Seahawks Wednesday Training Camp: 'The Ken Walker III Show'
Seaside Bonus: Folks, it's happening
Though The Athletic is taking vacation days during Seahawks training camp, Seaside Joe has a feeling you actually want more coverage of the team as the first preseason game approaches, not less.
So today’s Seaside Bo-nus on training camp notes will be the first of two I’ll be sending out for Regular Joes over the rest of the Wednesday.
There’s a lot to recap from Wednesdays “hard hitting practice” that includes updates on Drew Lock vs Geno Smith, the relief of finally seeing DK Metcalf connect with the quarterbacks in scrimmages, Ken Walker III’s breakout day in place of Rashaad Penny, an update on Dee Eskridge, more new offensive line combinations, an injury in the secondary, continued stardom from the Coby Bryant, and Andy Dickerson meets with the media.
First, and just in time after I wrote another amazing Ken Walker story on Wednesday morning, the rookie running back is doing exactly what I said he would do from the minute he was drafted: Make “analytics” eat their numbers.
Everything is a-go for Rashaad Penny to be the starting running back in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos and I expect him to have a good season for as long as he is healthy. There’s not much more that can be said about how Penny finished 2021, but also no reason to overlook it either. Even though the game will be different without Russell Wilson as the quarterback and a rebuilt offensive line, Penny has all the talent necessary to be a 900-1,110 yard back.
I would liken this situation to the one that Wilson currently has in Denver: Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams had near equal opportunities and production last season and I think that Penny and Walker can replicate that success. But if Penny does miss any time, Walker looks ready to be as good as he wants to be.
Gregg Bell called it “The Ken Walker Show” during practice on Wednesday, “putting on an eye-catching show of moves and bursts.”
Sounds a lot like what I wrote on May 4: “Uh oh :/ Walker is going to be good right away.” I’m sorry, but these people who tried to hedge their bets by saying “Look, I love the player but you can’t draft a RB at 41” will not be able to use that excuse after Walker rushes for 150 yards for the first time. There was no avenue towards drafting a running back as good as him at any other point in the draft other than 41 and by the time your head hits the pillow tonight, he’ll already be a fan favorite.
Walker met with the media after practice and confirmed something else that I’ve been predicting: Walker will catch a lot more balls in the NFL than he did in college. Walker said that the biggest change from college to the league so far is that the Seahawks are giving him a lot more passing plays than he received at Wake Forest and Michigan State.
But as I’ve been saying (because we’ve watched every game together here at Joe) it was never for lack of talent. Walker said that he played a lot of WR in high school and that he’s comfortable catching the football, which always showed up on film.
Fans that weren’t there didn’t get to see Walker’s highlights on Wednesday, but the film is coming soon. We’ll watch that too.
Others getting the day off: Jordyn Brooks, Artie Burns, Quinton Jefferson.
Walker was also returning kickoffs, as well as DeeJay Dallas, Freddie Swaint, and Cade Johnson.
When will Drew Lock catch Geno Smith?
Drew Lock continued to play with the 2s on Wednesday, with Geno Smith exclusively working with the starters. I’m going with the prediction that Lock starts getting reps with the 1s next week, Smith starts the first preseason game, then Lock starts the second, and he’s named the starter shortly before the preseason finale.
I have no inside info and this is a lot more of a hunch than accurately predicting that DK Metcalf contract. To me, DK was easy and any Seahawks writer worth their salt should’ve been able to know that. This is more of a reading the tea leaves situation and rather than this being a true competition, I wonder if it is closer to a “first round rookie expected to beat out the bridge option soon enough” scenario.
Bob Condotta notes “best back to back passing plays at camp” at one point, one for Geno and one for Lock. It sounds as though Lock’s was more of a deep bomb, whereas Geno’s didn’t have to gain as much air yards. Which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the respective quarterbacks. As long as Lock mitigates his turnovers, why wouldn’t the job go to him?
And we know, from them telling us, that Geno and Jacob Eason have spent a lot of time in the offseason getting Lock up to speed on the playbook. Not every veteran who believes he’s going to finally get his chance to start again would have time (or interest?) to give his competition the best opportunity possible to beat him for the job.
