So close, and yet so far. That was how DK Metcalf's quarterback and coach described the first-year wide receiver's debut Thursday night.
The Seattle Seahawks rookie was targeted four times in the box score -- five times if you count a reception called back for an offensive penalty -- and caught one ball for eight yards.
Though his "two" catches came on short routes, Metcalf's debut was characterized by two near misses on Geno Smith deep balls. Both passes slipped just past his fingertips with a defensive back on his hip, one to the right and one to the left. If Smith and Metcalf had connected, the receiver's showing would have been celebrated. Alas, the passes fell incomplete, and the world turned on.
But Russell Wilson and coach Pete Carroll certainly took notice of Metcalf's proximity to explosive plays.
"He can make a lot of plays," Wilson said Monday. "You saw in the game, he's a fingernail off of two massive, big plays. I think he's going to be really special for us.
"I think, the key for him is, a key for any great, highly touted player and anybody really is to remain humble and keep working. That's just the key. He's got great humility. He's got great poise. He's confident. He's competitive, as you can imagine. He's got all the athletic ability in the world and so it's our job to give him a chance and let him make plays."
Metcalf was selected by Seattle in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, in part to take over for the retired Doug Baldwin, who, along with Tyler Lockett, was oft on the receiving end of Wilson's many pretty parabolas. In 2018, Wilson ranked third in the league in average completed air yards (7.3) and fifth in intended air yards (9.3), per Next Gen Stats.
Metcalf's two deep incompletions traveled roughly 45 and 35 yards through the air from Smith. The passes fell just past the receiver. When Wilson is throwing those balls, perhaps they'll be right on Metcalf's hands.
"Just a hair from spectacular," Carroll said of Metcalf's performance after Thursday's game. "He's made a couple of those catches before. He clicked heels with the guy and almost got the first one, and the second one was just off his fingertips. You could see that he got behind him, just like we're hoping. He's a big threat."
For the rookie wideout, Thursday's misfires mean there's room for improvement.
"I mean, you know, just got to connect," Metcalf said. "We're going to go back and watch the film and correct our mistakes in our practice."
His next opportunity to connect, possibly with Wilson, comes Sunday when Seattle takes on Minnesota.