Why Seahawks are joining NFL trend with joint practices

Seattle will conduct practices with the Tennessee Titans prior to their preseason game.

  • Gregg Bell, The News Tribune
  • Wednesday, June 12, 2024 2:28pm
  • SportsSeahawks

RENTON — New coach. Way new way of training (camp).

As he did for years as an assistant for the Baltimore Ravens, Seahawks coach Mike Macdonald will have his new team in joint practices this preseason, with the Tennessee Titans over two August days in Nashville.

The Seahawks announced Tuesday, during the first day of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp, that they will fly to Tennessee the evening of Aug. 13 following a training-camp practice as usual that day at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. They will practice with and scrimmage against the Titans Aug. 14 and 15.

Then Saturday, Aug. 17 the Seahawks and Titans will play a preseason game in Nashville.

This will be the first time since the early days of Seattle’s franchise that began NFL play in 1976 the Seahawks have had joint practices in a training camp.

It’s been a trend around the league, but one Pete Carroll, Macdonald’s predecessor as coach, did not want to join in his 14 years leading the Seahawks until January.

“There is a lot to like about it,” Maconald said. “You’re with a team that you respect their operation. We know a lot of the coaches over there, how they operate.”

Macdonald’s Ravens were familiar opponents of the Titans in the AFC. Plus, Titans defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson was Macdonald’s defensive backs coach on Baltimore’s defense last season.

“Really it’s an opportunity to put it in a setting where you can control the tempos, control the drills, get some high intensity for the guys so they’re ready to roll come the opener time,” Macdonald said. “And it’s just easier to control them than true game reps.”

In Nashville, Titans coach Brian Callahan said he began calling around the league before and following the draft in late April to find another team to conduct joint practices with in August. Callahan also mentioned the Titans staff’s familiarity with Macdonald from his Baltimore days, and the fact the NFL scheduled the Seahawks and Titans for the second preseason game.

“It’s great,” Callahan told reporters in Tennessee. “(We were) trying to find guys we were familiar with, and sometimes the league accommodates those requests and sometimes it doesn’t. But for the most part when you request to work with a team they try to make that work. …So we requested to work with Seattle, knowing that they would likely be one of our preseason opponents.

“Then I talked to Mike a little bit in the spring, and they were all on board.

“Excited about it. We’ll get great work. I love joint practices. … I’d do two weeks, three weeks of it if I could. It really changes up training camp and gets your guys against other people and other schemes.”

Macdonald is installing all-new schemes with the Seahawks for the coming season, on offense, defense and special teams.

“Still working through who is going to play in the preseason and for how much,” Macdonald said, “but (joint practices are) a great opportunity if you do it the right way to get some really good competition in and sharpen each other and try to get ready for the regular season.”

Macdonald was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator for the 2022 and ‘23 seasons. Baltimore had two joint practices with Washington last August.

He was a Ravens intern coach for John Harbaugh in 2014 and his assistant for the Ravens defenses from 2015-20.

“They did it just about every season that I was there,” Macdonald said. “Again, you’ve had some great experiences with (it), when it’s handled the right way — and some not as great, to put it politely. So it’s really about controlling the environment, guys understanding what the spirit of the whole thing is about.

“We’ll be able to get that done. We’ll be with the right team.”

New Seahawks left guard Laken Tomlinson has done many joint practices in training camps. He’s played for the Detroit Lions, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers in his nine NFL seasons.

“Yeah, I’m no stranger to that,” he said. “It is another tool to sharpen the iron, man, so it’s great.”

The Seahawks will play their first preseason game of 2024 on Aug. 10 at the Los Angeles Chargers. New Seattle special-teams coach Jay Harbaugh is the son of new Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh hired Macdonald in 2021 to be the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan for one season.

The Seahawks will return from the Chargers preseason game, take that Sunday off, then practice in training camp in Renton on Monday, Aug. 12 and Tuesday, Aug. 13 before they travel to Tennessee. The Seahawks will be in Nashville Aug. 14 for the two practices through the preseason game there on the 17th. They will fly home and return to training camp in Renton on Monday, Aug. 19.

“It’s hard to go against yourself all the time, especially all the way through OTAs,” Macdonald said. “Good to see another offense, and for our offense, would be good to see what they’re running on defense. Good to see different styles, for us to get away a little bit as a team and have some team building, as well.”

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