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Seattle Seahawks

In pads for first time at camp, Seahawks get their hits in

Seattle Seahawks Tyler Lockett, left, and Bobby Wagner talk during training camp on Monday.  (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times)
Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON, Wash. — Seahawks training camp entered a new phase Monday as the team put on shoulder pads and did some hitting for the first time this year.

“It was fun for us to get to hit each other and for the defense to finally stop complaining about ‘that’s a sack, or that’s not a sack,’’’ receiver DK Metcalf said. “It’s just fun to finally run into somebody and not get in trouble for it.’’

The practice featured some significant 11-on-11 red-zone and running-game work, with the defense seeming to get the better of it overall.

That’s with the caveat that the team’s projected top two running backs — Kenneth Walker III (groin) and Zach Charbonnet (shoulder) — remain sidelined. There were no updates given on either. Walker attended but Charbonnet was not seen, with coach Pete Carroll saying on Sunday he was due to have his shoulder examined.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said the run period — in which newly signed end Dre’Mont Jones appeared to be the highlight player with several hard-hitting stops — was important for the defense as it attempts to rebound from the struggles of last season, when Seattle was 26th in the NFL at 4.6 yards allowed per rush.

“We felt good,’’ Wagner said. “The energy was there. Obviously, that’s a big part of the defense we want to improve on so that’s a good first step, first day (in pads) setting a tone like that. And now we’ve just got to build on it.’’

That tone was set from the start as edge Uchenna Nwosu leveled rookie running back Kenny McIntosh on a run, eliciting not only hearty cheers from those on the field but also compelling injured safety Jamal Adams to race on the field and offer a high-five. Wagner also got in on the run-defense fun, breaking through the line to stop Bryant Koback for a loss.

Here’s more of what we heard and saw at camp Monday.

A fresher Wagner learning some new verbiage

Wagner has worked consistently with the starting unit as the middle linebacker while also relaying play calls.

Wagner drew a lot of cheers from the crowd and teammates Sunday when he ran step-for-step with running back DeeJay Dallas on a slant-and-go route about 30 yards downfield to stay in position to bat the ball away at the goal line.

“He’s moving really, really well,’’ Carroll said of Wagner, who turned 33 in June.

Wagner noted Monday that he ended the 2020 and 2021 seasons nursing some injuries but didn’t have any a year ago with the Rams.

“I feel healthy,’’ he said. “I think the last couple seasons I finished the season with injuries, so I spent the majority of (the offseason) trying to rehab. But last year we didn’t play that long so I got a chance to kind of regroup, reset my diet, reset my things I normally do in the offseason and just trying to be the best version of myself so I can help this team win.’’

What is also different this camp is Wagner having to learn a few new things about the Seattle defense. While he was a mainstay with the Seahawks from 2012-21, Seattle changed defensive coordinators a year ago, with Clint Hurtt installing a defense that combines much of what the Seahawks had done in the past but that also includes new touches, with Seattle officially having gone to a 3-4 alignment last year.

“It’s more the terminology,’’ Wagner said of what’s different. “I was fortunate enough, was here a long time, same system. Rams kind of ran a similar system to this, so I feel like we are kind of combining what we used to do with the new stuff.’’

Learning continuing for Witherspoon

Devon Witherspoon, the team’s first pick in the 2023 draft at No. 5 overall, continues to work mostly with the second-team defense as a nickel corner. He also continued to get some work with the first-team defense in dime (six defensive backs) packages and a few snaps at cornerback in what was his third practice since ending a holdout.

As might be expected, Witherspoon had a couple welcome-to-the-NFL moments Monday. Matched up with Tyler Lockett in a one-on-one-drill, Lockett took a short pass inside and was able to sidestep and juke past Witherspoon and down the sideline for a big gain, Witherspoon maybe learning a lesson about controlling his aggression. He also gave up a reception on a crossing route to Metcalf, though it was also a really tough play to make as Metcalf — who has four inches on Witherspoon — leapt high to grab the ball.

But Witherspoon also had two stops for close to no gain on runs, coming up quickly to make tackles out of the slot, showing the instincts and physicality the team valued in him coming out of the draft, and also levying a stand-your-ground hit on tight end Colby Parkinson after a completion.

“I love that,’’ Metcalf said of the hit on Parkinson. “A guy that’s going to go out there and compete and is not going to back down from a challenge. I know Colby tried to run into him, but he bowed up and tackled him. It’s fun to watch how competitive he is, and I think once we get Jamal back out there, both of their energy and fire is going to spark the defense.”

More notes, quotes and anecdotes

-Tight end Will Dissly did not practice and watched from the sidelines. There was no word on why with Carroll not talking to the media afterward.

-Veteran free-agent signee Evan Brown worked with the first-team offense at center, continuing the rotation there with rookie Olu Oluwatimi. Damien Lewis was back after missing Sunday’s practice due to illness and worked with the first team at his usual left guard.

-The Seahawks made a few roster moves, waiving rookie linebacker Cam Bright of Washington and safety Morrell Osling of UCLA and filling their spots with running back SaRodorick Thompson, a rookie undrafted free agent from Texas Tech, and offensive tackle Liam Ryan. Ryan, a Washington State product, spent time on Seattle’s practice squad last season. Thompson, listed at 6 feet and 215 pounds, was assigned jersey No. 29. He was with the Saints for a while in the spring before being waived in June.

-Ben Burr-Kirven, re-signed last week after missing the last two seasons due to a knee injury, got some time with the No. 1 defense at middle linebacker when the Seahawks gave Wagner a few snaps off.

-The Seahawks were reported to have five players in for tryouts, including former California quarterback Chase Garbers, the brother of one-time UW quarterback Ethan Garbers. Seattle has three QBs on its roster in Geno Smith, Drew Lock and rookie undrafted free agent Holton Ahlers. Chase Garbers spent last season with the Raiders but was released last week. Seattle also had three tight ends in for visits — Sal Cannella, Caleb Warren and Chris Pierce — as well as defensive tackle Robert Cooper. Cooper was signed by Seattle after the draft as an undrafted free agent, but then waived in late May.