On the fourth day, the pads were on. And the Seahawks defense came out hitting

By Josh Kirshenbaum

The News Tribune

RENTON — For the first time this summer, the sound of football — full contact football — filled the air at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, with the Seahawks fully gearing up on their fourth day of training camp.

After the previous days of practice, multiple defensive players had said they were waiting for the first pads practice so they could make plays on the ball and play closer to game speed. But they excitement wasn’t just limited to one side of the ball.

“I can be aggressive now, and just be myself,” rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf said after practice.

According to the schedule Pete Carroll laid out last week, Seattle’s third practice of training camp — on Sunday — was set up to be the first pads practice. But Sunday came and went without the shoulder pads coming out, much to a couple Seahawks’ disappointment.

“No explanation,” linebacker K.J. Wright said after Sunday’s practice. “I was like, OK, whatever, we’ll put them on tomorrow.’”

Monday morning, Wright got his wish. The defense, especially the defensive backs, took advantage, forcing more incompletions in team drills than in any other day. During the first period of 11-on-11 play, with the offense working in the red zone, the rush got to Paxton Lynch, who tried to float a pass to Chris Carson in the flat. As the ball came down, Ugo Amadi hit the tailback hard, tipped the ball up, and came down with the only interception of the day.

During a later period of 11-on-11 play, Tre Flowers boxed out a wide receiver running a go route down the left side of the field to break up a pass. The very next play, Shaquill Griffin matched his fellow corner, bodying Daniel Williams on the opposite sideline in the end zone.

Despite the added physicality, only one flag for pass interference was thrown.

Afterward, defensive coordinator Ken Norton didn’t have an answer for the extra pads-less day, saying it was a question for Carroll and Carroll only.

“You don’t have to wait too long,” Norton said. “That’s what we do. We put the pads on and we run fast and hit people.”

With six practices between now and Seattle’s first preseason action, Seahawks on both sides of the ball were ready to start to ramp up to real-game reps, the defensive players wanting to lay hits and the offensive players wanting to get experience taking them.

“It was pretty cool,” wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. “Every day is pretty much the same. Just a little bit more contact. In OTAs, the defense kind of has to let you catch the ball, but out here you get more of the football feel and get to see where you’re at and what you have to do to prepare for to get ready for the season.”

Depth at receiver

Entering his first season as the spotlight receiver in the Seattle offense, Tyler Lockett is just happy he’s not having to fight for a spot on the team.

“I’m glad I’m not the one that’s having to make the cuts, because everyone’s doing phenomenal, putting themselves in a position to make the team,” Lockett said. “That’s all you can really ask for, is being able to get an opportunity, and I think each guy is taking advantage of it.”

There are 12 receivers on Seattle’s roster; as many as seven are going to have to be cut come Aug. 31.

Behind Lockett, Metcalf has been getting a good deal of the attention. The second-round draft pick out of Ole Miss continued to dazzle Monday, hauling in an impressive touchdown on a go route down the sideline on a pass from Russell Wilson in 7-on-7 drills.

Later in 7-on-7 play, he caught another touchdown, breaking down in the end zone and flaring out to catch the ball near the sideline.

“I see a lot of greatness in him,” Lockett said. “I think he’s already being able to understand what it is we want him to do. He’s already great at positioning, he’s great at speed, he’s great at being able to catch the ball, really physical. With those assets, he could take that anywhere. He could be able to be whatever it is he wants to be as long as he continues to have the work ethic to go with his talent and skills.”

Barton continues to shine

If Metcalf is the star rookie on offense, his defensive counterpart may well be Cody Barton, the Seahawks’s third-round pick from Utah.

“He’s been amazing,” Norton said. “He’s been a really good rookie. His ability to come in and soak up information and be able to take it to the field and make plays is what a good rookie should do.”

With Mychal Kendricks not dressed Monday, Barton slipped in with the starters during 11-on-11 drills, playing alongside Wright and Bobby Wagner.

In Kendricks’ place, he got reps at strong-side linebacker, the first time he’d played there. The defensive system at Utah didn’t differentiate as much between its middle linebackers.

“It was cool,” Barton said, speaking to the media for the first time this camp. “It was a good experience. Just taking all of the experiences and learning from them.”

Extra points

Will Dissly, coming back from a torn patellar tendon from his rookie season, participated in team drills for the first time in training camp. He made a brief appearance in 7-on-7 drills before going out with the offense to start the second session of 11-on-11 play. A couple plays later, he caught a pass from Geno Smith on a 5-yard out route on the left side of the field. …

The Seahawks ran their first real drives in 11-on-11 play of camp, starting each play from where the previous one ended and keeping track of downs. The first drive ended in the end zone, but the next two finished with the defense — now allowed to hit a little harder — forcing field goals. .. Speaking of field goals, Jason Myers was perfect on the day once again, both in kicking drills early and the aforementioned drives to end practice. … Jazz Ferguson made arguably the catch of the day — maybe one of catches of camp — in 7-on-7 drills, going up the seam and climbing up over Niko Thorpe to come down with a TD.