The Seahawks stopped their mock game at CenturyLink Field on Saturday after about a half-hour of play when veteran defensive end Branden Jackson was knocked out and carted off the field via an ambulance to a hospital.
“Terribly unfortunate,” said coach Pete Carroll.
Carroll said Jackson had movement in his extremities but was left momentarily unconscious after taking what Carroll termed “a knockout punch” when Jackson collided with offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi while battling at the line of scrimmage on a running play by Carlos Hyde.
Jackson was released from the hospital Saturday night and rejoined the team’s training camp. He was at the team facility in Renton Sunday morning with other players going through daily COVID-19 testing. The Seahawks are not practicing Sunday.
The Seahawks were at the end of what was the fourth series of the game when the injury occurred and nearing what was the end of the first half of the mock game.
“He hit heads with Cedric and might have caught him in the chin with his helmet and it was like a knockout punch, is what it was,” Carroll said. “So we took all of the precautions and took care of him, and he had movement and all that kind of stuff. But we still needed to do the right thing and totally take care of him.”
Carroll said the team had gotten enough work in on a day that was designed in large part to reacquaint the team with its regular game-day routine — something it would usually do this time of year with exhibition games — and said he felt it appropriate to end the game at that point out of respect for Jackson.
“He’s one of our all-time guys, favorite guys and everybody wanted to make sure that we could (support) him as much as we possibly (could) to make sure he’s OK,” Carroll said.
Carroll sent the team into the locker room after Jackson was attended to for 10 minutes or so. After what was a 12-minute halftime, the mock game was then called off.
“I didn’t think it was right to try to get everybody cranked back up again and go back out,” Carroll said. “We didn’t need to do that. … We accomplished the things we needed to accomplish coming to the stadium.”
Quarterback Russell Wilson completed 8 of 13 passes in his two series, capping the first with a 10-yard TD pass to DK Metcalf. The offense converted four third downs on the series while going against the number two defense, with new tight end Greg Olsen catching two passes on third downs to keep the drive alive.
Backup QB Geno Smith completed all eight of his passes in two series in leading the number two offense to a touchdown (on a pass to tight end Jacob Hollister) and a 40-yard Jason Myers field goal.
The number one offense was in the midst of its second series when Jackson was injured.
“Yeah, that was tough with B-Jack,” said quarterback Russell Wilson, who was among the many players who stayed on the field as Jackson was tended to by physicians and eventually placed on a backboard and lifted into an ambulance on the field.
“It’s part of the game, unfortunately. It’s a tough game that we play and you can never take it for granted. I know we were all in there praying for him and praying on the field.”
Wilson said of Jackson’s status: “I believe that he will be OK it sounds like, hopefully. Just praying for healing.”
Jackson, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Oakland in 2016, has been with the Seahawks since 2017.
He is coming off his best season, playing in 15 games last year and starting three with 20 tackles and two sacks, each career highs.
Jackson was retained by Seattle in the offseason when he signed a restricted free agent tender that would have paid him $2.13 million this season.
He was released July 26, then re-signed eight days later to a less-expensive one-year deal and has been working as a backup at the strongside defensive end spot.
Jackson lay facedown on the turf after taking the helmet from Ogbuehi and was quickly tended to by physicians. His facemack was eventually cut off and he was placed on a stretcher and in an ambulance.
The mock game is one of two the Seahawks will hold at CenturyLink Field — the next is Wednesday — which Carroll said he hopes will also prepare the team for what it will be like playing games in an empty stadium.
The Seahawks announced during the week that the first three home games this year will be played without fans because of the COVID-19 epidemic, with decisions made later in the year on whether fans will be allowed at games later in the season.
The Seahawks piped in crowd noise, which they will do during the season to try to give the players something of a feel of a game-day atmosphere. Saturday’s mock game included a playing of the anthem and coin toss and all the usual elements of a regular game day.
Carroll said figuring out the appropriate crowd noise was one of the major goals for Saturday’s game.
Carroll said the team experimented with different levels during the prepractice portion of the day.
NFL rules, he said, will require that teams stick with one decibel level throughout the game this season. He said the Seahawks decided on a volume Saturday that was not at the maximum level.
“The sound we messed with them in pregame (was) to try to get a feel for it,” Carroll said. “Both offenses handled it fine. l talked to Geno and Russell about it and they felt comfortable with what the sound was set at. If we want to crank it up a little bit, we can.”
Because the scrimmage was closed and was not streamed, media were prohibited from detailing specifics.
But in statistics passed along by the team, Tyler Lockett led all receivers with four receptions while former Husky Aaron Fuller had three, all coming from Smith. Olsen and John Ursua had two each while Metcalf, Hollister, Travis Homer, Nick Bellore and Phillip Dorsett II each had one.
Bobby Wagner was credited with one sack, that coming on Smith.
The Seahawks are off Sunday before resuming practice at the VMAC in Renton Monday.
Saturday’s practice was the ninth for the Seahawks during training camp.