Tick … tick … tick.
What’s that sound? No, it’s not the clock the crocodile in Peter Pan swallowed, alerting Captain Hook to his whereabouts. (Pardon the Disney reference, but I’m just back from an almost-border-to-almost-border, 3,200-mile, 24-day magical mystery tour that included a stop at you-know-where with my granddaughter).
It’s the sound of football, as the Seahawks are preparing for the start of training camp practices on Saturday. Some players – including cornerback Richard Sherman and linebacker K.J. Wright – were in today to begin their physical and mental preparations for the treadmill that camp can be.
But, as with everything this offseason, new guidelines in the CBA that ended last year’s 136-day lockout will change the training camp format. The most obvious difference? Only one practice a day, with either a morning or afternoon walk-through depending on the practice time. That’s right; two-a-days have gone that-a-way.
Fans will be able to attend some practices, and registration already is underway from the 13 open-to-the-public sessions on July 28, 29, 30 and 31 and Aug. 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15.
What does the coming season – the third under coach Pete Carroll – hold for the Seahawks? Cautious optimism might be the best way to put it. With a defense that ranked ninth in the league last season, an offense that should only be better regardless of who wins the starting QB job and another infusion of speed and athletic ability for the special teams, well, it’s not too early to start thinking about the franchise’s first winning record since 2007.
With that said, here are a few thoughts on a few of the things that happened while we were away:
The passing of Grant Feasel – He played on the franchise’s first division championship team in 1988, but also during that forgettable run from 1989-93 when the best the Seahawks could do was one winning record (9-7 in ’90). But Feasel was a winner, on and off the field.
A 16-game starter at center in 1989 and 1990, and 15-game starter in ’91, Feasel led with his chin and therefore lead by example. It was Steve Kelley at the Seattle Times, as I recall, who hung the moniker “Fightin’ Feasel” on him, because whenever a tussle broke out during training camp Feasel almost always was involved.
Feasel passed on July 15. He was only 52.
Jeff Kemp, a former Seahawks QB and Feasel’s road roommate, remembered his friend by writing: “Grant was the quintessential sacrificial warrior. He wrapped himself up in the duty to clear the way for and protect his teammates. He took his job so seriously. Our families grew up together and Grant deeply loved his family. He had a great sense of humor but never during the heat of battle.”
Feasel somehow was able to do that without taking himself, or life, too seriously. He was always good for a just-the-right quip during locker room conversations and could converse on things beyond football.
Taken too early, this unforgettable member of the Seahawks family will be missed.
Whither Clemons? – Chris Clemons, who has led the Seahawks in sacks in each of his two seasons with the club, and the club have been working on a contract extension, who was acquired in a 2010 trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to play the “Leo” end spot in Carroll’s defense. He has been motivated by a chip-on-his-shoulder attitude while producing back-to-back 11-sack seasons, so don’t expect that to change – regardless of which contract he plays under this season.
Mike Williams’ release – One of the best stories of the just-getting-started Carroll Era was the chance the Seahawks’ coach gave his former wide receiver when both were at USC. Williams was signed in 2010 after being given a tryout at a minicamp – and being out of the league since 2007.
Williams responded by leading the team in receptions (65) and receiving yards (751), including back-to-back games with 10 and 11 receptions as the slant route seemed to tip the entire field in his direction.
Things didn’t go as well last season (18 receptions for 236 yards), and you could see the team was ready to move on without Williams as this offseason progressed as he was unable to participate in the minicamp and OTA practices while recovering from offseason surgery.
It was a great one-season ride, and a feel-good story at a time when the franchise needed it.