Smith did end the practice with “three straight sharp completions,” according to Bell.
But it wasn’t all perfect for Smith, as he was also credited with “overthrows” and getting beat by Sidney Jones deflections.
Of course, it has been common all camp for Seattle’s secondary to stand out. Jones IV did leave with a trainer at the end of practice however.
Andy Dickerson meets with the media
I didn’t have time to glean much from Dickerson’s post-practice media session but came in right as he was complimenting the wideouts: “Those WRs, they’re flying in there. The effort is amazing.”
Asked about the offensive line competition, Dickerson made a good joke.
Asked “Where’s the right tackle situation at?”, Dickerson responded: “It’s outside the right guard.”
Speaking of which, Stone Forsythe played RT with the 1s, while Phil Haynes and Jake Curhan were the respective guards.
In other words, it was a rest day for some of the offensive line. I still think your probable starting offensive line is the same as ever: Charles Cross-Damien Lewis-Austin Blythe-Gabe Jackson-Jake Curhan.
It’s possible that Jackson will be replaced by Haynes, or that Curhan will start inside and either Forsythe or Abe Lucas will start at right tackle. The Seahawks might be able to receive a pick in trade and save money in the process if another NFL team has a need at guard; it’s something I predicted way back in March.
Ryan Neal injury opens more opportunities in secondary
Ryan Neal left practice on Tuesday and didn’t return Wednesday. Ugo Amadi has also been absent from practice the last two days. At one point this opened the door for UDFA Bubba Bolden to get some reps and he laid a hard hit on Travis Homer, leading to a scrum.
Drew Lock will win the starting job eventually
If he’s doing this well with the 2s, how good will Lock do with the 1s? On the contrary, if he’s struggling at times against the 2s, how much will he struggle against Seattle’s starting defense?
All the more reason to believe that Carroll is protecting Lock from losing his confidence by getting his ass kicked if he’s playing with the 1s before he’s fully comfortable in practice. New playbook, new teammates, new pressure. I fully do expect Lock to become the starter.
The Coby Bryant
As you can see above, Bryant picked off Geno Smith.
If Artie Burns is getting a rest day, is that actually in the best interest of Artie Burns? Because a few more rest days and Coby Bryant might just text him “Stay home” when the regular season begins.
The fourth round pick hasn’t faced Aaron Rodgers or Cooper Kupp yet, but he’s the defensive star at a training camp with a number of defensive standouts.
Condotta did say that Bryant maybe had his roughest stretch at the end of practice, allowing three straight completions.
Tariq Woolen got work with the 1s as well and reportedly held his own.
Dee Eskridge is again there, but not there
Nothing new on Dee Eskridge. The team seems to be slowly—slowly—preparing him to get back into action. There’s still six weeks until the regular season and months of football after that. No need to panic. But it will be cool to see him out there when he’s out there.
Pete Carroll back Friday
Carroll has missed the last few days after testing positive for Covid. He is expected back in two days after a Thursday break.
No rest for Seaside Joe, I’ll be back later.
Seems like any news about Dee Eskridge is “he is SLOWLY” recovering ……….
Concussion, sprain, strain, etc.
Sounds like what we went thru with Penny the last few years.
Hopefully Eskridge will have a breakthrough like Penny
Penny will continue like he did at end of season.
First off, in that footage of Walker returning a kick or punt, I like the way he covered the ball as he approached traffic and protected it when he went down. He may need to do that earlier in the play at the NFL level because guys at this level put a lot of time into learning how to strip a ball. But he seems to think well on his feet and I'm sure he'll develop great technique for this level.
Can't tell much from practice footage but I like your predictions on Lock and how he's being brought along. My guess is you're probably right and, even if you're not, I appreciate your willingness to stick your neck out. As you've pointed out, it makes sense that they'd want to go with Lock unless he's truly not showing up as well as Smith. He's got the arm; he's got the scrambling ability. If anyone has the potential to surprise and become an NFL-caliber starter, it's the kid.