BOTHELL — Many in the crowd that began filling Pop Kenney Stadium for Saturday’s Seahawks mock game more than hour before it was set to begin likely came hoping to see what heralded rookie receiver DK Metcalf could do in what would have been his first game-like situation in a Seattle uniform.
But the wait for a public debut of Metcalf in a Seattle uniform will have to wait as Metcalf watched from the sidelines due to what coach Pete Carroll called “a little oblique strain’’ suffered on the last play in practice on Friday.
Carroll also said Metcalf has been “banged up on a couple of things’’ in practices of late, so the team thought it a good idea to hold him Saturday, and with an off day Sunday hope that two days off will allow him to return on Monday.
“I’m not sure about that,’’ Carroll said of Metcalf practicing again on Monday. “But we are shooting for that.’’
So, it sounds like no real big deal for Metcalf with Carroll’s comments indicating he should be able to play in the preseason opener Thursday against Denver at CenturyLink Field — he did some pretty hard running on the field during warmups.
Conversely, worries about Metcalf’s durability were part of the reason he fell to the final pick of the second round — he played in 21 games while missing 15 in his three seasons at Ole Miss.
It’s obviously nothing to fret about yet. But as Metcalf enters a rookie season as anticipated as any in recent Seahawks history, it’s something to watch until it isn’t.
Here’s more of what we learned from the mock game
Russell Wilson shows his mettle — again
Russell Wilson made it back to take part in the mock game after having spent the previous 24 hours flying to Norfolk, Va., to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Dr. Harrison B. Wilson, and then getting back to Seattle. Attending the funeral meant Wilson missed Friday’s practice, only the second of his eight-year NFL career, the other a voluntary OTA (Organized Team Activity) in 2015 to also attend a funeral, that for the surrogate mother of teammate Jimmy Graham. Wilson’s grandfather passed away at age 94 last Sunday.
Carroll said Wilson handled the situation “about as well as you can under the circumstances. He went cross country, back and forth in a day, and got back here and performed great today. I asked him ‘was it hard on you?’ and he said ‘no, I’m made for this.’ He can handle that kind of stuff. He handles his mentality so well that he just overrides whatever is going on around him so he can get through it. He did a great job today.”
Wilson said it helped that “I know he’s in a good place” and said he imagines both his grandfather and father watching the Seahawks play from above.
He called it “super important” that he was able to attend the funeral and “go back home and see my family and everything else and just celebrate his life with them. It was quick, 20 hours, 24 hours, but it was worth it.”
Further shakeup at tight end?
Jacob Hollister, a third-year tight end acquired from Wyoming, has been a pleasant surprise since being acquired from New England for a seventh-round pick shortly after the draft.
He continued his strong play Saturday with four catches for 47 yards, tied for the most receptions of any other player (Jazz Ferguson also had four — more on him in a minute).
Hollister is one of four veteran tight ends competing for what might be just three spots for tight ends on the roster (not including George Fant, who often plays as essentially a tight end — and was actually split out on one play early Saturday — and whose presence is one reason Seattle may keep just three).
But in news that might resonate as much as anything that happened Saturday, veteran tight end Ed Dickson did not participate with Carroll saying he is battling a sore knee.
“Ed has got a sore knee that is bothering him a little bit,’’ Carroll said. “We are keeping him off of his knee. We did MRI stuff and all that. We are taking a look at it. Break him for a couple of days and see what we’ve got.”
If anything serious is found then Seattle’s tight end situation might clear itself pretty quickly.
Dickson, 32, signed a three-year deal last year and has been thought by some as a possible salary cap casualty as Seattle could save $2.6 million against the cap if he is released. Seattle can’t just release him if he’s hurt, but if he is going to be out a while, then the decision of who to keep on the active roster might clear itself up quickly.
Will Dissly is a lock and Nick Vannett also has been working steadily with the starting unit. Throw in Hollister and if Dickson is out, then that might be the tight end trio.
Reynolds states his receiving case
Carroll again called the receiving position Saturday “really competitive.’’
That came after third-year veteran Keenan Reynolds showed exactly why, making two catches for 42 yards, both from Russell Wilson, to key an early offensive surge for the starting Blue team.
The influx of rookies such as Metcalf and Gary Jennings can make it easy to overlook Reynolds.
But the former Navy quarterback has been one of the most consistent receiving presences in camp and unlike a year ago, when he was largely a slot receiver (called up twice off the practice squad last season when depth was needed at that spot) this year he has been playing both in the slot and the outside spots emerging as one of Wilson’s favorite targets.
