Secondary shines during Seahawks’ minicamp

Jun 13, 2024, 8:08 AM

Seattle Seahawks Riq Woolen OTAs 2024...

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Riq Woolen works out during an OTA practice on June 3. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon certainly isn’t shy to speak his mind.

After standout spring, JSN primed to be ‘massive piece’ of Seahawks’ offense

After a sensational rookie season last year, the former No. 5 overall pick has been a constant source of energy during OTAs and minicamp this spring, playfully chirping with the opposing offense during 11-on-11 drills and continually backing it up with his on-field play.

As he was walking off the practice field following Wednesday’s minicamp practice, Witherspoon snuck in one more jab. The Pro Bowl corner leaned into coach Mike Macdonald’s press conference and said, “Just tell them that we got the offense’s (expletive) today!”

He was right.

The Seahawks’ defense unofficially came up with five interceptions in 11-on-11 sessions Wednesday, picking off projected starting quarterback Geno Smith twice and backup Sam Howell three times.

The turnover frenzy began on the very first snap of 11-on-11 work, when linebacker Patrick O’Connell tipped a pass from Smith into the air and safety Rayshawn Jenkins snagged it for a diving interception. Cornerback Riq Woolen followed with a interception on a deep pass down the sideline, which appeared to stem from a miscommunication between Smith and receiver DK Metcalf.

Cornerback Artie Burns also joined the turnover party, making a diving interception of Howell on a pass over the middle. Later on, the defense intercepted Howell on back-to-back plays, with cornerback Mike Jackson jumping a screen pass for a pick-six and rookie linebacker Tyrice Knight intercepting a pass over the middle.

Witherspoon also nearly came up with an interception when he made a diving snag off a deflected pass in the back of the end zone, but his feet were ruled out of bounds.

“I think you’ve seen their confidence grow every day,” new Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald said of the secondary. “And that just comes with understanding what we’re asking them to do and understanding the scheme and how it fits and how it all plays together. Got a good part of the defense in now for quite a while, so just getting those extra reps every day, you can feel that they have a lot of confidence in what they’re doing, so it’s cool to see. They’re having some fun out there.”

However, Macdonald said the caveat at this stage of the offseason is that defenses don’t have to seriously account for the run.

“It’s a passing camp,” Macdonald said. “So when you’re playing pass all the time, there’s no threat of the ball just splitting the defense right down the middle. … When you get into games and there’s a threat of a run coming right downhill, it just changes things. (But) it’s great to see the confidence and the play speed and the communication.”

Early dismissal

The Seahawks were scheduled to conclude their three-day mandatory minicamp on Thursday, but Macdonald told his team after Wednesday’s practice that they were canceling the final practice of their spring program.

Macdonald said it was a reward for the progress they had made since beginning their offseason program on April 8. Due to Seattle having a new head coach, the team was allowed to begin its spring program earlier than teams with returning head coaches.

“Really just couldn’t be happier with the effort,” Macdonald said. “That’s what I was just telling them. The effort, the intent, the energy, the attitude – all the things we’re asking them to do, they responded every day. Just really excited about where we’re at. We had the extra week, being the new staff and everything, so felt like it was an opportunity to get out of here healthy and have a great offseason. … I feel really good on the foundation that we’ve been able to build.”

Injury updates

• Second-year wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who has been one of the stars of OTAs and minicamp, left Wednesday’s practice early with a shoulder issue. “He nicked his shoulder a little bit, so we just played it safe,” Macdonald said.

• Second-year right guard Anthony Bradford returned to practice Wednesday after being sidelined with a tweaked ankle that occurred early in OTAs.

• Veteran right tackle George Fant didn’t practice Wednesday. “He’s just on a load thing right now,” Macdonald said.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

• Are LB injuries a concern for Seahawks? A look at where things stand
• Jake Bobo: New Seahawks OC Grubb is moving all the WRs around
• DK Metcalf excited for Seahawks’ future under Mike Macdonald
• An update on Seahawks injury news as minicamp begins
• Seattle Seahawks to have rare joint practices with another NFL team

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