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The Seahawks’ offseason program began Monday, but not with the pop of shoulder pads or even a tweet from coach Pete Carroll’s whistle.
What the players did on their first day back after an extended break – complements of the new CBA which ended the 136-day lockout that erased the offseason last year – was complete a series of screening tests that will allow head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff to personalize the weight training that will be Tuesday.
“They say it helps them know what your body can and can’t do, and give them ways they can help improve you,” said Lemuel Jeanpierre, who started the final four games at right guard and another at center last season.
“Different people have different needs, like maybe with your flexibility. So you go in there and try to give them your best, because we know what’s coming up this offseason.”
Eventually. Phase 1 of the revamped offseason program will be limited to the players working for two weeks with Carlisle and his staff – Jamie Yanchar and Mondray Gee. In Phase 2, which begins April 30, Carroll and the rest of his staff will get involved in the workouts. It will be during Phase 3, starting May 21, that the 10 OTA sessions and the only mandatory minicamp will be conducted.
But first came the screening, which involved each player going through a series of seven movements to determine his flexibility, mobility and stability. The player is graded from three (the best) to zero (the worst) in each movement.
“It’s a screening tool, like you would do a blood pressure,” said head trainer Sam Ramsden, who was assisted in the testing by his assistants – Donald Rich and David Stricklin.
“Basically what we’re looking for is pain with movement, so we can pick something up and treat it. We’re looking for imbalance, whether they do better with left versus right, so we know that’s a predisposed factor to injury. So we’re using it as a proactive, preventative tool to assess our players prior to beginning their offseason conditioning program.”
That’s when Carlisle and crew take over, using the information – and scores – gathered during the screening to adapt programs for individual players.
“If we’ve got a player who has a hard time with our active straight-leg raise test, for example, which measures their core and hamstring flexibility, we’ve got to let coach Carlisle know about the effect that might have on their running,” Ramsden said. “If we’ve got a player who has really tight shoulders and doesn’t have a lot of motion, we’re going to have to make sure coach Carlisle knows about their upper-extremity lifting because that might be an issue for them.
“Meanwhile, there are corrective exercises in place for all these movements. So if there is an imbalance or a poor movement pattern or pain, there’s a plan for each one of those elements to make sure the players are improving.”
Jeanpierre is ready to embrace – and throw his 6-foot-3, 301-pound body into – anything that is thrown at him. Getting to not only play, but show you can indeed play at this level, after spending his first season in the league on the Seahawks’ practice squad has his competitive juices percolating.
“I’m really excited, because this is my first year actually going through it,” said Jeanpierre, who was signed by the Seahawks in September 2010 after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. “So this is my first chance to do something with the club from start to finish.”
Once healthy, the Seahawks will have a bevy of linemen competing for playing time. In addition to Jeanpierre, Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan also played well after the starting trio of left tackle Russell Okung (pectoral), right guard John Moffitt (knee) and right tackle James Carpenter (knee) were lost to season-ending injuries that required surgery. Giacomini and McQuistan have agreed to re-sign with the team, while Moffitt and Okung are progressing well in their rehabilitation. Carpenter is facing a longer rehab process because of the severity of his injury.
“It all goes back to my coaches and teammates, because they pushed me and they believed in me,” said Jeanpierre – who stepped in for McQuistan, who had stepped in for Moffitt but moved to left tackle after Okung went down.
Center Max Unger also is back, while veterans Deuce Lutui and Frank Omiyale were added in free agency. This also will be the linemen’s first offseason under Tom Cable, who was hired last year to coach the unit and also be the assistant head coach.
“It’s all about competition around here. That’s our motto, and we’ve got it on the line,” Jeanpierre said. “I’m excited to get back to drill work. Coach Cable can’t wait for us to get out and work, work, work. Because that’s what we do.”
Not, however, until the linemen and rest of the players complete the screening and weight-training phase of the NFL’s new offseason program.