“He continues to do good stuff,’’ Carroll said. ”He can do everything, plays every position. Really smart kid and he comes through.’’
Seattle appears to have four locks as receivers — Tyler Lockett, David Moore (who also had a nice day Saturday with two catches for 48 yards to key an early scoring drive), Jaron Brown and Metcalf. Seattle might keep only five or six receivers on its initial 53-man roster depending on needs elsewhere and the list of candidates for those spots is vast – Reynolds, Jennings, Amara Darboh, John Ursua and Ferguson among those.
As Carroll said “it’s going to be great to see what happens all the way through the preseason.’’
Ferguson makes some sweet music
Ferguson has so far attracted attention mostly for his fun name and intriguing tangibles – he’s listed at 6-5, 228.
But Saturday, he gave everyone something to talk about with his play, a team-high four receptions, two for touchdowns in the final minutes to key a comeback for the Green team.
Now, there remain caveats — there is no to-the-ground tackling, which as Carroll said sort of changes the mode in which the defense plays with a little bit. And one of the plays was a little fluky — a 42-yard TD when Tre Flowers appeared to have a bead on interception a Geno Smith pass but instead tipped it to Ferguson, who juggled it and then controlled it and ran untouched the rest of the way for an easy score.
Had Flowers caught the pass, or not tipped it to Ferguson, the game might well have just about ended there — the Blue team was up 20-10 at the time — and Ferguson might not have been had the chance to catch another TD a few minutes later after Carroll decided to give the ball back to the Green team to create a last-minute situation for the team to practice.
But Ferguson got his chances and made the most of them Saturday, which will at least compel the Seahawks to keep taking a close look at him.
Ferguson was roughly 240 pounds for Seattle’s rookie minicamp in May, much to Carroll’s chagrin.
That he got in better shape and has been more pleasing to Carroll.
“He got the message,’’ Carroll said.
Ferguson for now projects as likely being a player the Seahawks would like to keep around on the practice squad. But Saturday was a step in the right direction to hanging around in any capacity.
“He’s competing,’’ Carroll said. “He did a nice job today, made some nice plays.’’
No real lineup surprises
As interesting as anything in the mock game is reviewing the lineups, which give as close a look at a depth chart as is possible until the Seahawks start playing games.
The two-deeps didn’t reveal any real surprises, but here’s how they appeared:
QB Russell Wilson, RBs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, TE Nick Vannett (as noted, Ed Dickson was out), WRS Lockett, Brown and Moore with Reynolds rotating in; LT Duane Brown, LG Ethan Pocic (with Mike Iupati still out) C Justin Britt, RG D.J. Fluker, RT Germain Ifedi (with George Fant, Jamarco Jones and Jordan Roos rotating in).
QBs Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch; RBs C.J.Prosise and Bo Scarbrough, TE Jacob Holliser (Dissly was in uniform but limited), WRs John Ursua, Amara Darboh and Gary Jennings; LT Jamarco Jones, LG Demitrius Knox, C Joey Hunt, RG Jordan Simmons, RT Elijah Nkansah.
DE Quinton Jefferson and Cassius Marsh, DL Poona Ford and Al Woods (with Jarran Reed sitting out), MLB Bobby Wagner, WLB K.J. Wright, SLB Mychal Kendricks, CBs Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin with Akeem King at nickel; Safeties Tedric Thompson and Bradley McDougald (among those rotating in with the starters was Barkevious Mingo, Earl Mitchell, Jacob Martin, Branden Jackson, Austin Calitro, Shalom Luani, Kalan Reed).
DE Jackson, Naz Jones, Mingo; DTs Jamie Meder, Bryan Mone, Jay-Tee Tiuli; SLB Shaquem Griffin, MLB Calitro, WLB Jawaun Johnson (Ben Burr-Kirven also didn’t appear to do any team drills and Cody Barton is also out); CBs Neiko Thorpe, Jamar Taylor, Simeon Thomas; Safeties Marquise Blair, DeShawn Shead.
Worth noting as well Rasheem Green was not in full pads and didn’t take part in team drills.
A few more notes
- It was hard to make a lot of the backup QB battle. Paxton Lynch was 7-11 for 91 yards and led one TD and one FG drive on three series while Geno Smith was 5-10 for 87 yards and the two late TDs, and also had two drives that ended in punts.
- Carson was 3-23 rushing while Penny was 6-26. Other running: C.J. Prosise, 4-7, Travis Homer 3-8, Bo Scarbrough 3-2.
- Four players were recorded as having sacks — Mingo, Calitro, Kendricks and Jefferson.