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Pete Carroll Show: How did Seahawks’ rookies, new starters look in Week 1?

Freddie Swain makes his first catch. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Most of the attention was on star quarterback Russell Wilson and trade acquisition Jamal Adams in the Seahawks’ 38-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons, but some of the team’s rookies and new young starters also stood out to head coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll: Wilson ‘almost perfect,’ thoughts on new-look secondary

While talking to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant for his weekly Pete Carroll Show on Monday morning, Carroll shared his thoughts on three 2020 draft picks who played in Atlanta, as well as two new starters on the offensive and defensive lines who, in Carroll’s estimation, performed well.

Here’s what Carroll had to say to Danny O’Neil, Paul Gallant and Michael Bumpus.

Rookies played well

The Seahawks made eight picks in April’s NFL Draft, but just three played in the Week 1 opener as two are injured, two were healthy scratches and one is on the practice squad after being waived during roster cuts. That left just first-round linebacker Jordyn Brooks, third-round guard Damien Lewis and sixth-round receiver Freddie Swain on the active roster Sunday.

All three saw playing time, with Lewis getting far and away the most work as he started at right guard. He had a few penalties but Carroll said the team should be able to clean that up going forward and that it was a good day overall for the rookie guard.

“I thought (the rookies) did fine. Damien, for sure, he had the biggest load to carry,” Carroll said. “The penalties, he’s got to get better with his hands. The holding penalties are the ones that really bother us, so it’s something that we’ve been harping on and we are harping on it and we’ll harp on it all the way through and we’ve just got to get him better. But he played good football. He was tough, he had some really dominant blocks and that’s a really good debut for him.”

Swain’s day was notable in two ways. First, he recovered a fumble when the Falcons ran a fake punt. Marquise Blair read the play and knocked the ball out and Swain was able to recover it, which resulted in a Wilson touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen. Then later, Swain made his first career catch on a slant for 17 yards.

Carroll said Swain was “all over the special teams” and that he may make a bigger impact on offense this season than most expected.

“He’s a good football player and he’s a guy that we really trust in a lot of situations, so you’ll see him play more and more,” he said.

Brooks is listed as veteran K.J. Wright’s backup at the weakside (WILL) linebacker spot, and though he didn’t play much on defense (seven snaps), he did get his first career tackle on receiver Julio Jones, who had a huge game for Atlanta.

“Jordyn Brooks got in there in the first series of the game and rotated in a little bit,” Carroll said. “(We’re) trying to break him in and get him going, so he’s going to be a great factor. We’re really excited about him.”

New starters coming through

Though he’s not a rookie, 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier stepped up to see his most significant playing time at defensive end as a pro and earned some praise from his head coach.

“That’s a good performance for him, his first time starting and I’m sure we’re going to see more from him,” Carroll said.

Collier injured his ankle in training camp last year and missed a lot of time, including all four preseason games and the season opener. He played sparingly and didn’t do much on the field in 2020, recording just three tackles. He got his first start against the Falcons and finished the game with one tackle and a quarterback hit on the first drive of the game, which resulted in a Matt Ryan intentional grounding penalty.

“He was active and mobile and showed a good motor and all that, so it was a good start for him,” Carroll said.

On the other line, Ethan Pocic, a 2017 second-round pick, got the start at center after beating out free-agent signing B.J. Finney for the job in training camp. Pocic was a center in college at LSU but played all over the line for the Seahawks since 2017, mainly at guard. Now, he’s back to his natural position.

The offensive line, which has three new starters, worked together well, Carroll said, and a lot of that was because of Pocic.

“I think Pocic deserves a lot of credit for that. He’s in the middle of all the communications and handling that,” Carroll said. “It was really what Ethan took charge of really early in the camp. He just was the best versed, been around the longest with us and he just held onto that job and it showed in the game. I thought he did a nice job and got better as the game went on.”

Listen to the Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

Follow Danny O’Neil, Paul Gallant and Michael Bumpus on Twitter.

More on the Seahawks’ Week 1 win

Huard: Hawks showed ‘pure and utter violence’ for first time in years
Moore: Time to tip my cap to the ‘cooking people’?
Rost: Did the Seahawks actually let Russell Wilson cook?
‘Thrilled he’s on our team’: Seahawks, Jamal Adams beaming after his debut
O’Neil: New season, new Seahawks? Win over Falcons sure felt that way
Seahawks Instant Reaction: 710 ESPN Seattle on 38-25 win over Falcons

Danny and Gallant Show