RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf got another talking-to from coach Pete Carroll after his latest on-field incident, and if his comments Thursday were any indication, he got the message.
"I think I've had an outburst three times this year, so we've talked three times," Metcalf said. "The conversation has always gotten better. I'm a passionate player. I'm never going to back down from anything. He understands that, but at the same time, I'm starting to become a leader on this team and I've got to grow up and continue to get better. I know I'm still a work in progress. I don't like to use my age as an excuse, but I sometimes forget that I'm just 23 years old. So continue just to grow each day, and mistakes are going to get fixed."
It's not clear which three outbursts Metcalf was referring to, but the post-play scuffle that led to his ejection late in the Seahawks' 17-0 loss at Green Bay on Sunday was clearly one of them. He was ejected with less than a minute and a half left after grabbing safety Henry Black's facemask and shoving cornerback Rasul Douglas.
The loss dropped the Seahawks to 3-6.
Asked postgame what led to that moment, Metcalf said simply that he's "tired of losing." He had more to say Thursday about the incident and what has become a pattern of costly decisions in the heat of the moment.
"I'm not going to back down from anything," Metcalf said. "I felt I was being challenged. Growing up is ... realizing that challenge, and making the best decision for the team and not myself. Yes, it was brewing throughout the whole game. Some other factors led into that."
Carroll spoke with Metcalf on the flight back to Seattle and again Monday.
"The last thing he wants is for this to continue," Carroll said. "He's been really good for five or six weeks now. He's just been playing ball and digging in. He wants to make sure that's what his work stands for, so I'm anxious to see him come back out this week and get going."
Metcalf said in September that opponents were trying to bait him into losing his cool, even more often than they did in 2020. He admitted that he had fallen into that trap the week before, when he was flagged twice for holding (one was declined) and once for pass interference against Tennessee.
He was previously flagged for taunting after a Seahawks score in their opener at Indianapolis. He was later flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for jumping onto the goal-post padding to celebrate his touchdown catch against Jacksonville, unaware that wasn't allowed.
Metcalf had several scuffles with defenders this season before the Green Bay game, including a few with Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore that led to a pair of flags for unnecessary roughness on Lattimore. Metcalf kept his head enough to not get penalized in that game, but both players were fined.
"I was doing the same thing last year -- Stephon Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey," Metcalf said, referring to two of the more physical matchups he had in 2020. "I've been doing it, I'm just under a tighter microscope right now. So everybody is watching me to see what I do and how I react, so taking that into account every time I go into a game or prepare for a week that I'm being looked at. So it's just another challenge that I've got to overcome."
Metcalf also traded barbs with Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe on Twitter after Sharpe criticized his decision to not get out of bounds before fumbling near the end of regulation against Pittsburgh.
Bobby Wagner, Seattle's 10th-year linebacker and defensive captain, believes the added attention on Metcalf is similar to what happened with Richard Sherman early in his career. Wagner mentioned Metcalf's instantly viral chase-down last season of Budda Baker in a prime-time game against the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle's opponent on Sunday.
"There's a lot of growth when you first come in the league," Wagner said.
He added: "I remember having moments where I was kind of angry and frustrated and things of that nature on the sidelines, but I wasn't at the level as he is with everything he [has] going on with the chase-down, with the stuff that he does off the field, with his hair. There's a lot of eyes on him."
The CBS replay showed a heated Metcalf appearing to brush off Wagner when he walked to the sideline after his ejection.
"I talked to Bobby after the game and he was like, 'You're not the first person to do this on multiple occasions.,'" Metcalf said. "So like I said, I've got to just grow up and assume my role as a leader on this team and just look at myself in that aspect."
After scoring 10 touchdowns and breaking Steve Largent's franchise record with 1,303 receiving yards last year en route to his first Pro Bowl nod, Metcalf is having another strong season with 42 catches for 606 yards and eight TDs through nine games. That's despite a sore foot that has bothered him for much of the season and has recently led to a regular day off from practice each week. The Seahawks listed him as a non-participant Wednesday and a full participant Thursday.
Metcalf said his foot hasn't bothered him on game day. "No, sir. I'm just getting the mental reps," he said. "I'm still doing walk-through. I'm just not practicing one day a week."
When asked how he'd assess his season so far, Metcalf turned the conversation away from the numbers and back to his role as a leader.
"Because I've been here three years now," he said. "I know what it feels like to win and I'm starting to see what it feels like to lose. So just helping the younger guys see that we've still got to believe and we've still got to fight because we still got eight games. We still can finish 11-6 and possibly win the division so just keep fighting, keep believing."