RENTON, WA – In keeping with his participant profile on the crew’s web site, DeeJay Dallas has formally began his second NFL season. Statistics bear that out, as he appeared in 12 video games for the Seahawks throughout the 2020 season.
However though Dallas skilled his first style of NFL soccer and even began a pair of video games for Seattle instead of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, as he started coaching this offseason, he nonetheless felt like he had simply been drafted out of Miami. Contemplating circumstances, it is not obscure why.
“In some methods [this spring], I felt like I used to be going into yr two. In different methods, I used to be nonetheless feeling like I used to be a rookie,” Dallas stated previous to Thursday’s second coaching camp follow.
Like each different first-year participant breaking into the NFL final yr, Dallas did not get the chance to take part in rookie minicamp, OTAs, or some other conventional staple of an NFL offseason program because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Groups weren’t in a position to get along with nearly all of states enacting stay-in procedures to fight the virus, as a substitute resorting to digital Zoom conferences.
As soon as coaching camps formally opened in mid-August, rookies misplaced out on one other likelihood to impress when the league axed preseason video games to get rid of pointless journey. Although Dallas impressed on the follow area and drew acclaim from coaches and teammates alike, dropping these exhibition showcases did not assist his trigger battling for taking part in time behind Carson and Hyde.
Whereas it would by no means be identified whether or not issues would have performed out in another way with the good thing about a traditional camp and preseason, Dallas wound up being a wholesome scratch in every of the Seahawks first two video games and did not make his NFL debut till Week 3 in opposition to the Cowboys. He lastly obtained his first offensive snaps the next week, logging a pair of carries and catching two passes in a win over the Dolphins. By the primary 5 weeks, he had performed simply 11 offensive snaps.
Then two weeks later, alternative lastly knocked as Dallas was thrown into his first high-leverage state of affairs as a professional. With the Seahawks nursing a slim lead over the Cardinals in Arizona, Carson exited late within the first half with a mid-foot sprain and didn’t return. Fellow again Travis Homer additionally exited with a knee damage, opening the door for the rookie to get in depth taking part in time in a tightly-contested NFC West matchup.
Sadly, Dallas wasn’t in a position to capitalize on this primary shot. After Arizona stormed again from a 10-point deficit late within the fourth quarter to power time beyond regulation, the again made a patented rookie mistake in cross safety, failing to establish blitzing linebacker Tanner Vallejo capturing via the A-gap on 2nd and 10. Untouched up the center, Vallejo blasted quarterback Russell Wilson, who managed to get the throw off for an incompletion.
Instantly after the play, Seahawks working again coach Chad Morton subbed Hyde again into the sport after the blown cross safety task. For Dallas, it was a impolite reminder he wasn’t taking part in within the ACC anymore.
“You possibly can by no means have that occur,” Dallas stated when requested concerning the missed blitz pickup throughout the week after the loss. “I went again and seemed on the movie. I simply should have higher eye self-discipline in that state of affairs.”
Throughout his three years with the Hurricanes, very like Homer, the 5-foot-10, 217-pound Dallas excelled in cross safety. He by no means feared taking up a blitzing linebacker or stepping up in direction of the road to satisfy a defensive finish who outweighed him by 50-plus kilos. He additionally was assignment-sound, hardly ever failing to establish the right blitz pickup.
After being so efficient on the faculty stage, what was behind these early struggles? Trying again, Dallas felt he had misplaced his edge a bit. He wasn’t as ready as he wanted to be and from a physicality standpoint, the “wish to” side of cross blocking wasn’t on par along with his requirements.
“I feel final yr, I kinda misplaced my canine mentality, my traditional toughness that I had at Miami,” Dallas mirrored. “Then I feel I began to search out that once more within the Buffalo sport, had a pair good cross professional [reps].”
Fortunately for Dallas, with Carson, Hyde, and Homer all nursing accidents, the Seahawks can be giving him an opportunity to redeem himself in fast order. He began every of the subsequent two video games, and although he wasn’t good in cross safety and missed on a few blocks, he made noticeable enhancements in that regard, notably from an task standpoint.
