RENTON — Rookie safety Ugo Amadi stunned Seahawks coaches early in training camp by intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball and among impressed teammates was tight end Ed Dickson.
The play solidified Dickson’s confidence in having Amadi on the Seahawks roster and made him proud to be connected to the rookie through their respective careers at the University of Oregon.
“He is very coachable, smart and he’s willing to work hard,” Dickson said. “Coming from Oregon, I’m not just saying that because I went there, but he’s one of the guys that puts that out there with good energy. He has a good chance to play for this team.”
Knowing very well how overwhelming NFL rookie years can be, Dickson has chosen to take on a mentor role to help his fellow Duck throughout their first year as teammates. Just a week into his first professional season, Amadi already recognizes he’s going to appreciate the help because of the immense change of pace in the game since concluding his collegiate career just seven months prior.
“As Ducks, we all stick together,” Dickson said. “From the equipment staff to the head coaches and players, there are a lot of them that I have kept in contact with and am friends with. I played with a lot of Oregon guys and I played against a lot of Oregon guys. I just want to make him one with the team and take him under my wing and make sure that he’s good.”
It’s been 10 years since Dickson last donned a Ducks jersey — as a tight end in Chip Kelly’s Oregon coaching debut. Picked in the third round of the 2010 draft, Dickson played four seasons for the Baltimore Ravens before another four years for Carolina, until joining the Seahawks last season.
Amadi, who finished his time at Oregon in the Redbox Bowl on New Year’s Eve, played in all of the Ducks’ 51 games throughout his four-year career there. Last season, he was one of four Power-5 conference players to rack up two interception returns for touchdowns and was the only player in the Pac-12 with three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Already impressed with what he saw from watching Oregon games, Dickson took it upon himself to reach out to Amadi when the Seahawks selected him in the fourth round of this year’s draft.
“I reached out to him to give him my ‘old-guy’ advice,” Dickson said. “The first thing I said was, ‘Embrace it.’ Humble yourself and be willing to learn as much as you can. From the day you come in until the day you get out of the league, you always need to be willing to learn.
“He is a very smart kid and a very hardworking kid, so there wasn’t much more I could say other than just showing him the ropes.”
With the hectic schedules of training camp, the two haven’t had a chance to sit down and swap stories about their time in Eugene. But once the season comes into routine and reality finally settles in for Amadi, he knows he’s going to utilize his connection with Dickson for advice.
“That whole alumni thing hasn’t kicked in to me yet, and it probably won’t until the season starts,” Amadi said. “That’s probably when me and Ed are gonna sit down and it’s all going to hit me.”
At Oregon, Amadi played various defensive positions and provided specific strength at nickel back. The Seahawks have worked Amadi in the free safety role during training camp, yet his wide versatility in the secondary should help him secure a roster spot. Knowing he has to do what’s best for the team, he’s open and willing to play wherever the coaches see fit.
“I’m just here to help this team win and get back on a winning run,” Amadi said. “I feel very comfortable. Now it’s just all about knowing the gap fits on runs because that’s very key in this defense as well, and making sure that I know the little adjustments. I’m going to be in there with the vets so I have to talk like a linebacker and as a DB at the same time, so just knowing both.”
Without much time to digest the experience, the first week of his NFL career has already challenged how Amadi sees the game.
“It’s a different game,” he said. “This game requires you to be a lot more into it and to use intuition, like if you see something you have to react. The great players here are reacting without waiting and the whole team reacts with them.”
Big plays, like his training camp pick-six, and dedicating time to knowing the playbook, have given Amadi a better sense of what to expect for the upcoming season.
“(Big plays) slow the game down for me and allow me to play without thinking and that’s huge for me, especially as a rookie,” Amadi said. “Playing the game without even thinking, just wanting to play football, it’s just a thing you need, especially on defense. I feel like I’m really advanced at where I’m at right now. I’m always in the playbook, I’m always talking to Bobby (Wagner) about certain defenses, I’m always talking to the personal assistants that we have, making sure they keep me in the loop as well. So I’m just trying to stay ahead and be available at all times.”