RENTON — Real football, they call it.
After spending the first four workouts of training camp in jerseys and shorts, the Seahawks were able to put on their shoulder pads for the first time Tuesday.
As such, the intensity and the physicality ramped up a bit during the 90-minute workout at the VMAC. There still is no tackling and no big hits — these guys are teammates, after all — but this is the time when we do start to see more physicality, particularly at the line of scrimmage.
“It feels good to get into real football now,” new Seahawks defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. said. “Now we can see what we really need to work on and where we need to grow.”
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said coaches can now start to get a better assessment of players on defense. That’s especially true of the defensive backs, who aren’t allowed to make aggressive plays on the ball in the first week of camp.
“Before we put the pads on, we’re not able to play on the ball — you have to let the ball go to the offense,” Norton said. “Now that we can make plays on the ball, you’ll see a lot more interceptions, a lot more pass breakups and things like that. So for the defense, it is more like real football — now we can make plays on the ball.”
Here are some real football observations from Bob Condotta and Adam Jude from Tuesday:
First, three from Jude:
Welcome back, Mr. Woods
Veteran defensive tackle Al Woods has made his presence felt in his return to the Seahawks. The 6-foot-3, 330-pound, 11th-year pro had a stop of Alex Collins in the backfield during one of the final team periods, and he figures to be a key figure in the defensive line rotation — much as he was when he last played in the NFL in 2019.
Woods was one of 66 NFL players who opted out of playing in 2020 because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. He had signed a one-year deal with Jacksonville before the COVID shutdown but never ended up playing for the Jaguars.
Woods signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks in March to help replace Jarran Reed.
“(Woods) gives you a certain confidence that you can go into any fight (when) you realize you got a big man like that with you,” Norton said. “And he’s a leader. Guys look up to him. And when we’re talking about being dominant up front, that’s the kind of guy you’d like getting off the bus first.”
Another pick for Diggs
Free safety Quandre Diggs picked off Russell Wilson for the second time in two days.
This one came during a 7-on-7 period, and this one was about as easy as it gets for a safety.
There was a clear miscommunication on the route run by DK Metcalf, who stopped in the middle of the field just as Wilson released his throw to where he thought Metcalf was running. The pass went right to Diggs.
On Monday, Diggs had the highlight of camp so far, when he made a diving, one-handed catch on the ball after it was tipped in the back of the end zone by Tre Flowers.
Backup QBs making a case
It was another good day for Geno Smith, who is holding strong to the No. 2 QB job.
Smith made a nice throw for a touchdown to undrafted rookie receiver Cade Johnson during one red-zone drill. Smith later launched a pass more than 50 yards down the field — a high, arching pass ex-Husky receiver Aaron Fuller almost caught looking over his shoulder at the goal line.
Meanwhile, former Rams QB Sean Mannion, despite limited snaps, looked sharp in his second practice with the Seahawks. Again, there is no real threat of Mannion leapfrogging Smith for the No. 2 job at this point — but it is a situation worth monitoring over the next few weeks.
And three from Condotta:
One-on-ones take center stage
A highlight of teams getting into pads is the ability of the linemen to conduct “one-on-ones.” Simply put, those are pass-rush battles between a defensive lineman and an offensive lineman.
Seattle’s linemen gathered for a 10-15 minute session or so in which linemen got against each there for two consecutive plays — an end against a tackle, a tackle against a guard, etc. Both coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider gathered to watch the drills up close Tuesday.
Sometimes they result in some hot tempers — pretty much daily for a few years when Germain Ifedi and Michael Bennett would go at it. That wasn’t the case Tuesday as the Seahawks kept everything in check. The linemen even went through a handshake line at the end of the drill.
One notable mashup featured rookie left tackle Stone Forsythe against Aldon Smith. Forsythe got a clear win in the first rep before a second one that appeared to be pretty even. Forsythe later also appeared to hold his own against Darrell Taylor. His size, certainly, makes him hard to get around.
Robert Nkemdiche, whose pass rush ability could go a long way toward determining how big of a role he has on the team this year, also had a clear win against Phil Haynes before Haynes then rebounded to get the better of it on the second snap, in part because Nkemdiche initially jumped before the snap and was not in a good position.
Ogbuehi fills in at LT with Brown, Jones sidelined
Cedric Ogbuehi has made it clear he wants to be a right tackle for the Seahawks — and Seattle is giving him every chance to win the job essentially alternating so far in camp with Brandon Shell.
But Tuesday, with Duane Brown still sitting out as he seeks a new contract, and Jamarco Jones out for the day after having his knee rolled up on late in Monday’s practice, Ogbuehi worked with the first team at left tackle. As Carroll said on Monday, Ogbuehi will have to be able to play both sides to make the roster — game-day roster limits mean just about every linemen has to be able to fill multiple roles.
But Ogbuehi’s move there also showed that while Forsythe is a really intriguing prospect, the Seahawks surely hope they don’t have to force him into a major role at LT this season. If something were to happen with Brown, Jones and Ogbuehi seem like the top two alternatives there for now.
Wagner still out; Dunlap and Everett also sit out
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was out for a second day to deal with a personal matter. That had Cody Barton predominantly working as the middle linebacker with the number one defense alongside Jordyn Brooks at WLB.
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap and tight end Gerald Everett also sat out Tuesday for unknown reasons. Both watched from the sidelines so each may well have just been getting a day off.
Guard Gabe Jackson, who was off Monday, was back in full pads Tuesday.
With Jackson back, the usual starting OL Tuesday was, left to right: Ogbuehi, Damien Lewis, Kyle Fuller, Jackson and Shell.
And just to make the now-daily note, safety Jamal Adams also again sat out. As he has been for a week, Adams watched practice in his jersey.