this Sunday.
For reasons both good and bad, the converted college safety hasn’t been hard to spot.
Take his first career start in the season-opening loss at Denver, for example. In the first game of his life at the cornerback position, Flowers was rudely eviscerated by veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who posted 10 catches (on 11 targets) for 135 yards and a 43-yard score.
The concern, for coach Pete Carroll, was that Flowers would be crushed by his disappointing debut.
“The risks are, anytime you start a young guy early, that it doesn’t go well and they have negative experiences and it weighs on them more heavily than an experienced guy might,” Carroll said earlier this month. “Fortunately, you hope to get through some games and he gets going and all. He’s through that now. He’s really on his way to being a real legit starter and trying to solidify himself in that way.”
Fortunately for the Seahawks, Flowers didn’t let a painful first impression spoil an otherwise impressive rookie season.
Maybe that’s because, at this point, all the noise and negativity is nothing new.
“I went to Oklahoma State,” Flowers said. “That’s an offensive school. I’m a defensive guy. I’m in the Big 12. If you miss a tackle, it’s all over.
“I always laugh at it. There’s critics and everything. My friends search my name on Twitter. I don’t do it anymore. I’m done with that. My friends search my name and they put it in the group message. I read it but I don’t care about it. It just motivates me to work harder.”
In recent weeks, those Twitter searches have almost certainly produced more positive results. Flowers has had a hand in at least three Seahawks turnovers this season, tipping passes that were subsequently intercepted against the Cowboys and Rams and stripping Cardinals running back David Johnson in a win at Arizona on Sept. 30.
In all, Flowers has produced 27 tackles and a forced fumble in five games, solidifying himself as the Seahawks’ starter opposite second-year standout Shaquill Griffin. The Seattle secondary — which features three first- or second-year starters along with veteran safety Bradley McDougald — surprisingly ranks third in the NFL in both passing defense (206 yards per game) and opponent passer rating (79.9).
The Legion of Boom may be gone, but these Seahawks have something to build on.
“It feels good,” Griffin said. “You’ve got young guys like (Flowers) that’s hungry for it. It makes it easier on me to understand that I can count on someone like that. The main thing you want to do in your defense is trust everybody, and I can definitely trust him.”
Added Carroll: “He’s just getting going, but he’s doing terrific. To be expressing his input in the games by making turnovers, shoot — you can’t do anything better in my book. Hopefully, he’ll start getting some picks and add that to it and really add to the club’s effort. He’s doing great stuff and I’m really excited about what he’s doing right now.”
Still, Flowers acknowledges that he’s far from a finished product. The Converse, Texas, native — who played only safety both in high school and at Oklahoma State, outside of a few practices — said he expects “ups and downs. That’s how it’s going to be every game this year.”
The same can be expected on Sunday, when the Seahawks travel to meet the suddenly explosive Lions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for 1,602 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, and two Lions wide receivers — Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay — tout 16 combined catches of 20 yards or more.
When Flowers shows up at work, he’ll bring no shortage of motivation.
“Da da” will be starting … and Bailee will be watching.
“I really don’t count sleep,” Flowers said with an appropriately sleepy grin, when asked about the challenge of raising a baby girl while simultaneously learning a new position.
“It’s a blessing, to have my daughter up here. I want her to see what I didn’t see as a kid. That’s what motivates me to get up in the morning, no matter how many hours of sleep I get. It keeps me going.”