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Day One was a long one
As Sean Locklear slumped upon a bench just outside the locker room, his XXXL-size body language said it all.
Day One of the Seahawks’ training camp had been a long one.
Friday began bright and too early for Locklear and his fellow veterans. Physicals began at 6 a.m., followed by testing and meetings – and then a two-hour, 10-minute practice that didn’t end until after 5:30 p.m.
“It was a long day – a long day,” Locklear said. “But we knew that coming into camp. It was good to get this first day out of the way. Now, tomorrow, we can worry about nothing but football.”
Coach Jim Mora admitted his troops were “a little bit sluggish,” but understandably so.
“We pushed through it,” he said. “That’s sometimes to be expected on the first day. It will get better from here.”
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck concurred with Mora that while Friday was a first step; the players need to step it up.
“Day One was OK,” Hasselbeck said. “It wasn’t good enough. Coach Mora let us know that it definitely wasn’t good enough. But we’re aware of it. It’s understandable why everything wasn’t as smooth it needed to be.
“We talked today about the standard that we’re going to set. We didn’t hit to today. We’ll have two chances tomorrow to improve.”
Saturday, the players will get their first round of two-a-day practices, including their first session in full pads.
The first day also included a couple nuggets of news.
Mike Wahle was released after failing his physical, a move the club had anticipated – and planned for – because the veteran left guard had been slow to recover from the shoulder surgery he had in December.
That’s why offensive lineman Max Unger was selected in the second round of the draft, and the club had two offensive linemen in this week for tryouts – Cory Withrow and Grey Ruegamer. Both were signed Friday.
Wahle indicated to Mora that he would retire after 11 NFL seasons during their conversation.
“Mike worked really hard to get back to the point where he could be an effective player, and it just didn’t happen,” Mora said. “He came in and spoke with me today and is ready to move on with his life.”
Rather than regret, Mora used the opportunity to celebrate Wahle’s career – which included one season with the Seahawks, three with the Carolina Panthers and seven with the Green Bay Packers.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult,” Mora said of those exit meetings with veteran players. “Today’s was not difficult. Really, today I congratulated Mike on a fine career. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think he leaves without reservation and he’s excited about starting a new chapter in his life.”
It was a more somber situation for Hasselbeck, who broke into the league in 1998 as a rookie with Wahle when both were with the Packers and remains close friends with him.
“In my mind, that’s a big loss. It’s a big void,” Hasselbeck said. “He was a great teammate. We had a lot of talks in our meetings today about the kind of teammate the coaches are looking for us to be. Mike kind of defines what we’re looking for.”
Cornerback Marcus Trufant was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of a sore back.
“We want to be cautious with backs,” Mora said. “So when Marcus is ready, he’ll be back out there. But it doesn’t appear to be anything serious.”
The loss of Wahle left line coach Mike Solari to continue shuffling his unit – which has an ongoing challenge since he joined the coaching staff last year.
Locklear got some work at his usual spot on the right side with the No. 1 line, but also filled in at left tackle because Walter Jones will be limited in practice after having microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Rob Sims, who spent the spring working at right guard, slid over to left guard to replace Wahle in the No. 1 unit – which also included Chris Spencer at center and Mansfield Wrotto at right guard.
Unger worked at right guard with the No. 2 line and also at center with the third unit – where Withrow and Ruegamer filled the guards spots.
Let’s just say it was difficult to follow the bouncing linemen.
“That’s how coach Solari teaches – he tells us we’ve got to be ready to move,” Locklear said. “Just like in a game. If somebody goes down, you’ve to be able to flip flop and move around. Pretty much like last year.”
Last year, each of the starting linemen finished the season on injured reserve as they missed a combined 34 games.
“We had guys playing everywhere, and everybody knew what they were doing,” Locklear said.
Those thoughts of last season made this extra-long Friday much easier to handle.
“All in all, it was a good day for us,” Mora said. “It’s exciting to get going.”