RENTON -- Rookie linebacker Cody Barton currently holds the crown for standout play of training camp through four days of work.
The third-round pick out of the University of Utah intercepted quarterback Geno Smith on Sunday as he tried to thread a pass into tight end Jacob Hollister. Barton made a diving snag of the pass, popped to his feet and immediately took off downfield to cheers of his defensive teammates.
"Just followed my reads," Barton said of the play on Monday. "Open the way I’m supposed to open, no threat (there), flip the other way, dude’s burning down the field, all of a sudden the ball is in the air and you just got to make a play. Just a lot of instincts I guess taking over.”
While fellow second-round pick DK Metcalf may be getting more attention, Barton has been every bit as impressive since joining the team following the NFL Draft in May.
At 6-foot-2, 237 pounds, Barton looks the part of an NFL linebacker. Despite being a bit of a late-bloomer and not earning a starting job at Utah until his senior season, Barton led the team with 116 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, an interception, and six pass breakups. His feel for the game seems pretty apparent watching him on the practice fields as well. Barton doesn't appear to have many wide-eyed moments and seems very poised for a rookie in his first training camp.
“Cody’s done everything right. He’s just been a joy," head coach Pete Carroll said. "Hard-working, clear, smart, fast, hustles like crazy, and he’s been making plays. He knocked a ball down two days ago that was just the same pick there that he made, and that play right there is as good of a play as we’ve seen in a long time out here in full-speed tempo, it was great. So, he’s making a claim, we’re expecting him to really grow at the position. We know he can be a special teams player for us, we’re expecting him to be really an active part in all areas. We can’t hold him down, he just looks like he’s really on point.
Barton got his first chance to run with the first-team defense on Monday as fellow linebacker Mychal Kendricks was sidelined for the day. Though Barton is mostly used to being an off-ball linebacker, Barton worked at the strong-side linebacker position in Kendricks' place with the first-team unit before retreating to his normal off-ball positions with the backup units.
He’s been amazing, he’s been a really good rookie," defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "I think that his ability to come in and soak up the information and be able to take it to the field and make plays is what a good rookie should do.”
Barton said he feels comfortable with the playbook when it comes to knowing his assignments and what is happening directly around him. The next step is to understand the roles of everyone around him collectively and begin to develop a sense for how opposing offenses will attack Seattle's defensive play-calls.
"To this point I feel very comfortable with the playbook, as far as my knowledge of the game," Barton said. "As far as the X’s and O’s go, and my assignment, and the guy’s next to me, as far as writing it down, I know it. Now I’m taking my game further and just applying offensive concepts and things they like to do. Like say we’re in a certain shade, and they’re in a certain formation, things they like do, just cross concepts. Just trying to elevate my game to the next level."
Barring injuries, it may be difficult for Barton to find his way onto the field defensively this season. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Kendricks are all established starters in the NFL and the trio has Carroll extremely excited about their potential as a unit. Nevertheless, Barton is showing early promise and has drawn considerable praise from those around the team. Practice is one thing, games are another. However, Barton may find a way to force himself onto the field sooner than later.
Photo Credit: Seahawks rookie linebacker Cody Barton talks with reporters following practice on July 29, 2019. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)
One of the early positives in training camp for the Seahawks was the simple fact that second-year tight end Will Dissly didn't have to begin camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Dissly had an impressive first month to his career last year with Seattle before a ruptured patella tendon ended his rookie season in early October. Dissly had a breakout performance in his debut in Denver, catching three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. In four games, he caught eight passes for 156 yards and two scores before his season was halted on a 5-yard catch in Arizona against the Cardinals.
Dissly was held out of all offseason work and appeared to be a candidate to open camp on the PUP list. Instead, Dissly was kept on the active roster as the reported for camp last week.
"We are going to take it easy on Will as we go, you know," Carroll said last week. "We didn’t know if he was going to be ready to start camp. Months ago, we were waiting to see, we were always hoping for this. He made it. We just got to ease him in. He’s in great shape and looks good and really is ahead of the schedule that maybe some people would have for him.”
After being eased into varying degrees of individual work over the first few days of camp, Dissly was back working in full team drills on Monday as the team put shoulder pads on for the first time.
"You know, right know we are taking it slow," Dissly said. "The main priority is the longevity on my knee and the season. We are going to take it slow. I feel really good. I honestly feel like I’m in better shape now than entering last season, so I’m excited about that. We’ll just keep grinding and keep going."
Dissly said that it was difficult having to sit out and watch from the sidelines. However, he parked himself next to the quarterbacks in the huddle so he could hear the play-calls and said it was a big benefit for his to be able to understand the full picture offensively.
"I kind of learned the why, why we are doing things and I think that’s going to elevate my game," Dissly said. "I know the checks, I know the quarterback reads, where they are going with the ball, why they are throwing it here, how we are attacking different coverages. That was huge for the mental aspect and I’m kind of excited to put that into play.”
Even though Dissly played in just four games as a rookie, he feels he earned more than enough experience to be fully prepared for this season.
"I was raised on the idea that if you play one game, you’re a veteran," he said. "Once you play that first game, there’s no more question marks, you just go out there and play. It’s still football. It was a tremendous opportunity. You learn how to lose, you learn how to win. I’m just excited to put that in this year.
Photo Credit: CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Adrian Amos #38 of the Chicago Bears tackles Will Dissly #88 of the Seattle Seahawks in the first half at Soldier Field on September 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)