Moreover, Dallas confirmed off his versatility as a playmaker out of the backfield. He scored his first two NFL dashing touchdowns and in addition snagged his first receiving landing from Wilson, an indication of progress for the Brunswick, Georgia native.
From there, Dallas solely noticed the sphere sparingly with Carson and Hyde ultimately returning to motion. An ankle damage suffered on kick protection in a Week 15 win at Washington finally ended his season, as he did not play one other snap in 2020 and concluded his first marketing campaign with 34 carries for 108 yards, 17 receptions for 111 yards, and three complete touchdowns.
Turning the web page to the offseason, Dallas had loads to juggle this spring away from the sphere. As if making an attempt to coach for an upcoming soccer season wasn’t troublesome sufficient amid an ongoing pandemic, with the virus nonetheless wreaking havoc, he was additionally wrapping up preparations for a marriage to his long-time companion Yasmin. The 2 have been lastly in a position to tie the knot earlier this month.
“It was difficult to plan due to the logistics. We had over 200 individuals invited,” Dallas indicated, including that they’d all of their visitors take 12-hour fast COVID-19 exams previous to the ceremony and reception.
Not like final yr, Dallas additionally had offseason actions on the docket. With many gamers and coaches getting vaccinated, groups have been in a position to convene for OTAs and minicamps, offering growth alternatives that weren’t out there to him as a rookie. He was one of many first veteran gamers to report early in OTAs and took benefit of intensive reps. Earlier this month, he additionally trekked to southern California to attend Wilson’s annual pre-training camp exercises with teammates for the primary time.
After being indoctrinated to the NFL final season, as many gamers do of their first full offseason within the league, Dallas formed his offseason program round altering his physique. He labored diligently to get leaner, notably within the higher half of his body. He additionally continued to emphasise enhancements as a receiver and cross protector, which stands out as the two greatest keys to him seeing the sphere extra typically in 2021.
Thus far, the additional work has paid off on the sphere. Even with simply two practices within the books so far, Dallas has been one of many shining stars. In Wednesday’s opening session, he took a handoff throughout the 11-on-11 interval, juked a linebacker at second stage, after which accelerated previous the secondary for a 70-yard landing run. As anticipated, even with the whistle blowing nicely beforehand, he made certain to dash all the best way to the tip zone.
Although Dallas appears to be like noticeably quicker and extra explosive, Dallas downplayed the notion he added pace within the offseason. As an alternative, he is working the ball with better decisiveness, hitting the crease more durable than he did throughout his rookie season.
“You possibly can’t actually get quicker when you get to this stage. Not the way it works,” Dallas smiled. “You possibly can possibly lower 0.1 or 0.2 seconds [to your 40-time], however that is it. I feel I used to be simply too hesitant after I obtained my shot to play final yr.”
In addition to Dallas has performed throughout the early levels of camp, he faces stiff competitors for snaps in a crowded working again room. Carson re-signed throughout free company and has seemed nice to this point, whereas a lighter, fully-healthy Rashaad Penny additionally broke a pair of huge runs on Thursday. Alex Collins has additionally been spectacular in his personal proper, exhibiting clear enhancements within the receiving sport to go along with his working skills. All three of these backs, plus Homer when he comes off the PUP record, might be jockeying for taking part in time.
However already off to a fast begin in his second “rookie” yr, Dallas’ talent set ought to be a superb slot in new coordinator Shane Waldron’s offense. Carson has already hinted that Seattle will use backs within the passing sport extra steadily, together with splitting them out extensive. With Dallas having a previous receiver background at Miami, that ought to give him a big benefit battling for the third down position.
Approaching padded practices within the close to future, Dallas embraces the competitors and although he isn’t afraid to confess what he perceives as his limitations, he isn’t missing in confidence both. The sting is again. For what he might lack within the athleticism division in comparison with different backs on the roster, he believes he can greater than compensate along with his intangibles.
“I am not the quickest man. I’ve by no means been the quickest man,” Dallas paused for a second. “However I imagine I’ve probably the most coronary heart.”