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An early Seahawks camp highlight worth getting excited about

Jul 28, 2023, 8:32 AM

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith...

Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith passes during a practice in Renton, Wash. (Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There’s an element of the Seattle Seahawks’ offense that Seattle Sports’ Brock Huard and Michael Bumpus have both been calling for more of in 2023: the screen game.

DK Metcalf: Jaxon Smith-Njigba ‘going to be special’ for Seahawks

Execution on screen passes have been an issue for the Hawks in recent years, but Huard, a former NFL quarterback, and Bumpus, who was a wide receiver in the league, have each taken stock of Seattle’s weapons and seen it as an obvious spot where the offense can improve.

On Day 1 of training camp this week at Seahawks headquarters in Renton, their prayers were answered. Just watch this:

That’s rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the Seahawks’ two first-round picks, taking off after catching a screen pass from quarterback Geno Smith on Wednesday during a drill (more video here).

You better believe it caught the attention of Huard and Bumpus.

Michael Bumpus’ take

On Thursday’s edition of Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy, Bumpus didn’t even try to hold in his excitement after watching the drill.

“Stacy, we saw a period dedicated to the screen,” he exclaimed to his co-host, Stacy Rost. “It was not just, ‘OK, linemen over there, receivers, quarterbacks over there.’ No, they brought the outside line over to the receivers, they set up some bags, you threw the screen, worked on your timing, the linemen released. The receivers get under the linemen, they make some moves. It was a beautiful simulation of a screen, and I was happy to see that.”

Bumpus noted that because access is more limited to Seahawks practices during the season, he can’t be sure it was a brand new drill for head coach Pete Carroll’s team. But he could confirm that he personally had never seen it.

“We don’t know if this is a new drill or not, but I’ve never seen it with this group,” he said. “So I was just happy to see it because, again, there are some things that you want to see this offense do, and one of those things is unlock the screen game. You have Jaxon Smith-Njigba, you have possibly a Dee Eskridge out there, you got Zach Charbonnet and these running backs. You have the personnel to be really good at it, so it’s nice to see them working on it. I was excited.”

What Brock Huard said

When Brock and Salk kicked off Thursday’s slate of coverage on Seattle Sports, they played a quote from Carroll talking about the screen drill.

“It was really good to see that. Dee Eskridge got out on one, I think Jaxon might have got out on one, also,” Carroll said during his Wednesday press conference. “It’s part of our offense. We’ve had this stuff forever, but to see it first day hit and click like that, that was really good.”

After hearing that, Huard gets the sense that screens will indeed be a point of emphasis this season for the Seahawks’ offense.

“Getting that screen game going, getting those receivers involved – has it been in their system forever, as Pete said? Of course it has,” Huard said. “But have they executed it very well? No. In fact, was it a death knell in a playoff loss in the COVID season? … Because when they tried to throw that screen pass against the Rams (in a January 2021 playoff game) and it was picked off, that was the death knell.”

More from Seattle Seahawks training camp

Rost: Three questions as Seattle Seahawks kick off training camp
Woolen, Adams and Brooks among six Hawks placed on PUP list
Salk: The Seahawks’ six biggest storylines in training camp

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An early Seahawks camp highlight worth getting excited about