But Tuesday was special, nonetheless, because the offense and defense finally faced one another as the team held the first of its 10 OTA practices on a chilly, raining afternoon along the shores of Lake Washington.
“The first one, it’s still a rush,” Hill said. “It was good to put on the helmets and get out and go against an offense.”
This first OTA session also was important – and imperative – for the coaches, who finally got a look at how well the players have absorbed the teaching aspects of the game that were featured in Phase 2 of the offseason program.
On defense, two of the team’s 10 draft choices stepped into the No. 1 unit – first-round draft choice
“We finished No. 9 (in the league) last year, and we definitely can climb a bunch of spots with what we’ve got coming back and what they’ve added,” Hill said. “We’ve only lost one starter. It was a big starter in Hawthorne, but I think we can be even better this season.”
And please don’t broach that they-wouldn’t-consider-starting-a-rookie-in-the-middle topic with Hill. Remember, Lofa Tatupu was the rookie starter at middle linebacker and Hill also started the second half of the season as well as in the postseason during the team’s Super Bowl run in 2005.
“He’s learning and picking it up quick,” Hill said of Wagner taking over in the middle. “He’s a little quiet right now, and as the Mike you’ve got to communicate. But he’s picking it up and I think he’s going to be excellent.
“And we had two rookies at linebacker in ’05, so it can happen.”
Each unit had its moments during the first OTA session that was held in weather which made it feel like late October or early November.
On offense, leading rusher
On defense, Pro Bowl free safety
Hill on the blitz? That also was a flashback to his rookie season, when he registered a career-high 7.5 sacks.
“I can still do it all,” he said with a smile. “I feel great.”
Another new wrinkle in the defense could be veteran
Trufant as the third corner. Irvin and free-agent addition
“It’s sort of scary,” Hill said. “And I’m ready for it.”
This was only the first OTA practice of the offseason, and a wet one at that. But it was a step in the right direction for a team looking to improve on the 7-9 records it has posted in two seasons under coach Pete Carroll.
“It always feels good to get back on the field for the first time,” Hill said.
Even when it’s far from your first time.