Putting on shoulder pads for the first time Monday meant the Seahawks could also begin to get some answers about what may be the team’s biggest question — its pass rush.
Not that any will come too soon or easily, especially with defensive end and hoped-for main pass rusher Ziggy Ansah still limited to only conditioning work as he continues to recover from off-season shoulder surgery.
But with the pads on, the Seahawks could do some real hitting Monday, and practice included the first one-on-one pass rush sessions of the season — a defensive player lined up against an offensive lineman going mano a mano for two straight plays.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said what you might expect when asked how the sessions went — he needs to review the film.
The session offered Seattle its first in-pads look at first-round pick L.J. Collier. Collier went twice against backup left tackle Jamarco Jones, attempting a bullrush each time. Each time he pushed Jones back some and maybe even would have been credited with a win. But the reaction of both Collier and those around him indicated Collier was hoping for a little bit more
Defensive line coach Clint Hurtt immediately approached Collier and offered some animated advice.
A little later, veteran left tackle Duane Brown also talked to Collier for a minute or so, wrapping up the session with a little tap on the head of encouragement.
Collier has so far not gotten anywhere near the hype heaped on other rookies such as receiver DK Metcalf and linebacker Cody Barton. But in fairness to Collier, linemen often go pretty under-the-radar in the early non-contact sessions.
The hope will be that Collier — who is playing primarily the five-technique or strongside end spot and not the LEO rush end position where Ansah and Cassius Marsh figure to be the primary players — begins to make some noise now that the pads are on.
Norton said that’s what he expects will happen.
“Like him,’’ Norton said of Collier. “The kid is big, strong, fast, just like we expected. He loves ball. I think that he’s really getting comfortable with his environment now, and he’s certainly going to help us.”
How much and how quickly, though, is something we’ll find out a lot more about over the next few weeks.
Here’s a bit more of what we learned Monday:
RUSSELL WILSON IN REGULAR SEASON FORM
Wilson is easy to take for granted this time of year with attention inevitably often focused on the new players or the spots where there’s some intrigue.
So it’s worth noting that through four practices, Wilson appears to be picking up where he left off a year ago, when threw for a career-high 35 touchdowns (also a franchise record) while tying a career-low seven interceptions, seemingly on target and on point with just about every throw.
Among other plays Monday, Wilson had two nice throws to Metcalf, one on about a 20-yard back-shoulder throw down the sideline that Metcalf corralled in front of tight coverage from Tre Flowers.
Carroll made an interesting point on Sunday that Wilson may have benefitted some by getting his contract done in April and not having to worry about that during the offseason — in 2015 when Wilson got his first extension with the team he signed it the night before training camp began.
“Russ has had a great offseason,’’ Carroll said. “He’s come back flying because his mind has been clear and intent and focused, and all that has been on point.’’
Wilson, recall, set a deadline of April 15 to get a contract from the team. Whether he really would have not negotiated with the Seahawks after that date if a deal hadn’t gotten done is something that may never really be known, but the Seahawks took it seriously enough to get the deal done, even if they might not have liked being publicly backed into a corner a little bit.
Turns out, the deadline and the action it spurred to get the deal done may have been the best thing for both Wilson and the team.
STARTING OFFENSIVE LINE IMPRESSES AGAIN
The starting linemen all appeared to fare well in their pass-rush battles, most notably Brown, who from this vantage point got the better of Barkevious Mingo in the two reps they went against each other. In fairness to Mingo, he’ll hardly go against anyone better as he tries to make a switch to becoming more of a pass rusher this season after playing mostly strongside linebacker a year ago.
Watching the pass rush drills, though, only further reinforced that as of now, Seattle’s offensive line appears as set and stable as any time in the Carroll era, with five veteran starters who at the moment are all healthy.
LINEUPS PRETTY UNCHANGED SO FAR
Through four days of camp there has been no real change to starting spots anywhere.
The first-team defense was pretty much the same as it has been all camp other than Cody Barton subbing in for an injured Mychal Kendricks at strongside linebacker in the base defense.
When the team went nickel, the starting unit featured Cassius Marsh and Jacob Martin at ends and Poona Ford and Jarran Reed at tackles, with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright at linebacker, Akeem King at slot corner, Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson at safety and Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin at corner.
The starting offensive line, as noted, appears rock solid with the starting five of Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi.
The tight end spot remains intriguing, and Will Dissly appears to still be limited in his total plays, which means also seeing a lot of Ed Dickson and Nick Vannett with the starters and in two tight end sets.
On Monday, the first three receivers on the field in a three-receiver set were the veteran trio of Tyler Lockett, David Moore and Jaron Brown.
The next three were D.K. Metcalf, Amara Darboh and Malik Turner.
But there’s still a long way to go to determine how many receivers, and exactly who, will make the 53.
FLOWERS HAS EVENTUFUL DAY
As noted above, Metcalf made a catch on Flowers even though Flowers appeared right where he needed to be in coverage.
But Flowers got the better of some of his other matchups — and some revenge at one point for what he thought was a bad call as did a few watching, when he was called for pass interference on a play when he was defending Jazz Ferguson.
On the next play, with Paxton Lynch as the QB, the ball again went to Ferguson, but Flowers batted it away.